My top 5 podcasts of 2019 (so far!) Part II

My second pick of the podcasts that have meant the most to me in 2019 (so far!), featuring: Joe Rogan and Naval Ravikant; Samira Ahmed and Katherine Ryan; Adam Buxton and Marlon James; Rich Roll and Kevin Smith; and Cariad Lloyd and Sali Hughes.

Podcasting is a limitless space to explore the limitless potential of words and thoughts.

In his June 2019 podcast chat with Russell Brand, Rich Roll imagines the impact that podcasting might have had on him had it been around when he was 16:

“Can you imagine for free, in your hand, you would have access to all these kinds of conversations and how that would have shaped your thinking and the decisions you made as a young person? For a lot of people, it’s an incredible resource. I don’t think we fully understand just how dramatic an effect this shift in how we process information and receive it is having on people.”

Podcasting keeps going from strength to strength. There has been such an abundance of outstanding podcastulence (podulence, if you will) so far this year. This is my second regular round-up* of the very best podcasts I have heard in 2019, covering the period from the end of March 2019 to right now (the end of June 2019).

I sincerely hope you find something of interest to listen to here. And please do let me know your own favourite podcasts of 2019 (so far)!

Cariad Lloyd/Sali Hughes

“It’s like the weird gift of life. No matter how shit it is, you can somehow hopefully change the things that affected you and not pass them on. That’s all you can do, not pass on extra shit.” This is Cariad Lloyd, beautifully summing up some of the key themes that emerge from this moving episode of GriefCast, featuring Sali Hughes. Hughes describes how she had to deal with three deaths among her family and friends in quick succession – and how parental estrangement complicated things further. She speaks with total honesty and candour, acknowledging that there is no perfect route through tough times. But there is a route through. She demonstrates such clarity of thought, such common sense, and such inspiring values. I love the advice she gave her children during the events described here (I am paraphrasing): There is no wrong answer. Make a decision and be prepared for its consequences. This podcast moved me to tears throughout.

Rich Roll/Kevin Smith

Life, death, self-reliance… and “the V word”. A lovely, lengthy chat about life-changing moments. Rich Roll’s podcast with filmmaker Kevin Smith is something of a masterpiece of the podcasting art. Smith speaks with great warmth, humour and wonder of his near-fatal heart attack at the start of 2018, and the role that becoming vegan has had in his recovery, his second life. There is also much to get your teeth into here about creativity, independence, and the transformative power of podcasting. I love the feeling at points in this chat that each gent almost seems to view the other as a mentor. Rich Roll finally gets to thank Smith for opening his mind to podcasting. Smith is equally admiring of Roll’s inspiring example of a flourishing vegan life. A podcast to make you ponder your own path through this world, this life.

Adam Buxton/Marlon James

Gentle reader, I must confess that I knew roughly zero about Marlon James prior to this wonderful ramblechat with the excellent Mr Buxton. I absolutely loved him by the end of it. James is a Jamaican novelist. He has the most beautiful speaking voice, and a compelling, warm and fiercely individual outlook. The sort of person you would want to be on your side. Great taste in music, too.** He has much to say to Buxton about sticking to one’s own values come what may, about not being afraid to be different. I love his words on racism: “[Racism] isn’t something to progress out of. It’s an illegitimate position. So for me to encourage you to evolve out of your attitudes is me implying that you’re moving from some sort of legitimate state to the next. Racism is not legitimate. It’s an illegitimate state. It has always been illegitimate. You’re doing something wrong. Stop it.” All this plus some great nuggets on grammar and the advisability (or otherwise) of peppering one’s speech with “literally” and “like”. On the strength of this podcast, I bought A Brief History of Seven Killings and am greatly looking forward to reading it and immersing myself further into his world when I have some time off at the end of the summer.

Samira Ahmed/Katherine Ryan

“I’m grateful for my biggest mistakes. Every failure has a lesson, and you always come out of suffering better than you went in.” I love these words from Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan, from her appearance on Samira Ahmed’s consistently brilliant How I Found My Voice podcast. Like so many of the other folks in this selection of podcasting excellence, Ryan is a fascinating and fiercely individual character. This podcast provides a remarkable account of her life in just 40 minutes. Ryan describes how her life shaped her outlook and her comedy, taking in her schooldays, university, and how she first found her way into comedy via a digression into the matriarchal world of a Canadian branch of (I am sorry to have to type these words, gentle reader) Hooters. There is so much wit, wisdom and inspiration here. I particularly like Ryan’s honesty about the role that chance plays in all our lives:*** “Everything that’s happened to me has been by accident.”

Joe Rogan/Naval Ravikant

“The peace that we seek is not peace of mind but peace from mind.” Perfect words from Naval Ravikant’s June 2019 appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast. Naval could well be the most generous gent in social media. He shares his brilliant thoughts and worldview constantly via Twitter and podcasts, those of others and, of late, his own.**** This is two hours of wonderful conversation, densely packed with wisdom and words to provoke further thought. There are so many fascinating insights here that it almost feels unfair to spotlight one at the expense of others. But I particularly like Naval’s explanation of his use of podcasting and of Twitter as a means of giving form to thought:

“Talking to you, I learn as much as I say. And I learn it for myself because I’m being forced to articulate it. I can sit around and think my thoughts all day long. But a lot of it is going to be nonsense. But when you’re forced to write it down – and this is why I tweet – or when you have to talk to somebody, you have to complete these gaps and make it a proper logical chain.”

This podcast truly is not to be missed. And I didn’t even mention the fact that Naval also makes a very good stab here at explaining the meaning of life!*****


* Here is the first part: My top 5 podcasts of 2019 (so far!).

** If you know how much I love my music, I was stunned and delighted by the musical references in this podcast. Each one stopped me short with how closely they correspond with some of my own tastes: Wait, he knows what black metal is? Wait, he likes Slayer? Wait, he loves Sonic Youth’s Goo album!?!

*** This puts me in mind of the father of someone I knew at school, who had the following to say about chance in our working lives: “A career is a luxury you only get to enjoy in retrospect.”

**** Here is the three-hour compendium of every episode of Naval Ravikant’s How to get Rich podcast.

***** Joe Rogan’s JRE Clips channel helpfully extracts these words from Naval Ravikant on the meaning of life.




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