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Lost Notes

Author: KCRW

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KCRW’s acclaimed music documentary podcast, Lost Notes, is back for its fourth season! Co-hosts Novena Carmel (KCRW) and Michael Barnes (KCRW / KPFK / Artform Radio) guide you through eight wildly different and deeply human stories, each set against the kaleidoscopic backdrop of LA’s soul and R&B scene of the 1950s-1970s.
98 Episodes
Lost Notes returns with a brand new episode next Wednesday. To tide you over, we’re featuring a deep dive into Kendrick Lamar’s 2022 album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers from our friends at Switched on Pop.
Lost Notes explores how the song “Viva Tirado” exemplifies the inter-generational musical conversation between LA’s Black and Brown communities.
Lost Notes explores how Fela Kuti’s time in LA in 1969 was instrumental in the creation of his legendary Afrobeat sound.
Lost Notes details the darkly hilarious schemes of record-label magnate Ruth Christie, who instigated one of the most absurd court cases in music history.
Long before “Tainted Love” was an ‘80s anthem, it was a 1965 B-side by LA’s Gloria Jones. We trace the song’s journey from a warehouse floor to the annals of pop history.
‘Lost Notes’ returns for Season 4 with a special preview episode about the song “Tainted Love,” and its lesser-known origins as a forgotten ‘60s soul gem from LA.
Talking Heads’ 1984 film, Stop Making Sense, has long been regarded by critics and fans alike as one of the greatest concert films ever made. A new A24 restoration of the film is out in theaters now. Director Jonathan Demme dropped in on Deirdre for a guest DJ set while the film was still in theaters. Demme sat in for SNAP No. 172 on November 8, 1984, spinning a wild selection of his favorite music — including the premiere of a then-unheard Talking Heads song — and discussing the making of the now-iconic film.  Read on for their conversation and dive into his song choices with our Jonathan Demme Spotify playlist. 
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, reinforced and reimagined in a new decade freshly obsessed with risk.
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 album. Filled with leftover recordings and celebrity cameos, “Love Lives Forever” is an album full of ghosts.
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 decades. The 1980 concert wound up happening in neighboring Lesotho — and the performance became about defiance, namely against the Apartheid government in South Africa. But a recording mishap meant the concert needed to be recorded in a more intimate, perhaps even better, setting.
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 well into December 8th, the day John Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman. As radio stations in Los Angeles began to start their marathon of Germs songs, John Lennon lay dying in New York, at the doorway to his apartment. Eventually news and radio stations broke away to deliver what must have seemed like a larger, more urgent heartbreak.
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 Order was made up of people who were weighed down by grief and regrets. Straining themselves to make sure they did justice to the words Ian Curtis couldn’t bring himself to sing.
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. The debut, self-titled album by the Sugarhill Gang wasn’t received without controversy, and wasn’t received without skepticism. When one thinks about the greatest rap groups of all time, Sugarhill Gang might be an afterthought, says Lost Notes host Hanif Abdurraqib. But, sometimes, legacy is not about the spark itself, but about the flame the spark causes.
Stevie Wonder released seven albums from 1970 to 1976. It is an impenetrable run of albums and songs, one of the greatest in music history. Then, in 1979, he faced his first defeat of the decade. Reviews for “Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants” were harshly mixed. So in 1980 Stevie was due for a comeback. Lost Notes host Hanif Abdurraqib reflects on the album and Wonder’s call for the observation of Martin Luther King’s birthday as a national holiday. 
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. 
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 before, but they lived and breathed the New York City music scene and wanted nothing more than to be a part of it. They worked in record stores, ran fan clubs, and spent every second they could together, hanging in clubs like CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City — clubs they’d eventually headline.  Soon after they formed the band, they played a practice gig at one of their high schools and took off from there. They spent their days studying for physics tests and practicing for French finals and spent their nights drinking White Russians and rubbing elbows with their rock heroes.  In their two years together, they headlined their favorite clubs, went on tour, made recordings, got interviewed on the radio, opened for Iggy Pop and hung with David Bowie in the recording studio. As the decade came to a close and they got a little older, their love for each other dwindled, and the band imploded. But what a beautiful and wild ride it was. This is the story of the Student Teachers, in their own words. 
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 quickly gained a following for their air-tight funk, they were always meant to be much more than mere entertainment. Peter Gilstrap reports on the rise and fall of an unlikely R&B group born out of social upheaval.
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.
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.
Jazz pianist Billy Tipton has been celebrated by some as a trans pioneer – but his story resists an easy telling.
Comments (13)

Mostly Inactive

These guys sound like they don’t want to be there. Rude, condescending.

Jun 17th


release it on Bandcamp

May 9th


Season 1 - 5 stars best music podcast available. Season 2 - 1.5 stars, change the name to Lost Plot, a couple okay episodes but mostly it's more of an attempt to be marraige of the current news cycle and a loose tie-in to music 2nd. All that aside, even with the chosen course, though well produced, the writting occassionally is on par with a 6th grader school presentation, the last episode of season 2 is a perfect example of that. Hoping season 3 will be better or I'll be a Lost Fan.

Jun 20th

Joe Rooney

this is incredible. I love discoveries like this. hybrids of old and new music that quite often comes the children of immigrants or the locals who are influenced by immigrant culture. that is what created the Pogues and The Specials.

Jun 17th

Javier Bassi

Amazing story. Such a ahead-of-her-time woman. Thank you.

Feb 2nd

Ron Hudson

Thanks for what you all do at Lost Notes! Every episode leaves me glad I heard it. Especially when you tell the story of someone like the Shagg's. I have heard a lot about the Top 40 bands so it means a lot to me to learn about the other people that have been apart of the Music Industry and their stories that would otherwise have become forgotten...

Jun 21st

Joshua Davis


Jun 11th
Reply (1)

dustin dizon

Thanks for bringing us some interesting, often ignored topics. Can't wait for the next season!

Jun 7th

Rafa Rivera

I don't understand

May 26th

Daniel Gonçalves

an incredible story. very well told.

May 20th

Jami Rinderknecht

great show

May 13th

Bryan Sandlin

Fascinating first episode! Won't spoil any of the interesting facts I had no idea about so just listen for yourself. Episode 2 had me on the edge of my seat! Definitely looking forward to more...

Apr 12th
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