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.

Pages

All Songs Considered
11:51 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Do You Have A Favorite Record Label?

Marie McGrory NPR

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 8:13 pm

Read more
All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Wed May 8, 2013

First Watch: Gary Clark Jr., 'Numb'

Gary Clark Jr.
Frank Maddocks Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 12:02 pm

In the seven months since Gary Clark, Jr. released his major label debut, Blak and Blu, he's played for the President at the White House with Mick Jagger and blues legend B.B.

Read more
All Songs Considered
5:24 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Song Premiere: Sharon Jones' Explosive 'Retreat'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 5:19 pm

If this song had just the tubular bells at the top and then that Motown guitar riff, I'd have been hooked and happy. But then, along comes Sharon Jones, the brilliant, powerful soul singer, and the song explodes. "Retreat!" is the perfect marriage of singer, song and band. A lot has happened to Sharon Jones and Bushwick's brilliant professors of soul, the Dap-Kings, in the three years since they last recorded. They played the Apollo, the Hollywood Bowl, Sydney Opera House and SXSW. And they've just gotten stronger and stronger.

Read more
All Songs Considered
3:59 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

First Watch: Alpine's Mind-And-Body-Bending 'Gasoline'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 1:05 pm

A is for Alpine and it's also the name of Alpine's debut album. Alpine is a six-piece ensemble from Australia with an airy sound led by singers Phoebe Baker and Lou James. The group's album, A is for Alpine, has been out in their home since 2012, but it arrives in the U.S. on May 21.

Read more
All Songs Considered
10:03 am
Mon May 6, 2013

First Watch: The Handsome Family, 'Woodpecker'

Jason Creps, 2013 Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 12:24 pm

The Handsome Family, the wife and husband duo of Rennie Sparks (vocals, bass and banjo) and Brett Sparks (vocals, guitar and keyboards), love telling stories, and they've been doing it in song for 20 years. A new album, Wilderness, is out May 14, and "Woodpecker," a song from the album, tells a fascinating tale about Mary Sweeney, who, in the 1890's, was known as the Wisconsin Window Smasher.

Read more
All Songs Considered
2:11 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

First Watch: Femi Kuti, 'The World Is Changing'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 12:24 pm

"'The World Is Changing' is groove with a message." That quote, a pretty good summary of the music of Femi Kuti in just nine words, comes from Juan Gélas, the creative director of a new video for Kuti's new song. Femi Kuti is a saxophonist, trumpeter, keyboard player and singer and songwriter. The son of legendary afrobeat musician Fela Kuti, he carries on the tradition of mixing Nigerian beats along with jazz and a healthy dose of politics. Juan Gélas says, "Femi Kuti continues to be a leading protest artist out of modern Africa and his voice talks to us all."

Read more
All Songs Considered
2:40 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Meet Until The Ribbon Breaks: Stark Music Paired With Enigmatic Images

Until The Ribbon Breaks.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 12:25 pm

Pete Lawrie Winfield makes music as Until The Ribbon Breaks, stark music with a good deep vibe; Massive Attack or James Blake would be good touchstones. Until The Ribbon Breaks doesn't have much music out yet, but "Pressure," a new song, has urgency. "'Pressure' was written at a time of upheaval and transition for me," Winfield writes. "I was sleeping at my studio and had no idea what I was going to do next.

Read more
All Songs Considered
1:25 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Vampire Weekend On New York, Souls Of Mischief And The Secrets Of Its New Album

Vampire Weekend in New York City: (from left) Chris Tomson, Chris Baio, Rostam Batmanglij and Ezra Koenig.
Alex John Beck Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 1:22 pm

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
12:03 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Father Figures: Tiny Desk Concert

Father Figure performs a Tiny Desk Concert on February 6, 2013.
Lizzie Chen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 4:34 pm

In a small, packed Washington, D.C., living room late one December night, I heard a cacophony of horns, keys, drums and guitars that simply floored me. It was brash, zany, brainy, scary and danceable. At the end of a long year of amazing live music, this would turn out to be one of the most memorable concerts I'd seen.

Read more
All Songs Considered
5:03 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Video: Music Meets Random Imagery In Yellowbirds' 'Young Men Of Promise'

Bernie DeChant

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 12:25 pm

Music videos are like funny math, where 1+1=3. That is, images have a meaning on their own, music has a meaning when you listen to it alone, but put images and music together and something new is born. 1+1=3. Try it randomly: put on a piece of music and watch a cartoon or an old movie ... people did it famously with The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz.

Read more
All Songs Considered
11:10 am
Sat April 20, 2013

Interview: The Zombies Remember Their Odyssey

Bob Boilen, host of NPR Music's All Songs Considered, interviews Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone of The Zombies at SXSW.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 11:29 am

Read more
All Songs Considered
4:34 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

First Watch: People Get Ready, 'Middle Name'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri April 19, 2013 7:10 am

It was probably the best performance piece I've seen in more than a decade. Specific Ocean, a piece by the dance troupe/rock band People Get Ready, which I saw at the New York Live Arts theater in the fall, was a model for the ways musicians can break from the standard, sometimes boring, format of playing on a stage. Some of the songs from Specific Ocean ended up on the group's 2012 self-titled album. Now there's a video, a documentation of that amazing New York performance, featuring the song "Middle Name."

Read more
All Songs Considered
11:11 am
Fri April 12, 2013

First Watch: Iron & Wine, 'Joy'

Craig Kief Courtesy of the artist

"Deep inside the heart of this crazy mess, I'm only calm when I get lost within your wilderness."

That's a key line in this song, "Joy," by Iron and Wine, the project of Sam Beam. Sam is a songwriter who has a way of making the personal very universal. It's also the line that piqued the interest of director Hayley Morris, who made a video for "Joy." Morris writes to us:

Read more
All Songs Considered
2:33 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

First Watch: Thao And The Get Down Stay Down, 'We The Common'

This American Life's Ira Glass and John Hodgman in a video for Thao Nguyen's song "We The Common."

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 11:14 am

I first met Thao Nguyen in 2008, in the earliest days of the Tiny Desk Concert series. I was a big fan of her witty, catchy songs. After she finished playing the Tiny Desk, Thao said something that has endeared me to her forever. Walking toward the elevators on her way out of NPR, she said, "That was intimate and awkward ... a lot like my last boyfriend!"

Read more
All Songs Considered
10:41 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Special Delivery: The Postal Service Story

Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard discuss the unexpected success of The Postal Service.
Courtesy of the artist

The Postal Service was a band for a generation — the soundtrack to romance, tears and friendship. More than a million people bought its first album, 2003's Give Up, then waited anxiously for a follow-up that never arrived.

Read more
All Songs Considered
3:22 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

First Watch: Lord Huron, 'Lonesome Dreams'

Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Sat April 6, 2013 4:44 pm

Think of Lord Huron as an imaginary world as much as a rock band. Bandleader Ben Schneider has created characters and stories that fit together within an entire narrative filled with mystique. It's a bit dreamlike. To get an idea of how many layers there are in Schneider's invention, look at this website for author George Ranger Johnson. According to the site, George Ranger Johnson lives in Tuscon, Ariz. and writes adventure novels whose titles are identical to the song titles of the band Lord Huron.

Read more
All Songs Considered
11:27 am
Mon April 1, 2013

How To Never Miss Another Concert

Don't miss Merchandise in your town ever again.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 8, 2013 11:11 am

I love live music. But figuring out who's coming to town and when and where isn't so easy. I could go to every club's website to compile a list of upcoming shows, but that'd be cumbersome. Newspaper listing are often incomplete, don't look ahead and certainly don't filter or highlight who's in town based on my musical tastes.

Read more
All Songs Considered
11:47 am
Fri March 29, 2013

First Watch: Efterklang, "The Ghost"

Courtesy of Efterklang

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 12:13 pm

"The video has a puzzle structure: the whole story progressively makes sense to the viewer as minutes go by."

Read more
All Songs Considered
10:13 am
Fri March 22, 2013

New Sigur Rós, New Direction? Watch The Video For 'Brennisteinn'

Lygia Clark's cover art for Sigur Rós' forthcoming album, Kveikur.
Lygia Clark Courtesy of the artist

This is the most exciting new Sigur Rós song I've heard in a long time, and I love the band's music. "Brennisteinn" (sulfur) is a remarkably aggressive piece of music for musicians who can sound so ethereal: Dreamy elements remain, but they provide an underpinning rather than driving the pulse of the song.

Read more
All Songs Considered
2:13 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Song Premiere: Paperhaus, "Helicopters"

Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 2:42 pm

The musicians in Paperhaus live in my hometown of Washington, D.C., so I've seen this dynamic band more than a few times. In fact, they put on some of the best house concerts in the city, over a hundred of them at their own venue, also called the Paperhaus, so I've seen them both in clubs and their intimate living room.

Read more
All Songs Considered
5:39 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Bob Boilen's 15 Essential Moments From SXSW 2013

Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 11:20 am

Unlike any other festival, South by Southwest is unique to everyone who attends. And I love that about this festival. With over 2,200 bands spread out over 100 venues and five days of music, everyone sees something different and walks away with different joys and discoveries. You could go to a Brooklyn Vegan showcase and spend the whole day in one place. You could search out only Latino bands, or metal bands, hip hop or blues. In fact, when the All Songs crew gathers to record our late night dispatches on the streets of Austin, Texas, we all share completely different joys.

Read more
All Songs Considered
11:03 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

David Bowie's New Song Is...

Cover art for David Bowie's single, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 7:49 am

There's another new song from David Bowie and it's called "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)." This is the second Bowie song in the past few months after a dry spell that lasted ten years. You can hear the song and watch the video, which contains some nudity.

Read more
All Songs Considered
1:28 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

A Dance Video Inspired By An Encounter With An Oddball

Courtesy of the Artist

I first saw Cat Martino at the best concert of my life. It was the summer of 2011 and Sufjan Stevens was performing at Celebrate Brooklyn. But within the spectacle -– a troupe of maybe a dozen performers on stage — was a singer and dancer named Cat Martino. I know that because a number of my friends at the show knew Cat and were screaming her name at the top of their lungs.

Read more
All Songs Considered
9:10 am
Wed February 20, 2013

NPR Music Presents: Josh Ritter Live From New York City

Josh Ritter.
Courtesy of the aritst

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 7:24 pm

NPR Music will present and webcast a "First Listen Live" concert from Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band on Monday, March 4, beginning at 8 p.m. ET in the intimate New York City venue (Le) Poisson Rouge. Josh Ritter and his band will play most of his new album, The Beast in Its Tracks.

Read more
All Songs Considered
3:29 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

The Real Instrument Behind The Sound In 'Good Vibrations'

Cover art for the "Good Vibrations" single, released in 1966.
Courtesy of the artist

Read more
All Songs Considered
11:31 am
Sun February 3, 2013

After 22 Years, Is It Worth The Wait? Listen To My Bloody Valentine's 'm b v'

My Bloody Valentine's first album in 22 years is titled m b v.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 12:22 pm

Read more
All Songs Considered
12:43 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Wanna Make An Album? Start Right Now!

The author, up for the "Challenge."
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 2:04 pm

I love a deadline and every February I get one. Thanks to The Wire, a small New Hampshire magazine that started the tradition in 2006, I make an album every year. They call it the RPM Challenge, and the challenge is this: write and record an album in the time between the first and last days of February. To qualify as an album, it just needs to be 10 songs or 35 minutes of music.

Read more
All Songs Considered
2:58 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Listen: Thom Yorke And Friends Talk Atoms For Peace

Thom Yorke of Atoms For Peace. Not pictured from the band: Nigel Godrich, Flea, Mauro Refosco and Joey Waronker.
Eliot Lee Hazel

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 10:20 am

Read more
All Songs Considered
11:25 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Why I've Never Liked Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 6:45 pm

It has happened over and over again in the past few years. Someone in their 20s tells me how much they love Fleetwood Mac, and in particular its monster-selling album Rumours. My reaction is always the same. Their reaction is invariably deep surprise. I could never stand that record.

Read more
All Songs Considered
1:01 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Watch The 1950s Get Its Mind Blown

YouTube

Originally published on Sun January 27, 2013 9:16 pm

I saw this video and was mesmerized. The music is by Bonobo and the video by Cyriak. The song is called "Cirrus."

Read more

Pages