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If there's a sliver of a silver lining in these uncertain times, it's music — from free virtual

This week, All Thing Considered is launching a new recurring segment called "Play It Forward." It's a musical chain of gratitude, and it's something we've actually done on the program every Thanksgiving Day for the last five years: I start the chain with an artist that I'm thankful for, and then that musician chooses someone they're thankful for, and then we continue onward with each artist choosing the next link in the chain.

One of the pioneers of Afro-funk music, the saxophonist Manu Dibango, has died of COVID-19. He was 86 years old, and died in Paris. Internationally, he was best known for his 1972 song "Soul Makossa," though his entire oeuvre could have been the soundtrack to a cooler 1970s than most people lived. But that one, funk-drenched hit, lit by Dibango's burning saxophone, went on to influence the sound of American disco — and its hooky spoken intro helped power songs by Michael Jackson and Rihanna.

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Conor Oberst has kept busy since the last Bright Eyes rec

Twenty seconds of hand washing. 60 to 90 percent alcohol. Six feet of distance. People worldwide have absorbed these guidelines as the coronavirus pandemic has closed its fist around the world. But humans also need to keep the spirit moving, as did Charles Dickens — who lived through a few epidemics — by taking a daily "breather" in the fresh air. Here we offer recommendations for psychic health from people who go deep into their own hearts and minds: artists and writers. Creative people have been uniquely affected by the onset of the current pandemic.

"Nothing to be done."

Estragon's opening line from Waiting for Godot has been spooling around like a tape loop, decaying yet cacophonous, in my head all week. Revisiting a dog-eared copy from high school, Samuel Beckett's play reads like the same piece of music played in two noise-canceled rooms — we the audience experience a melody waver in discord, briefly align, turn out of sorts, and on and on.

Late last summer, saxophonist Joshua Redman engaged in some light time travel: For a couple of nights, he reconvened a stellar ensemble he'd led 25 years prior, with Brad Mehldau on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Brian Blade on drums.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


On Monday March 30, Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, was to perform a long awaited Tiny Desk concert at my desk. Now the world has changed, and with the coronavirus keeping us at a distance, we're taking a break from filming Tiny Desks at the office for a while.

Like a fast-moving echo of the pandemic itself, music that confronts coronavirus is multiplying rapidly. A playlist created by Spotify "data alchemist" Glenn McDonald has been tracking songs about the ongoing pandemic, and the resulting daily chart is astounding. More than 400 songs have made the list since McDonald created it two weeks ago.

Stuck at home? Self-isolating? Quarantined? Feeling a bit (or extremely) anxious about this whole situation? Same. These days, I'm hosting World Cafe from a small apartment in Toronto. I haven't been outside in days, and I know I'm not alone.

So I made a playlist about all those feelings. On it, you'll find songs about isolation: about being alone and not leaving the house. There are songs about wondering what it's like outside now, and wondering what it will be like outside when this is over. And finally, there are songs about what to do to pass the time.

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