Lost Notes
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Lost Notes

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Grace Jones

In 1980, anti-disco sentiment was at a high and Grace Jones was coming off a trilogy of disco albums. If she stayed stagnant, it felt like her career could be swept away. And so out of disco’s death rattle – driven by the discomfort of white male tastemakers – Grace Jones rose, r ...  Show more

Minnie Riperton

Most know Minnie Riperton because of one part in one song. “Lovin’ You” was Riperton’s biggest hit, and she doesn’t sing that magic, piercing note until around the 3-minute mark. Cancer took Riperton away tragically in 1979, and the next year producers got to work on a posthumous ...  Show more

Hugh Masekela & Miriam Makeba

In December of 1980, two exiled artists and freedom fighters attempted return to their home in South Africa for a concert. Jazz musician Hugh Masekela and singer Miriam Makeba were briefly married, but they had a robust collaborative relationship that stretched across multiple de ...  Show more

John Lennon & Darby Crash

Punk singer Darby Crash dreamed of immortality. The single full-length Germs album was to become a holy grail of music history, and his passing might’ve made him a legend, but Darby Crash died on December 7th, 1980. By the time the news of his death began to circulate, it was wel ...  Show more

Ian Curtis

In May of 1980, Joy Division lost its lead singer, Ian Curtis. The band decided that they would carry on with a different name. From the cutting room floor, a song with Ian Curtis haphazardly slurring the words he’d written became the first single for a decade-defining band. New ...  Show more

The Sugarhill Gang

In 1979, "Rapper’s Delight" was released and went on to become the first Top 40 hip-hop single. Sugarhill Gang almost had no choice but to follow the single up with a full-length. So in the early months of 1980, a six song, nearly forty minute album by a rap group was released. T ...  Show more

Introducing Lost Notes: 1980

This season the poet and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib explores the year 1980. It was the brilliant, awkward and sometimes heartbreaking opening to a monumental decade in popular music.  

BONUS: Teenagers Surfing on the Wave of the Apocalypse

Our second of two Lost Notes bonus episodes for this summer. This one is about The Student Teachers. In 1977, a group of music obsessed friends got together and decided to form a band. Most of them were still in high school and almost none of them had even picked up an instrument ...  Show more

BONUS: Power to the People

The new season of Lost Notes will be here in September. Meantime, this summer, we’re sharing a couple of bonus episodes. Fifty years ago, an unlikely musical group evolved out of the Oakland chapter of the Black Panther Party. They were called The Lumpen. And although they quickl ...  Show more

Song of a Gun

As long as there have been guns, there have been songs about guns. But American culture's relationship with guns is changing. Does popular music reflect that? We take a look at the history of music's relationships with guns, and gun control activism, to find out. 

Beyond Disco: Nermin Niazi and Feisal Mosleh

In the early ‘80s, two teenage siblings in London recorded an album that fused Pakistani pop and British New Wave. It became a perfect harmony of the two worlds they lived in. This is the story behind their lost masterpiece. 

Imagining Billy Tipton

Jazz pianist Billy Tipton has been celebrated by some as a trans pioneer – but his story resists an easy telling. 

More on John Fahey and Legacy

As a supplement to our episode on John Fahey, we share a conversation between Jessica Hopper and Carla Green about artist legacies in the era of cancel culture and #MeToo. 

Living with John Fahey aka A Room Full of Flowers

John Fahey’s guitar playing influenced the sound of the American underground for generations. But how does that legacy change when you hear from three of the women who knew him best? 

A Castle On Top of A Hill: The True Story of Fanny

The rock band Fanny ruled the Sunset Strip in the 1970s, and they were supposed to be the next big thing. They explain the price women pay for being ahead of their time. 

Sonic Sculptor: Suzanne Ciani

Synth pioneer Suzanne Ciani used an esoteric instrument to design some of the most well-known commercial sounds of the 20th century. 

To Chan Marshall: A Letter to Cat Power

Poet and author Hanif Abdurraqib's letter to Cat Power about how her album The Greatest worked its way into his life. 

Teenage Offenders: Reckoning with a Punk Past

The Freeze were an early American punk band. Now, 40 years later, two members reckon with the lyrics they wrote as teenagers. 

Season 2 is Coming Soon

On this season of Lost Notes, the music journalist and author Jessica Hopper is looking at artist legacies. How do they hold up? How do they change over time? Learn how decades on a song can find new meaning, something different than when it was written. Find out what happens whe ...  Show more

Reissue: Unfictional - Nature Boy

The strange story of the postwar pop standard "Nature Boy" and its enigmatic creator, eden ahbez. 

Reissue: Heat Rocks - Cymande

Legendary DJ/crate-digger Cut Chemist professes his love for Cymande’s 1972 self-titled debut. 

Reissue: The Dove

A global pop icon appears in a most unexpected place in this story from Pod Planet’s Clive Desmond. 

Reissue: Mad About The Boy

We resurface a story from Falling Tree Productions that takes a look at the empowering flip-side of pop fandom. 

Searching for the Root: The Incredible Journey of Aisha Ali

In the wake of the swinging ‘60s, a young woman named Aisha Ali travels to North Africa in search of her roots. There, she single-handedly documents hours and hours of music and film from Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt ... much of it still unheard. 

A Million Dollars Worth of Plastic

In 1989 McDonald’s ran the biggest flexi-disc promotion ever, sending out 80 million discs (playing the “Menu Song”) as inserts in newspapers all over the country. A very special copy of this record was almost burned to heat a family home in Galax, Virginia. Instead, it ended up ...  Show more

Shaggs’ Own Thing: The Story of the Wiggin Sisters

One of the most unlistenable bands of the ‘60s became a cult favorite decades later, gaining praise from the likes of Frank Zappa, Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth. But did the Wiggin sisters from Fremont, New Hampshire even want to be in a band in the first place? The New Yorker’s Su ...  Show more

Johnny Tried: The Ballad of Glen Sherley

When Johnny Cash played his iconic concert at Folsom Prison he covered the song of one very talented inmate. Johnny pulled some strings, plucked Glen Sherley from prison and brought him out on the road. Did this turn of fortune wind up helping or hurting the formerly unknown song ...  Show more

New Edition’s Neighborhood Secret

The boys in New Edition were basketball fans from Boston - Celtics country. So what happened when they hung out with the L.A. Lakers in a music video during the height of the 1980s Celtics/Lakers rivalry? 

Electricity: Conversations With Captain Beefheart

In this intimate radio portrait of one of music’s most legendary eccentric geniuses, writer Kristine McKenna offers you a visceral experience of what it was like to be friends with Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart). 

Outlaws of the Airwaves: The Rise of Pirate Radio Station WBAD

Pirate radio station WBAD in New York was a beloved source for fans of underground, unsanitized hip-hop in the 1990s, but how high could this illegal operation fly while also staying under the radar?