Abbey Lincoln, starting out our playlist with Lost in the Stars, confesses that “Sometimes it seems maybe God’s gone away / Forgetting the promise that we’ve heard him say / And we’re lost out here in the stars”.
Who is Elkie Brooks to disagree? Her Pearl’s a Singer introduces us to a crooner, perhaps a bit unmoored herself, for the “lost and the lonely”. And, to judge by his Lost Highway, Hank Williams could have been in the front row: “I’m a rollin’ stone all alone and lost / For a life of sin I’ve paid the cost.”
The protagonist of Grandaddy’s He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot isn’t faring much better: “Adrift again 2000 man / You lost your maps / You lost the plans.” The Cure, in A Forest, are less judgmental – but the sense of helpless disorientation is the same.
And the Clash show that even a trip for weekly groceries can lead one to get Lost in the Supermarket, where we can “no longer shop happily”. Perhaps nowhere is safe.
Groceries would be a luxury in Throbbing Gristle’s Walkabout, referring to the Indigenous Australian rite of passage, a journey alone in the wilderness.
Chet Baker, in Let’s Get Lost, agrees that some time apart from civilised society might not be such a terrible thing. Baker suggests to his lover that they “get lost in each other’s arms” while the powers that be “send out alarms”. Perhaps that’s fine when a relationship is going well, but for Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton in Can’t Find My Way Home, a troubled relationship leaves a protagonist abandoned and “wasted”.
Send out the search party, and when they’re done, kindly move on to Sun RaArkestra’s The Forest of No Return. Here the jazz composer covers a Disney song, but this isn’t the stuff of happy dwarves and cheery princesses. The titular forest is ominous and foreboding – and will “never let you go”.
There are some dilemmas GPS just can’t solve. Gauguin may never get his answer, but, fortunately, in the topic of being lost we have found compelling music.