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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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:34 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill: Tiny Desk Concert

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 25, 2013.
Gabriella Demczuk NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:37 pm

You're about to watch one of the best fiddlers on the planet and a subtle guitar master work their magic. For too many of us, Irish music is something that merely gets trotted out around this time of year, associated with St. Patrick's Day and the coming of spring — and made a cliche by commercialism and whatever other shallow notions make cliches what they are.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:01 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

The Lone Bellow: Tiny Desk Concert

The Lone Bellow performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 20, 2013.
Lizzie Chen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:37 pm

After hearing The Lone Bellow's self-titled debut, I couldn't wait to play it for friends and on All Songs Considered — I knew people would love it. Still, honestly, I was unprepared for the stunning power of the band's live show. When you see this Tiny Desk Concert, I'm sure you'll experience the same sensation I did. The Lone Bellow features three brilliant players, with Zach Williams singing every word as if it's the last time he'll ever get the chance.

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All Songs Considered
12:01 pm
Tue February 26, 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 8:49 am

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All Songs Considered
12:04 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

A Dance Video Inspired By An Encounter With An Oddball

Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 2:28 pm

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.

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All Songs Considered
12:08 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

The Real Instrument Behind The Sound In 'Good Vibrations'

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

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 4:29 pm

  • Hear how 'Good Vibrations' was created

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All Songs Considered
9:02 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Inspired By Filmmaker Kenneth Anger: First Watch By Lady Lazarus

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 9:22 am

The music is languid and surreal; the images are hypnotic and poetic. Melissa Ann Sweat, a.k.a. Lady Lazarus, has a video for her new song "Lapsarian." Sweat, who collaborated on the project with director June Zandona, tells us that she was inspired by an experimental short film by Kenneth Anger called Puce Moment.

"I wanted to evoke its odd elegance, femininity and weird cloistered central figure," Sweat writes of the first track off her new album, All My Love in Half Light.

Sweat continues:

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All Songs Considered
10:30 pm
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 1:22 pm

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All Songs Considered
4:32 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 3:04 pm

  • Hear a song sung by Bob Boilen for the RPM Challege a few years ago

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.

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All Songs Considered
10:20 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Thom Yorke And Friends On Making Music As 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 11:20 am

  • Listen: Thom Yorke on 'Amok'

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All Songs Considered
10:18 am
Wed January 30, 2013

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

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 7:45 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.

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