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 Considered
9:43 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Tiny Desk Concert Contest Phase 2: Judging Begins

This is all I do anymore.
Morgan McCloy NPR

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 12:37 pm

I've basically stopped going to concerts. For me, this is kind of like I've stopped eating or sleeping. If you're looking for me these days, you can find me at my computer, watching musicians play their heart out for a chance to perform at NPR's Tiny Desk. After six busy weeks, the Tiny Desk Concert Contest eligibility period is now closed, and we've moved on to the next stage: judging.

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All Songs Considered
9:58 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield, 'Somebody That I Used To Know'

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield.
Crackerfarm

The songs of Elliott Smith are widely revered — especially by those who came of age in the '90s — but a new generation of listeners is only beginning to discover him. Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith is likely to expose new fans to the great singer-songwriter. Smith released five albums in his lifetime and died in 2003 from two stab wounds to the chest; he'd left a suicide note. His songs, which often dealt with depression and desperation, were beautiful and frequently quiet.

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All Songs Considered
11:15 am
Tue January 20, 2015

New Mix: Dan Deacon, THEESatisfaction, Jackson Scott, More

Clockwise from upper left: Dan Deacon, Tanya Tagaq, THEESatisfaction, Jackson Scott
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 8:15 am

This week on All Songs Considered: Our favorite electronic artist, Dan Deacon, is back with another playfully infectious dance party, one he recorded both in the studio and in bathrooms and greenrooms during his most recent tour. Also, NPR Music contributor Katie Presley joins us with a hypnotic groove from the Seattle-based duo THEESatisfaction and a slow-burning jam from New Orleans singer-songwriter Kristin Diable.

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All Songs Considered
4:03 am
Mon January 19, 2015

Song Premiere: Bob Dylan, 'Stay With Me'

Bob Dylan's next album, Shadows In The Night, out on February 3, is a selection of songs made famous by Frank Sinatra.
William Claxton Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 4:53 pm

Trying to predict a musical future is impossible. I have proof: Bob Dylan is recording songs Frank Sinatra made popular! No one saw this coming and nothing could prepare us for it. It's weird and kind of wonderful. Here's a man clearly in love with the Great American Songbook and despite his restricted vocal he's brave enough to tackle it.

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All Songs Considered
9:11 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Tiny Desk Contest Entries Just Keep Coming

Our search to find the next great unknown musician to play at the Tiny Desk ends Monday.
NPR

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 11:33 am

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Bob Boilen's Favorite Concert Photos Of 2014

Ty Segall on stage at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.
Bob Boilen NPR

I go to so many shows, and for years I've been taking photos with my phone and posting them on my Instagram account @tinydesk. But a few months into 2014 I bought one of those tiny little mirrorless cameras by Sony. Then I caught the photo bug pretty bad (or good).

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Fri January 9, 2015

662 Shows In 365 Days: Bob Boilen's Year In Concerts

St. Vincent's Annie Clark, who played Bob Boilen's favorite concert of 2014, on stage at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on March 2, 2014.
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 9:28 am

I missed another year of TV shows. I missed every single Netflix and HBO series. I did, however, see four times as many movies in 2014 as I did in 2013: four, instead of just one. What I did see once again was a whole lot of live music, 662 performances to be exact. (I count each band as a show or performance.) In a year packed full of concerts, I saw 555 different bands in 144 venues across 16 cities. It turns out I saw exactly the same amount of shows this year as last, which made me laugh ... guess I've hit my ceiling.

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All Songs Considered
1:06 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

A New Mix For The New Year: Panda Bear, The Go! Team, More

Clockwise from upper left: Panda Bear, Jessica Pratt, cover art for Red Baraat, Ian Parton of The Go! Team
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 11:04 am

In case you missed it, we took a rocket ride to outer space for the holidays. But this week we re-dock at the mother ship Earth to ring in the new year toting a new mix that includes premieres from The Go!

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All Songs Considered
12:03 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Have An Oddly Jolly Christmas: A Quirky Holiday Playlist

Crate-digger and director Mitchell Kezin shows off one of his Christmas finds in a still from his documentary, Jingle Bell Rocks!
Elaine Littman Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 7:27 am

Searching for Christmas music you've never heard before? Well, Mitchell Kezin is a collector of what he calls "Christmas orphans," those Christmas songs hardly played and mostly unknown. After being a closet collector of Christmas music for years, now he's directed a documentary about obsessive crate-diggers who specialize in rare Christmas music.

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All Songs Considered
8:30 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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All Songs Considered
11:00 am
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 12:22 pm

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All Songs Considered
9:08 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 10:23 am

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
10:33 am
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 7:50 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 Considered
7:45 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Song Premiere: Asaf Avidan, 'Over My Head'

Singer, Asaf Avidan
Dudi Hasson Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 11:12 am

Earlier this year I heard a voice like no other. In fact, when I heard the song "Different Pulses," I was sure it was a woman. I imagined someone like Janis Joplin. But the singer, the young Israeli Asaf Avidan, is the man in the photo above. He's well known back home and in Europe — an unauthorized remix of "One Day/Reckoning Song" has fifteen million views on YouTube. When he came to the U.S.

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Wed September 10, 2014

George Harrison, 'This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 10:11 am

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All Songs Considered
10:00 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Song Premiere: Barbra Streisand And John Legend Together

Barbra Streisand during a recording session in Burbank, Calif.
Jason Merritt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 10:11 am

Barbra Streisand, one of the most loved singers of all time and the best-selling female recording artist ever (according to RIAA statistics) has teamed up with the ever soulful, gospel-inspired singer John Legend on a song she originally recorded with Bee Gees singer and songwriter Barry Gibb in 1980.

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All Songs Considered
10:49 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Alt-J Will Debut New Album Live In New York

Thom Green, Joe Newman and Gus Unger-Hamilton of alt-J
Gabriel Green Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun October 26, 2014 3:28 pm

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All Songs Considered
7:31 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Song Premiere: Generationals, 'Black Lemon'

The Generationals fourth album 'Alix'
Akasha Rabut Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 10:14 am

As the end of summer nears, here's one more bouncy tune to carry you into fall. "Black Lemon," by Generationals, two former high school buddies Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer, mixes marimba-based jolliness and lyrics tinged with darkness. It looks at life's ties that bind and searches for ways to chill and not fight every battle.

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Music
2:45 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Jenny Lewis Stands Out With 'Voyager'

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 8:56 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

All Songs Considered
9:12 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Song Premiere: An Unlikely Collaboration From Cat Power And Coldplay

Wish I Was Here
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 10:18 am

It seems the unlikeliest of collaborations: Cat Power, a American songwriter and singer who can be quiet and somewhat insular, and Coldplay, now a veteran band from London that is immensely popular, confident and bold. And still, what happens in this recording, the title track for the film Wish I Was Here, feels so right.

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All Songs Considered
9:11 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Song Premiere: Bon Iver Writes A Tune For Zach Braff

The soundtrack album art for the film "Wish I Was Here"
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 12:20 pm

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All Songs Considered
9:43 am
Sat June 28, 2014

Guess Monday's Mystery Song Premiere

NPR

On Monday at noon we're premiering a brand-new song from an artist we love. Until then, we're leaving you this puzzle to ponder: Who is Monday's Mystery Musician?

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

All Songs Considered
12:35 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

A Catchy Synth-Pop 'Summer Jam' From Grimes

Claire Boucher, aka Grimes
Mac Boucher Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun October 26, 2014 3:31 pm

Claire Boucher, best known as Grimes, has a new song. It's the first new music we've heard from Grimes since she made a lot of noise with her album Visions in 2012. In a press release, she calls the new song, "Go," which features Michael Diamond, a 22-year-old L.A.

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All Songs Considered
8:03 am
Tue June 24, 2014

The Making Of OK Go's 'The Writing's On The Wall' Video

A behind-the-scenes look at OK Go making their video "The Writing's on the Wall."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 10:39 am

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All Songs Considered
10:02 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Song Premiere: Robert Plant's Bold New Band

Robert Plant and his new band The Sensational Space Shifters.
Frank Melfi Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:09 am

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All Songs Considered
7:00 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Song Premiere: Sylvan Esso Mixes It Up With Grouplove

Grouplove is (clockwise from left) Andrew Wessen, Ryan Rabin, Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper.
Joseph Ilanes Courtesy of the artist

Sylvan Esso, some of the brightest new makers of music this year, have just remixed "I'm With You," the leadoff track from Grouplove's 2013 album Spreading Rumors. What Sylvan Esso's electronic wiz Nick Sanborn has done to the song is transformative.

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All Songs Considered
8:54 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Song Premiere: The Shins And Zach Braff Reunite

The soundtrack album art for the film "Wish I Was Here"
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 2:51 pm

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All Songs Considered
3:45 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Sole Of A Band, June 19

Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on

Baggy pants make different music than skinny jeans. Cowboy hats sound different than fedoras. T-shirt-and-jeans bands make a different noise than suit-and-tie bands. You can often look at a band's clothing and have a pretty good idea what it'll sound like.

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All Songs Considered
12:38 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Song Premiere: alt-J, 'Hunger Of The Pine'

alt-J, from left: Thom Green, Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton.
Gabriel Green Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 2:21 pm

In 2012, alt-J made its debut with An Awesome Wave, and every one of those 13 songs would slay me. Now the band has returned with another shifting and intrepid sonic adventure, "Hunger of the Pine," which will appear on alt-J's second album, This Is All Yours, out on Sept. 22.

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