Lost Notes Presents: Bent By Nature


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 May 26, 2020
Great podcast! I highly recommend you listen to this because the stories are true, gritty, and just amazing. Music history is the best history there is! Please make more episodes.


A collection of the greatest music stories never told. Join Lost Notes for Bent By Nature , a new 10-part documentary series and digital archive about the most influential American DJ you've never heard of. Deirdre O’Donoghue was a vital force in the musical underground of the 1980s. Countless artists crammed into her studio to perform live on her late-night show, “SNAP!” on KCRW. And after 40 years, those legendary sessions will be heard again. Join Michael Stipe, Henry Rollins, Julian Cope, and more for a sound-packed series from the producers of Lost Notes and Unfictional transporting you to the heyday of ‘80s independent music and the DJ who shaped it.

Episode Date

It’s Independence Day Weekend, 1988. And Deirdre is celebrating the return of Glass Eye, her favorite independent act from Austin, Texas. They’ve just released their third album, “Bent By Nature.” But Deirdre’s allegiance to the band went much deeper than a catchy title. For her, they represented the very best of what Austin had to offer, which at the time also included “SNAP!” staples like the Reivers, the Wild Seeds, and Poi Dog Pondering. Glass Eye’s two principals, Kathy McCarty and Brian Beattie, say that whenever Glass Eye came to LA, Deirdre welcomed them with open arms and a sincere appreciation of their own bent nature.

Nov 25, 2021
Almost Magic

It’s September 4, 1986. And Deirdre has just met a kindred spirit in singer Syd Straw. Like Deirdre, Syd traveled in good company. You could pick out her voice on records by Los Lobos, Rickie Lee Jones, Was (Not Was), and more. As an early member of the indie supergroup The Golden Palominos, she was a feature on Deirdre’s playlists long before she became a regular guest.

Most artists that appeared on “SNAP!” will tell you how comfortable Deirdre made them feel. That absolutely resulted in fantastic on-air performances. But Syd and Deirdre took that to a whole new level. If Deirdre had an official partner-in-crime, it was Syd Straw, who appeared on the show five times. She would sing with a band, or over backing tapes that she brought with her, or she would just guest DJ. And no topic was off limits. They had their own wild chemistry: funny, fearless, and more than a little bent.

In 1989, Syd struck out on a solo career which eventually took her to New York City. But even now, Syd is rich with memories of the pioneering DJ and friend whom she called “The Godmother.”

Nov 18, 2021
Inside Out

In 1988, while most of the music world was fawning over Morrissey’s solo debut, Deirdre O’Donoghue was all-in on a new record from a lesser-known English band: The Mighty Lemon Drops. After years of support on “SNAP!,” their single “Inside Out” blew up in the U.S., becoming a college rock anthem and MTV staple that launched the band into pop consciousness and amphitheater tours. 

The Lemon Drops’ guitarist David Newton and his wife Bekki join us to discuss the strange twists and turns which brought them together, with Deirdre in tow, as the Lemon Drops reached their ascendancy.

Nov 11, 2021
Music Could Be Your Whole Life
Illustration of Deirdre O'Donoghue with birds and a cup of tea
Illustration by Meredith Schomburg

In episode two of Bent By Nature, co-producer Bob Carlson explores the life of influential and enigmatic DJ Deirdre O’Donoghue behind the mic. Born in New York City and DJing across the country before landing at KCRW to host "SNAP!", O’Donoghue didn’t talk much about her past or private life — even in the face of personal demons, and eventually, her deteriorating health. 

But O’Donoghue’s fierce passion for music manifested in close friendships with those who came through her studio and beyond, from artists like Michael Stipe and Julian Cope, to record store owners, to young station volunteers she nurtured and mentored. Even amidst a kind of self-appointed solitude, O’Donoghue devoted herself to those she chose to let in, coming to the aid of artists in dire straits and offering solace within her record-filled apartment alongside a cup of tea and her cherished pet birds.  

Her presence could, and did, change lives. Here, some of O’Donoghue’s closest friends, including Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano, Tricia Halloran, and the late Pat Fish of Jazz Butcher, reflect on O’Donoghue’s life away from the studio and the many stories they shared. 

Nov 04, 2021
This Is 'SNAP!'

Before Soundcloud and Bandcamp, there was Deirdre O'Donoghue and "SNAP!," the LA DJ and radio show that served as a waypoint for underground music, artists, and its fans — and helped shape the sound of independent and D.I.Y. culture today.  In the first episode of "Bent By Nature," co-producer Bob Carlson introduces O’Donoghue and goes inside the community she cultivated, her passion for music, and the problems she had with KCRW’s management and staff.  Featuring archival live performances by Camper Van Beethoven, the Meat Puppets, Glass Eye, Jazz Butcher, the Dream Syndicate, and more.

Oct 28, 2021
Trailer: Bent By Nature

She was the most influential American DJ you’ve never heard of. Deirdre O’Donoghue was a vital force in the musical underground of the 1980s. Countless artists crammed into her studio to perform live on her late-night show, “SNAP!” on KCRW. And after 40 years, those legendary sessions will be heard again. Join Michael Stipe, Henry Rollins, Julian Cope, and more for a sound-packed series from the producers of Lost Notes and Unfictional transporting you to the heyday of ‘80s independent music and the DJ who shaped it.

Oct 19, 2021
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.

Sep 24, 2020
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 album. Filled with leftover recordings and celebrity cameos, “Love Lives Forever” is an album full of ghosts.

Sep 24, 2020
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. But a recording mishap meant the concert needed to be recorded in a more intimate, perhaps even better, setting.

Sep 24, 2020
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 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.

Sep 24, 2020
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 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.

Sep 24, 2020
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. 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.

Sep 24, 2020
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. 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. 

Sep 24, 2020
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. 

Sep 10, 2020
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 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. 

Aug 06, 2020
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 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.

Jun 18, 2020
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.

Jun 13, 2019
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.

Jun 06, 2019
Imagining Billy Tipton

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

May 30, 2019
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.

May 28, 2019
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?

May 23, 2019
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.

May 16, 2019
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.

May 09, 2019
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.

May 02, 2019
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.

Apr 25, 2019
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 when we apply our 2019 politics to 1974’s songs. And hear from pioneering women who have been written out of music’s history.

Apr 03, 2019
Reissue: Unfictional - Nature Boy
The strange story of the postwar pop standard "Nature Boy" and its enigmatic creator, eden ahbez.
Jan 31, 2019
Reissue: Heat Rocks - Cymande

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

Oct 10, 2018
Reissue: The Dove
A global pop icon appears in a most unexpected place in this story from Pod Planet’s Clive Desmond.
Aug 21, 2018
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.

Jul 31, 2018
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.

May 24, 2018
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 winning the homeowner a million dollars.

May 17, 2018
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 Susan Orlean recounts her reporting on the band’s strange trip to unexpected fame.

May 10, 2018
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 songwriter?

May 03, 2018
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?

Apr 26, 2018
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).

Apr 19, 2018
Louie Louie: The Strange Journey of the Dirtiest Song Never Written

An FBI Investigation, an engagement ring, wine coolers...  the surprising story behind the ubiquitous anthem that every teenager bangs out on their first guitar.

Apr 12, 2018
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?

Apr 12, 2018
Introducing Lost Notes

Hear a preview of Lost Notes, an anthology of some of the greatest music stories never truly told. Top journalists present stand-alone audio documentaries that highlight music’s head, heart and beat, with host Solomon Georgio as your guide.

Apr 05, 2018