40 years ago, while I was in college, my fraternity normally held it’s weekend party on a Friday night so we could all gather in the lounge on Saturday to watch the ultra-popular new show “Saturday Night Live.” In the era before YouTube videos and cable/satellite TV, one could only see live comedy and music on programs like this.
Some skits were memorable, some easily forgettable, and some added phrases to our culture that when uttered 40 years later, most baby boomers know the context immediately. Included are “We are, two wild and crazy guys!”, “Living in a van down by the river!” and “Daaaaa Beeears”. One of the most quoted had actor Christopher Walken producing the song “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult (with Will Farrell and other cast members as the band) making the observation, “I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!” It was making fun of a hard rock and roll song dealing with the serious subject of death being played with, of all instruments, a cowbell. Even Theresa, not a huge SNL fan, knows the origin of ‘More Cowbell.’
But this is about the song which was released 40 years ago in 1976. Many at the time thought it was about suicide, but in an interview in 1995, Donald Roeser, lead guitarist and songwriter who went by the name Buck Dharma, explained that he was exploring the topic of reuniting with loved ones after death. “It is, like, not to be afraid of it (as opposed to actively bring it about). It’s basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners.” Buck had learned in his mid-20s that he had an erratic heartbeat, so the topic was a natural for him to pursue.
Buck doesn’t fear the reaper because his belief is that he will have eternal life in Heaven with others he knew here on earth. He has embraced his own mortality. As the old saying goes, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven but no one wants to die.”
Buck has mentioned many times that “Don’t Fear the Reaper” is to be played at his funeral. He has moved past the fear into realizing that we will all pass away someday, and what can he do to help his family celebrate his life.
Buck’s major accomplishment was writing and recording a hit song.
What are some of your major accomplishments?
What do you want celebrated at your funeral?
As we baby boomers grow older and realize that aging is not for sissies, we can either ignore what the future holds or plan for it. Take some advice from Buck and “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”