The Grateful Dead’s live-music archive
I’ve never in my life been a Deadhead, but these are radical, transformative days. Jerry Garcia’s legendary jam band is commonly associated with wide-open spaces, LSD trips, and teddy-bear tattoos. Even so, the music’s gently loping tempos, daydreamy tunefulness, air of yearning, and only occasional pangs of paranoia have proved well suited for lockdown. Fans always say that the Dead’s music is best heard through bootlegs of its marathon concerts, heaps of which are hearable at archive.org. Lore also claims that its May 1977 gig at Cornell University is the band’s pinnacle. I started there, and, not after long, felt my plague anxieties dispelled by guitar gusts and mantras about the morning dew. — Spencer Kornhaber
Streaming playlists can control a room’s mood, but they do so in a definitionally impersonal fashion. In a moment of social starvation, perhaps it’s time to rediscover the extremely human listening companion that is the independent-radio DJ. A good place to start your quest to find the curator who’s right for you is New Jersey’s WFMU, the longest-running free-form station in the country. I tuned in for the time slot run by Ken (Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon eastern) and was transfixed not only by cozy Italian art-pop and wry punk anthems, but also by the host’s pandemic-themed humor (which also appears on the show’s blog of visual accompaniment and live listener commentary). At one point, Ken put on a Brian Eno song that he chose, he said, for its length, which would give him time to disinfect the studio. — S.K.
The BBC’s archive of radio plays
Before podcasts, before audiobooks even, the humble radio play was king. (In 1938, when Orson Welles’s “The War of the Worlds” was broadcast on CBS Radio, the drama was so believable that it reportedly convinced some listeners that an alien invasion was actually taking place.) In the United Kingdom, the BBC’s Radio 4 still broadcasts a new production almost every day, and the station’s online archives are full of treasures. A recent highlight is “The Man With the Golden Gun,” adapted from Ian Fleming’s 1965 James Bond novel and starring Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) as the British spy and Guillermo Díaz (Scandal) as the international assassin Francisco Scaramanga. But the station also has eco-thrillers, rom-coms, contemporary dramas, and modern spins on Greek mythology to sift through. — Sophie Gilbert
Literary recordings from thepostarchive
A video of a 1971 conversation between James Baldwin and a young Nikki Giovanni is the kind of archival gem that makes the YouTube channel thepostarchive a wonderful resource for sprucing up your isolation screen time. The 28-year-old Giovanni is a perfect parrying partner for a 47-year-old Baldwin as they talk about expatriatism and the complex, crooked effects of patriarchy on black households. Once you’re done listening, the channel has all kinds of other materials to peruse: readings, discussions, interviews, and lectures from literary figures, activists, and luminaries of the like. During a time when your attention span may feel shot, listening to legendary writers read their own poems and discuss their work is a beguiling way to engage with literature. — Myles Poydras