Lost Notes: 1980
September 26, 2020 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Lost Notes: 1980
Lost Notes is a music documentary podcast from KCRW (Santa Monica, CA). For our third season, the poet and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib explores a single year: 1980 - the brilliant, awkward, and sometimes heartbreaking opening to a monumental decade in popular music. Check out the episode guide in the Extended Description. Here's my essay introducing the series. [Previously on Projects: Season 1 | Season 2]

s3e1: Stevie Wonder. 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.

s3e2: 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. The debut self-titled album by the Sugarhill Gang wasn’t received without controversy, and it wasn’t received without skepticism.

s3e3: 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's indecipherable lyrics became the first single for a decade-defining band.

s3e4: 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 7, 1980. By the time the news of his death began to circulate, it was well into December 8, the day John Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman.

s3e5: 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 decades. The 1980 concert wound up happening in neighboring Lesotho - and the performance became about defiance, namely against the Apartheid government in South Africa.

s3e6: 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 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.

s3e7: 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, reinforced and reimagined in a new decade, freshly obsessed with risk.
Role: Senior Producer
posted by mykescipark (3 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Hanif! On Hugh Masekela!I Oh, this gonna be good. Cannot wait to dive in--thank you!
posted by youarenothere at 9:39 PM on September 27


Amazing. Halfway through the Stevie episode, can't wait to listen to the rest.
posted by chococat at 11:03 PM on September 28


So exciting!!
posted by ChuraChura at 12:12 PM on September 30


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