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 Blog
2:20 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Watch A Gorgeous New Animated Video For Wilco's 'Sunloathe'

'Sunloathe' from Wilco, with illustrations by Nathaniel Murphy
Nathaniel Murphy youtube

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 9:08 am

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All Songs Considered Blog
3:30 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Song Premiere: BRAINSTORM, 'Flat Earth'

Jaclyn Campanaro Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 6:20 pm

I'm a sucker for a stuttered guitar sound. It's a sound I came to love listening to Fela Kuti and other African greats in the '70s and '80s. American rockers often tend to crank their gritty guitars to 10 — they get loud and gritty about two and a half minutes into the tune. But it's that sweeter, stuttered sound that grabs me right away; you can hear it these days in bands like Fool's Gold or Vampire Weekend.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:40 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Rufus Wainwright: Tiny Desk Concert

Rufus Wainwright performs a Tiny Desk Concert, at the NPR Music offices on July 24, 2012.
Claire O'Neill NPR

Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 3:21 pm

We'd never tried to squeeze a piano behind the Tiny Desk, but when I saw a chance to have Rufus Wainwright play here, I wouldn't — and he probably wouldn't — have had it any other way. Somehow, we managed to fit a glossy black Yamaha upright against my full bookshelves. Then we tuned it and waited for some glorious moments.

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All Songs Considered Blog
4:03 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

First Watch: Aimee Mann, 'Charmer'

Sheryl Nields Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 6:38 pm

Aimee Mann's eighth studio record, Charmer, comes out in a month. Charmer is also the title — and subject — of the album's first video, which features a robot double of Mann played by three-time Academy Award-nominated actress Laura Linney of The Truman Show, The Squid and the Whale and The Big C.

The video, directed by Tom Scharpling, deals lightheartedly with the idea of fame and persona with Mann playing herself and Linney playing her robot double.

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All Songs Considered Blog
9:52 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Jens Lekman's Charming New Video, 'I Know What Love Isn't'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 6:39 pm

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All Songs Considered Blog
3:30 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Song Premiere: Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra, 'The Killing Type'

Shervin Lainez Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 6:40 pm

I'm trying to imagine Amanda Palmer, in Amsterdam, working on this show-stopping rocker on a ukulele. But she did, and she'll tell you the tale below. This song is from the about-to-be-released album Theatre Is Evil, billed as Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra. The record was produced by John Congleton and is out on September 11.

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All Songs Considered Blog
10:39 am
Wed August 8, 2012

First Watch: Wolf Larsen, 'If I Be Wrong'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 3:14 pm

Wolf Larsen's life is a complicated mix of mysterious and nearly debilitating health issues and desire to dig deep in art for meaning and hope. Wolf Larsen is the stage name (and pen name) of the singer and writer Sarah Ramey. In 2008, Ramey served as the personal blogger for Obama's presidential campaign and is currently writing a book — The Lady's Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness — due out in 2013 under her own name. Her new record as Wolf Larsen, Quiet at the Kitchen Door, is a bedroom recording, a project that began as a way to deal with her illness and solitude.

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All Songs Considered Blog
12:46 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Song Premiere: Black Prairie, 'How Do You Ruin Me'

Jason Quigley Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 2:07 pm

Let's start with the familiar. Three fifths of the band Black Prairie are members of The Decemberists. The band's new album is produced by one of music's finest producers, Tucker Martine. And it gets better. In addition to The Decemberists' Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee and Nate Query, Black Prairie also includes Annalisa Tornfelt (violin and voice) and John Neufeld (guitar), both very talented players.

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