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
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

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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

  • 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
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

  • Listen: Thom Yorke on 'Amok'

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All Songs Considered
8:03 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Song Premiere: The Besnard Lakes, 'People Of The Sticks'

Photographer: Richmond Lam

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 9:26 am

The Besnard Lakes have a new album coming out in April, and after hearing the song "People Of The Sticks," it's safe to say we're in for another soaringly gorgeous record from the Canadian rock group.

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Live in Concert
12:11 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

David Byrne & St. Vincent In Concert

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 7:39 am

Last year's collaboration between St. Vincent (Annie Clarke) and David Bryne was surprising on many levels. The album they wrote and recorded together, Love This Giant, is inspired and artful, if not as immediately accessible as some of the solo work each of them has made in the past. On stage, performed live at the Strathmore music hall in Bethesda, MD, the songs found their heart and soul.

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All Songs Considered
6:53 am
Tue January 8, 2013

There's A Brand New David Bowie Song

David Bowie's 30th studio album, The Next Day, will come out on March 12.
Jimmy King Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 7:36 am

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Best Music Of 2012
12:25 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Bob Boilen's 243 Favorite Concerts Of 2012

INTERACTIVE: BOB BOILEN'S WRISTBANDS 2012 - Wristbands, ticket stubs and badges from a few of the hundreds of shows Bob Boilen saw in 2012.
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 7:43 am

What a brilliant year for live music 2012 was. And I saw an awful lot of it: 462 performances, by my count. I know that sounds insane — more concerts than days in a year. Many of those were full concerts, but sometimes at music festivals I'd run from club to club or stage to stage just to catch a song or two. It's all part of a quest to find new music and hear new talent. Even a short taste helps me know whether I need to pay attention to a burgeoning band or whether a classic act seems to give a damn anymore.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:16 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Alt-J: Tiny Desk Concert

Alt-J Tiny Desk Performance NPR 2012
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 4:47 pm

There's mystery in the music of Alt-J: The band's songs are wrapped in enigmatic textures, with swift shifts in arrangements inside every song and an oddness to the drums. Mere glimpses of lyrics are discernible, even after listening over and over — and if you can decipher the words, the meanings don't necessarily follow immediately. Still, those words reside at the core of Alt-J, and they're cinematic and stunning and sometimes brutal.

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All Songs Considered
1:48 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

First Watch: Mercury Prize Winners Villagers Are Back

Villagers
Rich Gilligan Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 10:39 am

Villagers is the music of Conor O'Brien, a 2010 Mercury Prize finalist for his debut album, Becoming a Jackal. Now there's new music from Villagers, from a record called {Awayland}. That music comes out first in Europe on Jan. 14 — here in the U.S., we'll have to wait until April 9. We have this new song and video from Villagers, for the song "Nothing Arrived."

Conor O'Brien writes:

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All Songs Considered
7:58 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Question Of The Week: Should The Rolling Stones Hang It Up?

The Rolling Stones perform at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Dec. 8.
Don Emmert AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 6:25 pm

After seeing The Rolling Stones in concert over the weekend, I can confidently say the short answer is "no."

We need to be thinking about age and rock music in a different way. When I was in my 20s, my generation thought 30 was too old for a rocker. Now, in 2012, the brilliant futurist Ray Kurzweil is wondering who the first person to be 150 will be. He told a crowd at the 6th and I Synagogue in Washington, D.C., that he thinks that person is alive today.

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