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.

Longtime NPR fans may remember another contribution Boilen made to NPR. He composed the original theme music for NPR's Talk of the Nation.


Tiny Desk Concerts
10:25 am
Thu May 10, 2012

Kishi Bashi: Tiny Desk Concert

Emily Bogle/NPR

My favorite Tiny Desk Concert moments come when the NPR staff gathers around the desk for an artist they've never heard and walk away wanting more. I wasn't surprised to see that happen with Kishi Bashi — he is, after all, the one musician out of the 1,300 songs or so we previewed for All Songs Considered that we all agreed was a must-see at SXSW. He didn't disappoint.

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All Songs Considered Blog
5:08 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

After 25 Years, Revisiting Paul Simon's Controversial 'Graceland'

Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 5:16 pm

I remember so clearly when Paul Simon headed to South Africa. His trip there was controversial in the midst of growing boycotts surrounding apartheid. I imagined with odd certainty that somehow Paul Simon would be killed. I spent the better part of a weekend listening to his music, sad and scared. Fortunately, nothing happened — only my love for his music became stronger.

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All Songs Considered Blog
10:22 am
Tue May 8, 2012

The Magnetic Fields Release Second Single And New Video

The Magnetic Fields video 'Quick!'
Magnetic Fields

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 5:12 pm

The second video from The Magnetic Fields 2012 album Love at the Bottom of the Sea is called 'Quick!' It's, of course, about love — in this case the tangling, strangling end to a love.

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All Songs Considered Blog
9:21 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Old Music Tuesday: Queen

Freddie Merucury, performing live with Queen, circa 1970.
Michael Ochs Archives

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 9:50 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:50 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Nathan Salsburg: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 3:26 pm

Here's what's surprising about guitarist Nathan Salsburg: He writes passionate instrumental tales about racehorses and turns them into accessibly eclectic tunes. With a brilliant debut album (Affirmed) full of intricate and melodic fingerpicking, Salsburg is likely to become one of those names we all associate with American folk guitar.

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All Songs Considered Blog
9:26 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Hey, This Building's Moving — We Need A Soundtrack

I like to gaze out the window, but these days I'm not alone. What's got many of us staring out the back window of NPR's D.C. office is some serious construction work. Across the street, a construction crew has literally been picking up buildings, putting them on wheels and moving them to the end of the lot. They moved the last of five buildings yesterday. I time-lapsed this one, partly because it has some lore for us at NPR. It was part of a prostitution bust a few years back that also had us staring out the window.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Cowboy Junkies: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 9:18 am

Make a list of bands with integrity, still highly respected and still making music after 25 years, and that list will have Cowboy Junkies near the top. More active than ever, the group has released four new studio records in the past two years — an insane achievement. A prolific nature doesn't define greatness, of course, but these past few years have produced some of the best music Cowboy Junkies' members have ever made.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:00 am
Wed April 25, 2012

Jolie Holland: Tiny Desk Concert

Mallory Benedict NPR

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 12:56 pm

It'll take just a few seconds to find out if you're likely to fall in love with Jolie Holland. That's what happened to me about eight years ago: Holland was a founding member of The Be Good Tanyas, and I've been listening faithfully to the Texas-born, Brooklyn-based singer ever since.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:38 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Milagres: Tiny Desk Concert

Emilly Bogle/NPR

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 9:40 am

The big sound of Milagres is built from small, simple elements: the boom of the kick drum, the clack of the claves, the repetitive tap-tap-tapping of a piano. This is a band of selective minimalism — which, in the end, somehow gets me thinking about the big sounds Phil Spector made. It's all about attention to detail, and Milagres is a band that cares.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
11:16 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Bill Frisell: Tiny Desk Concert

Mallory Benedict/NPR

Originally published on Wed February 8, 2012 10:19 am

It was early, maybe half an hour before Bill Frisell was set to arrive for his Tiny Desk Concert. Already, a crowd here at NPR was buzzing around, waiting to hear Frisell make his magic and watching him set up an array of pedals. I've never seen anyone play guitar the way Frisell plays: What I hear is a man on a mission of discovery, where one chord, one note, one effect can send him in unplanned, uncharted directions.

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