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
12:07 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Sole Of A Band, May 22

To what musician do these sparkly boots belong?
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 12:31 pm

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
2:03 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Jack White's 'Lazaretto': The All Songs Interview

Mary Ellen Matthews Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 10:29 am

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All Songs Considered
9:02 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Hear A Song From 'Fuego,' The First New Phish Album In 5 Years

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 10:55 am

It's been almost five years since Phish had a new album of songs. Today, we're happy to announce that Fuego, the band's twelfth studio album, will be out on June 24. That's the album cover above. The album's ten songs were premiered live by the band on Halloween 2013 in Atlantic City, N.J.

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All Songs Considered
9:03 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Bob Dylan Covers A Classic Tune

Courtesy of the artist

A new Bob Dylan recording popped up on his site just now. You have to go there to hear it — it's a version of the classic 1945 song, "Full Moon and Empty Arms." The tune is written by Buddy Kaye — known for writing hits for Sinatra, Ella and Elvis — and Ted Mossman, and based on Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2.

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Sat May 10, 2014

Bob's Rainbows: May 10, 2014

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. as part of the birthday celebration for Big Tony of Trouble Funk.
Kyle Gustafson Washington Post/Getty images

Originally published on Sat May 10, 2014 9:55 am

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All Songs Considered
8:02 am
Sat May 3, 2014

Bob's Rainbows: May 3, 2014

Future Islands at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC.
Photo by Zac Visco for NPR NPR

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All Songs Considered
8:11 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

Young Fathers at U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C.
Bob Boilen NPR

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All Songs Considered
9:33 am
Thu April 24, 2014

The Sole Of A Band, April 24

To what musician do these very fashionable shoes belong?
Rich Fury

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
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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