From Andrew Weatherall to Seán Ó Riada, 20 music experiences and performances which have lifted us during the lockdown...

Every night for the last few weeks, ever since the world went to hell in a handcart, I open the front door last thing at night and step outside for a few minutes.

Don't ask me why. Nothing changes on my block. The gaffs are still standing, the foxes are still prowling in the back lanes, the cherry blossom on the corner is still alight. The distant sounds which used to punctuate the night air are muted – the traffic is duller in tone, the trains don’t rattle on the rails, the ships sail silently by on the high seas. The moon still lights the way, though. Let's be thankful for that.

Anyway, I stand there and look up and down the street. I look up at the inky sky. I’m sure any neighbours peering out their windows think I’ve lost the plot again.

Like I said, I’ve no idea what I’m looking for or looking at or looking to. It’s a ritual, another routine to add to the list. We get by on rituals and routines these days. We cling to them. They dot the hours while we wait for Fergal Bowers or George Lee or Tony Holohan to tell us what the feck is going on. It’s only taken a month to bring us to this state. Who knows what we’ll be like a month from now?

Another ritual is the daily music tip. At some stage every day, I’ll post a tip of an album or a mixtape or a session on Twitter. No idea if anyone is paying attention. But for once, this social media activity is not about pushing or plugging or promoting like 98% of social media activity (the other 2% is about arguing with strangers). No, these daily prompts are to remind me of something.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been lost in music. It has been the best rescue remedy imaginable down the years. Music has made me and broken me and transformed me and saved me more times than I can recount. I made a decent living for years writing about music, but that buzz which music has always given me, that buzz which never appeared on any end-of-year tax form, has provided much more.

So this ritual is for me. A reminder of just what music can do when your body’s in trouble. A reminder of how music can still you when your mind is wired and your head is distracted and your brain is racing and you're definitely not alone in any of this carry-on. Music provides the escape pod and the velocity you need to run away with the circus for a while. It provides both ballast and acceleration, stuff to ground you and stuff to lift you. It’s the work of ordinary human beings just like you and me, but ordinary human beings with superhuman powers when it comes to making music. I've edited out that line about capes and gowns and masks. 

Over the last few weeks, then, I’ve kept to this ritual. One music tip a day. Some are vintage finds re-upped and reupholstered for these newly medieval times. Some are new works whose width and depth is the perfect measurement for what we’re all going through. All strike the right note. Here are the first 20. Dive in and, if you do go out your front door to look at the night sky, don’t forget to take your keys with you.

(1) The late great Andrew Weatherall's Music's Not For Everyone show broadcast for NTS Radio from January 2nd 2020

(2) Moodymann brings the soul & the funk for a rollerskating jam at Red Bull Music Academy London 2010

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(3) Beth Gibbons & the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra collaborate for a spine-tingling performance of Górecki's Symphony No 3

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(4) Saturday nights are not the same without Kelly Anne Byrne on the radio kicking out the jams so here's a new mix from her to dig into

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(5) Alice Coltrane's "The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda" may well be the most transcendant music you’ll hear this spring afternoon

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(6)  Tony Allen and the late, great Hugh Masekela joins forces for a powerhouse of an album called "Rejoice"

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(7) Midland's "As the city sleeps" mixtape from 2018 seems incredibly apt as we head into a period of lockdown, isolation & quarantine. Dreamy ambient sounds & bewitching piano works galore

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(8) There have been 10 fascinating & enthralling releases in the Spiritual Jazz compilation series from Jazzman Records to date & this playlist rounds up 120 or so of the featured tracks

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(9) An absolutely mighty 1997 BBC Radio One Essential Mix from Daft Punk, recorded long before flashy motorbike helmets & "Get Lucky"

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(10) It seems like we've been waiting centuries for Jay Electronica to get off his hoop & release a debut album. "A Written Testimony" shows that this was time worth taking - an album which ducks & dives with sublime aplomb

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(11) It's been years since I checked out Maria McKee's "You Gotta Sin To Get Saved" but there’s still an awesome kick & a swagger to it, which works wonders 27 years down the road

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(12) One of the best Irish albums of the last couple of years is "Bleaching Bones" by Landless. Quite amazed that so few still know about this stunning collection of sublime voices, stirring arrangements and timeless songs

(13) it may be time to rewatch The Straight Story again, David Lynch's tale of one man’s voyage across America on a John Deere lawnmower. The score by Angelo Badalamenti is a work of considerable beauty

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(14) Recorded in 1969, "Ó Riada sa Gaiety" from Seán Ó Riada and Ceoltóirí Cualann will never let you down

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(15) A playlist of selected highlights from The Black Madonna's ace We Still Believe weekly radio show - full to the brim with deep disco & house grooves

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(16) I've been listening to a lot of jazz this weather & the late McCoy Tyner's 1967 groundbreaker "The Real McCoy" is a stunner still capable of making you go "wow"

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(17) The new Nicolas Jaar album "Cenizas" is pretty sweet, but it sent me off to re-up this darling jewel of a BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix from 2012

(18) The magnificent 2016 album "Black Terry Cat" from Xenia Rubinos still sounds so damn fresh. A slew of funky exhilarating thumpers with brains from the heart of Brooklyn

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(19) The new album from Meg Remy AKA U.S. Girls is called "Heavy Light" & its farside pop & wonky grooves are an uncanny match for these oddball days

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(20) The new album from Melt Yourself Down is called "100% YES" & it's a joyous, freewheeling, giddy, punchy antidote to life in lockdown