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 He performs contradance music and has a podcast of contradance music that he produces with his son Julian.

Boilen's first book, Your Song Changed My Life, will be published in April 2016 by HarperCollins.

There's new music from Bob Mould. His latest album, Patch The Sky, comes out March 25. One of this legendary musician's biggest fans — from his punk days of Hüsker Dü to the land of Sugar and his prolific and exciting solo records — is musician Ryan Adams. And as a fan and friend, Ryan invited Bob to his PAX-AM Studio and pressed record.

There's new music from Iggy Pop and it's pretty great.

I'd already been thinking a lot about George Martin. I've spent the last year writing a book about the songs that changed the lives of musicians, and in the introductory chapter I offer my own selection. "A Day in the Life," by The Beatles, changed the way I think about music. It's a song George Martin, who died on Tuesday at the age of 90, had a clear hand in.

"'One More' is in your face. It's raw." Those words from Jasmyn Burke are plainspoken and true. Her band Weaves was my No. 1 discovery at CMJ 2015, quirky, loud and mysterious, four amazing and downright fascinating players. "One More" is the first song off their very first album. The Toronto-based band has worked on its upcoming debut for the last two years, almost as long as the musicians have been playing together.

There is new — and quite wonderful — music from Mitski. Mitski Miyawaki is an intense singer and guitar player who has been putting out albums since 2012. Yesterday she announced a new album, her fourth, which will be called Puberty 2. It's as impassioned as her previous records, but there's something warmer in it.

On this week's All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton share songs from a trio of bands on the verge of releasing breakthrough albums. Bob starts the show strong with a jaw-dropping new song from Car Seat Headrest called "Vincent," which we also featured as a First Watch.

Martin Atkins knows many of the secrets of life, especially band life. He's played in Public Image Ltd, Nine Inch Nails, Pigface, Killing Joke and more. These days, after a life of touring nightmares and general music business foolery, he writes and teaches about music in Chicago and he's distilled his knowledge of life into bits of wisdom.

There is new music from Quilt and that makes me happy. The band's third album, which is out next week on Feb. 26, is called Plaza, and its winsome, wandering electric folk thrills my late-1960s soul. The songs on Plaza, a combination of brand new material and newly invigorated older tunes, often revolve around place and family. We asked Anna Fox Rochinski (vocals/guitars), Shane Butler (vocals/guitars) and John Andrews (drums/vocals) to tell us how they were made.

It's been a good year.

"These are just the strongest melodies and the strongest ideas that occurred to me over a three to four year period, distilled."

Sometime between today and tomorrow, more than 67 million Americans in 19 states are facing blizzard or winter storm warnings. So we at the Tiny Desk had an idea.

What is the role of a white person in the struggle of black people fighting injustice? That's the question posed by Ben Haggerty, better known as Macklemore, as he puzzles out his own role as a white artist in love with hip-hop on a new song called "White Privilege II." Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released the song as a free download overnight via a website that also offers links to "supporting black led organizations," and already, conversation and controversy have begun.

After seeing exactly 662 bands in each 2013 and 2014, my concert attendance plummeted in 2015. This past year I saw only 506 bands take the stage, but I have an excuse. I wrote a book.

Have you ever watched a Tiny Desk Concert and thought, "Hey, I want to do that!?" Well, now's your chance to play behind my desk here at NPR. That's right: We're bringing NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest back for a second year.

Here's what you do.

This essay first appeared in the 2010 book This Is NPR: The First Forty Years, a collection of writing by NPR staff and contributors.

I should have cared more, but I didn't. I should have cried, but I didn't.

He meant so much to me.

But the day John Lennon died, my life and his music were never more distant.

In this installment of The Martin Atkins Minute, the professor, producer and former Public Image Ltd. drummer wonders what it means to be a rock star in a world flipped on its head. It's a world where Dunkin' Donuts is selling chicken sandwiches, Burger King is peddling glazed donuts, friendship is measured by numbers on a Facebook page and the only thing you can count on is change.

In 2009, The Dry Spells released Too Soon For Flowers, a folky rock album that became an instant best friend. Then, as far as I could tell, they vanished. But now there's new music from this Bay Area ensemble, a song called "Heliotrope," and I feel like an old buddy came to town for the holidays.

I asked about the long absence and guitarist Adria Ott wrote this back:

Bob Boilen Wrote A Book

Nov 18, 2015

I've spent the past few years talking with musicians about a song that altered the course of their life. Now those conversations are making up my first book, called Your Song Changed My Life: From Jimmy Page to St. Vincent, Smokey Robinson to Hozier, Thirty-Five Beloved Artists on Their Journey and the Music That Inspired It.

Ask a Bruce Springsteen fan about the holy grails of his concerts and you're likely to hear about a 1980 Tempe, Ariz. show. Today NPR Music has video of Springsteen performing "The River" from that very concert. The brilliant performance — or at least much of it — was recorded using four cameras and a multitrack machine for audio. It's all been put together and is being released 35 years later as part of a new box set called The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.

Brian Burton has good taste. As Danger Mouse, he's won five Grammy Awards and worked with everyone from the Black Keys to Gorillaz to Adele. Now the musician, songwriter and producer is adding another impressive project to his resume: his own record label.

I'm happy to have new music from the harmonious and ethereal band Quilt. The Boston quartet's 2014 album, Held in Splendor, is a favorite of mine. Their third album, Plaza, is coming on Feb. 26, and this first new song "Eliot St.," is a pleasant extension of the band's sound.

What is it like to sing songs almost 50 years after first writing and recording them? How does it feel to make your most creative work only to have it ignored? I wondered about these questions when I went and talked with Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, two of the original members of The Zombies. They were in town with all the surviving members of their original band to perform their long overlooked, now classic 1968 album, Odessey and Oracle in full alongside earlier hits like "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" and songs from their 2015 album Still Got The Hunger.