October 23, 1998

Last Words

Stories of people's last words before death. Their one last shot at figuring things out, summing things up. One last moment of asserting the fact of our existence, at the moment of our annihilation.


Host Ira Glass reads famous last words from Bing Crosby, Oscar Wilde, W.C. Fields, and talks about what we want from people's last words. (3 minutes)
Act One

Actions Speak Louder

Sarah Vowell tells the story of Page Smith and Eloise Pickard Smith. They were married for over five decades, and died a day apart. It's a story of people attempting to surround death in a web of words, of very eloquent people and their last words, and of what last words can and cannot accomplish. (13 minutes)
Act Two

The Unknown Soldier

Forty-five people read Luc Sante's story The Unknown Soldier, in which we hear about people's final moments, final thoughts. (7 minutes)


“Who By Fire” by Leonard Cohen, performed by House of Love
Act Three

How The Living Use The Dead

Writer Greil Marcus explains what rock fans use dead rock stars for. (4 minutes)


“L'Anarchie Pour le U.K” by The Sex Pistols, performed on the accordion
Act Four


An act about which the less said, the better. (12 seconds)