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
9:14 am
Sat April 19, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

You sent us your soles!
Various for NPR

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All Songs Considered
2:24 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Photos Needed: We Want Your Sole

We Want Your Sole!
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 8:34 am

Our new puzzler "Sole Of A Band" mixes music with fashion by asking you to match music with a picture of an artist's shoes. I started the puzzler because I noticed that so often I could tell something about the music a person was playing by the shoes I saw them wearing.

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All Songs Considered
7:25 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Song Premiere: José James, 'EveryLittleThing'

Singer José James
Blue Note Records

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 8:31 am

Singer José James has a new album coming out on June 10 and you can tell from this song, "EveryLittleThing," the new record, While You Were Sleeping, is an electrifying new sound. He made a similar shift in style on a record well loved here at NPR in 2013, No Beginning No End. That record saw James shift his jazzy voice toward hip-hop.

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Sat April 12, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

Kraftwerk at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. The band continues to break new ground in concert visuals.
Bob Boilen NPR

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All Songs Considered
12:27 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

NPR Music Nominated For Three Webby Awards

OK Go helped us us move our office across town. You can help us win a Webby for the video we shot.
Lizzie Chen NPR

NPR Music has been nominated for many Webby Awards over the years (and even won a few), but we've rarely reached out and asked you to vote for us when we are. This year, the Webbys' eighteenth, we're particularly proud of our nominations.

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All Songs Considered
1:26 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

The Sole Of A Band, April 9

Bob Boilen NPR

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
5:03 am
Thu April 3, 2014

The Sole Of A Band, April 3

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 10:36 am

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
1:12 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Question Of The Week: Which Recent Album Will Hold Up The Best?

James Blake has a sound that draws on the past, but also points to the future. His most recent album is called Overgrown.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 5:04 pm

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All Songs Considered
9:23 am
Sat March 29, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

Colin Stetson at Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage.
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Sat March 29, 2014 12:10 pm

Every week I hear something amazing, see something inspiring and want to pass it on. These events are sometimes fleeting, sometimes iconic, but they stop me in my tracks. Bob's Rainbows is the place where I'll highlight the very best of my weekly music intake. [Editor's note: Why rainbows? They're the only naturally occurring phenomenon that can make Bob take his headphones off.]

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All Songs Considered
10:03 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Neil Young Wants You To Truly Hear Music

Neil Young in conversation with NPR's Bob Boilen.
A.J. Wilhelm for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:47 am

Neil Young wants you to truly hear the music you listen to. Over the years, the trend in audio has prioritized convenience over quality. Last week at SXSW, I had a conversation with Neil Young about an idea he has to change that trend. In this interview, he talks about Pono, the new audio player he's been helping develop. Just before the interview, I spent time listening to Pono. It's impressive.

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All Songs Considered
10:44 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Hear Neil Young Explain His Pono Music Player At SXSW

Neil Young speaks about Pono, his new high-quality digital audio system, at SXSW.
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 6:46 am

Neil Young wants to start a revolution against the MP3, against the CD, poorly made vinyl and poor audio quality in general. He wants people to hear the music the way it was made.

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All Songs Considered
11:06 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

St. Vincent at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C.
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 2:19 pm

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

goats standing on things

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

San Fermin at Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 12:57 pm

Every week I hear something amazing, see something inspiring and want to pass it on. These events are sometimes fleeting, sometimes iconic, but they stop me in my tracks. Bob's Rainbows is the place where I'll highlight the very best of my weekly music intake. [Editor's note: Why rainbows? They're the only naturally occurring phenomenon that can make Bob take his headphones off.]

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All Songs Considered
10:04 am
Wed February 12, 2014

The Moth & The Flame, 'Winsome'

Watch 'Winsome' by The Moth
Courtesy of the band

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 9:15 am

If you try to watch this video for its plot, good luck. There's a mermaid, a sandstorm, a dude, a chase, sea creatures, close-up lips ... I tried, but gave up and simply gave in to the flow of the song and the images.

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All Songs Considered
7:02 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

James Mercer of Broken Bells performs The Beatles' "And I Love Her" with backing from a looped video of Ringo Starr on The Late Show With David Letterman.
YouTube

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 10:37 am

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All Songs Considered
10:53 am
Thu February 6, 2014

The Civil Wars Cover Elliott Smith

John Paul White (left) and Joy Williams of The Civil Wars.
Allister Ann Courtesy of the artist

If you remembered that John Paul White and Joy Williams had announced they were taking a hiatus last year, the news of a new digital EP from The Civil Wars might make you scratch your head. But this cover of Elliott Smith's "Between the Bars," which lends its name to the EP, was actually recorded a while back with producers Rick Rubin and Charlie Peacock.

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All Songs Considered
9:12 am
Wed February 5, 2014

First Watch: Deleted Scenes, 'Stutter'

Dustin Diamond plays a struggling actor in the new video for the Deleted Scenes song, "Stutter."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 12:28 pm

The sound of Deleted Scenes, a D.C.-based quartet formed in 2005, is potent, angular and distinct. The lyrics of Dan Scheuerman, who sings and plays guitar, can be simultaneously poetic and direct. The best part of Deleted Scenes is the unexpected, the unpredictable, and "Stutter" is a perfect example of their hard-to-label style. It mixes grating vocals with sporadic bursts of guitar, those abrasive sounds morphing into a likable, memorable track.

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All Songs Considered
3:31 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Question Of The Week: Can You Imagine A World Without Music Genres?

Bombay Royale, performing at GlobalFEST 2014.
Ebru Yildiz/NPR

I've just spent the weekend at Winter Jazzfest and GlobalFEST in New York City. These are two of the biggest annual festivals of their kind, featuring several thrilling, packed days of music, with live performances that run late into the night.

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All Songs Considered
3:05 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Bob Boilen's 116 Favorite Concerts Of 2013

Ally Newbold Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 7:07 am

I didn't watch any TV shows in 2013. I only saw one movie that I can remember. But I saw over 662 shows in 2013, 549 bands in 139 clubs in 21 cities. It was a perfect year.

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Bob Boilen's Favorite Lyrics Of 2013

Piper Ferguson Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 10:32 am

I'm a lyrics guy. Great words drive me to a song. Bad lyrics drive me away. As a lyrics guy, I find that my favorite songs often also have my favorite words. I love a good melody and a beat, but I love it more when those elements support a good story, an insight, an emotional outpouring, something I can connect to.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
6:03 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Tiny Desk Concert

Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the Tiny Desk on Dec. 3, 2013.
John W. Poole John W. Poole

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 3:14 pm

Our goal for this special holiday Tiny Desk Concert is simple: to bring you joy. Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a hot and historic outfit from New Orleans, and its members brought us a tuba-wielding Santa and some original holiday cheer and praise — what they call a Cajun Christmas from the French Quarter.

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All Songs Considered
10:13 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Pixies, 'What Goes Boom'

World premiere video for a brand new Pixies song, "What Goes Boom."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 2:13 pm

It's been several months since longtime Pixies bassist Kim Deal left the band, and the remaining members are still figuring out how to play together. But the group's new sound seems to coalesce on its latest single and video, "What Goes Boom."

"Since the reunion, there are sounds that I've been coming up with," guitarist Joey Santiago tells us via email. "And a lot of them just got condensed into this one song, with me going sh*thouse on guitar."

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Flume And Chet Faker, 'Drop The Game'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 8:18 am

Nicholas Murphy chose his moniker to honor Chet Baker, the American jazz musician known both as a trumpeter and a fragile, intimate singer. The Australian electronic musician, producer and rising soul singer — a.k.a. Chet Faker — has teamed up with his countryman Flume, the 22-year-old electronic producer. Together, they're releasing this fabulous track, "Drop the Game." This isn't their first collaboration: Flume and Chet Faker worked on Flume's self-titled record, and that record is up for an Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) award.

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All Songs Considered
10:57 am
Fri November 15, 2013

First Watch: Marian McLaughlin, 'Before You Leave'

Courtesy of the artist

I've never seen anyone play guitar quite the way Marian McLaughlin does, or sing the patterns she sings. After catching her live a few years ago, I thought this could either be someone naively noodling or deliberately taking an adventure. I've come to the conclusion it's a bit of both. You can see and hear how McLaughlin pulls this off in a new video for her song "Before You Leave."

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All Songs Considered
6:04 am
Tue November 12, 2013

New Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks Song

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 12:18 pm

There's a new song from Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, and a new album coming Jan. 7, 2014. The record will be called Wig Out At Jagbags, and the new song is called "Lariat."

The former Pavement singer and guitar player says the album was influenced by a move to Germany and an odd assortment of other things, from the NBA to laziness.

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All Songs Considered
12:01 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Question Of The Week: Do You Collect Setlists?

A remarkably illustrated setlist for musician Dan Wilson.
Anonymous Reader

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 1:33 pm

Earlier this week we asked you to submit photos of the setlists you've collected over the years. We got a lot of amazing pics. Some, such as the Elliott Smith setlist from 1999, felt like rare treasures. We've added some of our favorites to the gallery below. Click the info icon or mouse over the images for captions and explanations for each one.

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All Songs Considered
10:23 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Butch Walker, 'Coming Home'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 6:58 am

"I really wanted to stay away from anything too literal in favor of something bigger, more fantastical and ethereal." And with that concept, director Olivier Agostini completely drew me into a sweet story while turning me on to Butch Walker's new video for the song "Coming Home."

Butch Walker was a guitarist in a glam metal band (SouthGang), a singer and guitarist with Marvelous 3, and later-turned-producer for Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, and Pink. Go figure. He's also been making his own songs, and his latest is "Coming Home" from the EP Peachtree Battle.

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All Songs Considered
9:36 am
Fri November 8, 2013

The Five Best Things About This Year's Mountain Oasis Festival

A crush of fans dance together at a Bassnectar performance, from the 2013 Mountain Oasis festival.
Adam Kissick NPR Music

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 11:07 am

Late last month I witnessed the most creative music festival I know, and I'm back with some astonishing new music discoveries. The first annual Mountain Oasis festival took place in a number of venues in Asheville, N.C. the weekend before Halloween. Asheville's a city that, much like Austin, Texas or Portland, Ore., lives up to that often-used slogan "Keep (insert city name here) Weird." As music pours into the streets, you'll see people dressed up as gnomes in illuminated hats, traveling in packs along with jellyfish, various monsters or even giant butterflies.

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All Songs Considered
10:28 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Broken Bells Shares New Song, Accidentally Channels Bee Gees

Broken Bells — James Mercer (left) and Brian Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse) — are back with a new album. After The Disco is due out in January.
James Minchin

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 8:38 am

There's soon to be a new album from Broken Bells — the duo of James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) — and you're about to find out how it all came together.

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