Bob Boilen

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.

Significant listener interest in the music being played on All Things Considered, along with his and NPR's vast music collections, gave Boilen the idea to start All Songs Considered. "It was obvious to me that listeners of NPR were also lovers of music, but what also became obvious by 1999 was that the web was going to be the place to discover new music and that we wanted to be the premiere site for music discovery." The show launched in 2000, with Boilen as its host.

Before coming to NPR, Boilen found many ways to share his passion for music. From 1982 to 1986 he worked for Baltimore's Impossible Theater, where he held many posts, including composer, technician, and recording engineer. Boilen became part of music history in 1983 with the Impossible Theater production Whiz Bang, a History of Sound. In it, Boilen became one of the first composers to use audio sampling — in this case, sounds from nature and the industrial revolution. He was interviewed about Whiz Bang by Susan Stamberg on All Things Considered.

In 1985, the Washington City Paper voted Boilen 'Performance Artist of the Year.' An electronic musician, he received a grant from the Washington D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to work on electronic music and performance.

After Impossible Theater, Boilen worked as a producer for a television station in Washington, D.C. He produced several projects, including a music video show. In 1997, he started producing an online show called Science Live for the Discovery Channel. He also put out two albums with his psychedelic band, Tiny Desk Unit, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Boilen still composes and performs music and posts it for free on his website BobBoilen.info. He performs contradance music and has a podcast of contradance music that he produces with his son Julian.

Longtime NPR fans may remember another contribution Boilen made to NPR. He composed the original theme music for NPR's Talk of the Nation.

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All Songs TV
8:03 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Watch 'Road Dawgs,' A Mini-Documentary About Future Islands

Winners chronicles Future Islands' success following the band's performance of "Seasons (Waiting On You)" on Letterman.
Courtesy of the artist

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:03 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Yusuf/Cat Stevens: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 2:51 pm

In the summer of 1971, I was a camp counselor at a sleep-away camp for a bunch of 5- to 7-year-olds. For those eight weeks, I walked home with about $50. I bought a guitar and began to learn the songs I'd come to love from the recently released Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens.

"Father and Son" touched me most — it's a song about growing old, and about beliefs and conviction. More than 40 years later, that songwriter is performing at my desk with his son standing right behind me. You can never imagine the turns life will take.

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All Songs TV
11:01 am
Mon December 8, 2014

First Watch: U2 'Song For Someone'

A still from the video for U2's "Song for Someone," featuring the work of muralist Mode 2.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 12:05 pm


UPDATE: This video is no longer available here.

Tomorrow, as a companion to U2's album Songs of Innocence, the band is releasing Films of Innocence, one video for each song on the album. But today we've got an early preview of the video for "Song for Someone," which shows the creation of a mural by the British painter Mode 2 in the town of Omagh in Northern Ireland. The video will be available here until 11 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Dec. 9.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat December 6, 2014

St. Paul And The Broken Bones: Tiny Desk Concert

James Clark NPR

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 5:07 pm

Close your eyes and listen, and you might imagine someone who looks a bit like Otis Redding. Open them, and you're likely to see someone who looks more like your neighborhood bank teller.

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All Songs Considered
10:30 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Introducing Our Tiny Desk Concert Contest

Introducing our Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
NPR

Want to play a Tiny Desk Concert? Now's your chance: NPR Music and Lagunitas are holding a contest, and the winner gets to perform at my desk here at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:41 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Sam Amidon & Bill Frisell: Tiny Desk Concert

Bill Frisell (left), Sam Amidon and Shahzad Ismaily perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 16, 2014.
Susan Hale Thomas NPR

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 5:08 pm

Sam Amidon takes traditional music and makes it his own. He might begin with a traditional murder ballad and then morph it into something of his own, fueled by Bill Frisell's languidly atmospheric guitar, Shahzad Ismaily's minimal but essential percussion and Amidon's own yearning voice. At other times, Amidon weaves his own new tunes into worn, weary, seemingly ageless sagas.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat November 22, 2014

J Mascis: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

The loudest guy in the world came to the Tiny Desk to perform some of his quietest music. Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis, for years a guy who's turned my ears red, showed up armed with just an acoustic guitar. I even had an amp for that guitar all lined up, but he decided to not plug in.

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All Songs Considered
1:00 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

New Mix: TV On The Radio, Caribou, More

Clockwise from upper left: A Winged Victory For The Sullen, TV On The Radio, Samaris, Caribou
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 2:22 pm

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All Songs Considered
11:08 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Hear A Stunning Bonus Track From Angel Olsen's 'Burn Your Fire For No Witness'

Kelly Giarrocco Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 12:23 pm

When it came out in February, I told friends that the Angel Olsen album Burn Your Fire For No Witness was my favorite of the year so far. Now, here in late October, my love for that record has only grown deeper. The songs are sullen at times, on fire at others. All are memorable. It's one of those perfect records.

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All Songs Considered
12:33 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

Bob Boilen's Top 10 Discoveries From The 2014 CMJ Music Marathon

Bob Boilen NPR Music

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 9:50 am

Every fall, hundreds of bands migrate to New York City for the annual CMJ Music Marathon. Many of these groups are playing their first shows in NYC and for a lot of the audience — music journalists, college dj's and fans alike — it's their first taste of these young upstarts. My previous CMJ discoveries include such favorites as Courtney Barnett, Public Service Broadcasting, Foxygen, The Blow, Zola Jesus, Caveman ... the list is long.

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All Songs TV
8:32 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Watch A Trailer For 'R.E.M. By MTV'

MTV

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 1:28 pm

Oh my god, they look so young! It was 1981 when this little Athens, Ga. based band started making a splash. Over the years that followed they made waves. This small trailer for a larger documentary about R.E.M. is a beautiful peek at innocence, youth, the '80s and MTV. The music television network (it used to be that) and R.E.M. grew up together. Much of what that band did was documented on MTV, including its break up in 2011.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:07 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Anthony D'Amato: Tiny Desk Concert

Claire Eggers NPR

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 5:44 pm

Anthony D'Amato sings and writes in the tradition of Bruce Springsteen or Josh Ritter: His songs sound friendly musically, but they also tackle the difficult and the twisted. Like those great songwriters, D'Amato's work is universal without devolving into moping. There's also a spirit to these songs, as it's easy to imagine a crowd spontaneously backing these his powerful choruses.

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All Songs TV
10:42 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 'Vessel'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 1:29 pm

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First Listen
11:02 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

First Listen: Daniel Lanois, 'Flesh And Machine'

Daniel Lanois' new album, Flesh And Machine, comes out Oct. 28.
Margaret Marissen Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 12:45 pm

Sometimes it helps to know where an artist is from. Geography can define a sound, but while Daniel Lanois is from Ontario, he might as well hail from Saturn. His new album, Flesh And Machine, defies categorization; it has no songs and no words, with voices used only to provide textures.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
6:34 am
Sat October 18, 2014

Ásgeir: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 5:04 pm

When he was 20, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson released an album in Iceland, sung in Icelandic, with many of the words written by his father. Dýrð í dauðaþögn became the biggest-selling debut in Icelandic music history.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:37 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

The Bots: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

The Bots' members are brothers and bandmates whose playful, catchy songs rock hard. Singer-guitarist Mikaiah Lei is 21 and drummer Anaiah Lei is 17; they made their first album when they were 15 and 12, respectively. Pink Palms is their newest and best.

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All Songs TV
12:07 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Gregory Alan Isakov, 'Amsterdam'

Gregory Alan Isakov, 'Amsterdam'
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun October 26, 2014 5:22 pm

There's a climactic passage, near the end of Gregory Alan Isakov's "Amsterdam," that's punctuated by a moment in a glorious piece of stop-motion animation by Laura Goldhamer. I won't spoil it with description, but I understand how it took her a month and a half to create it. Here are Isakov's words:

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:29 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Jackson Browne: Tiny Desk Concert

James Clark NPR

Originally published on Tue October 7, 2014 9:47 am

My admiration for Jackson Browne began with his first album in 1971. I was wowed by the fact that the singer-songwriter had worked with Nico of Velvet Underground fame — his girlfriend at the time — on her first album, Chelsea Girl. He wrote one of my favorite songs on that record, "These Days."

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All Songs TV
1:13 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

tUnE-yArDs, 'Real Thing'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun October 26, 2014 5:25 pm

My favorite song from tUnE-yArDs 2014 release Nikki Nack has gotten a wacky, cartoony visual treatment.

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