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.

Boilen's first book, Your Song Changed My Life, was published in April 2016 by HarperCollins.

On Dec. 4, just before Bon Iver took the stage at Pioneer Works, an old ironworks warehouse turned nonprofit arts and culture space, these prophetic words from Union Army officer Sullivan Ballou echoed off the Civil War-era brick walls:

"Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield."

So the other day Martin Atkins sent me an audio file that made me smile. It's called Bad Day, and it's sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

Martin, a funny guy driven by a kind heart, used to be the drummer for Public Image Ltd. This is the story of how he quit that band — even though they had a big hit with "This Is Not A Love Song" — and wound up digging ditches for Bon Jovi's drummer in New Jersey.

It seemed only fitting for us to have a nine-piece, family-centered band come back to the Tiny Desk to help us celebrate the holidays in 2016. Maggie and Tyler Heath head up The Oh Hellos vocally, but this band — which played a non-holiday show at the desk just a year ago — feels very much like an extended family, in terms of both camaraderie and harmonies.

There's a confessional quality to the songs of Pinegrove that feels reassuring. The problems that swirl around Evan Stephens Hall's head feel universal, so it's comforting in "Old Friends" when he sings, "I should call my parents when I think of them / I should tell my friends when I love them."

Today's All Songs +1 podcast is a conversation with The Antlers' Peter Silberman on how hearing loss would eventually lead him to create his first solo album.

The bowed electric guitar droned as Thao & The Get Down Stay Down revved up a mighty sound. This set, recorded live this past August as part of the Lincoln Center Out Of Doors series in New York's Damrosch Park, was the fiercest set I've seen from this San Francisco group. Singer Thao Nguyen has been a bandleader for the past dozen years or so, and these three songs — from Thao & The Get Down Stay Down's fourth studio album, A Man Alive — more than capture her quirkiness and angular power.

The first song the artist Cat Stevens released back in 1966 was titled, "I Love My Dog." He'd be the first to admit that it's a strange title, and subject, for someone nicknamed Cat. Now, 50 years later Yusuf / Cat Stevens has done a unique remake of this song; a direct-to-acetate recording at Jack White's renowned Third Man Records Blue Room. The single will also include Cat Stevens second U.K.

Bob Boilen and I, along with the rest of the NPR Music team, have been prepping for our year-end coverage by listening to hundreds of songs and albums in one big shared playlist. Along the way, we've all discovered stuff we hadn't heard before — and even fallen in love with some of it.

I wasn't alone in patiently waiting for new music from John Paul White. His singing and songwriting as half of The Civil Wars was heartfelt and beautiful. This summer, a new album finally came, and Beulah was a quietly understated gem. This is tender Southern music without drawl or pretense, and I love it.

Adam Torres' voice makes Pearls To Swine a constant listen for me. It's high and lonesome, but more frail than the voices of the bluegrass pioneers who defined that sound, like Ralph Stanley. Besides, Torres isn't a country singer or a folksinger so much as an atmospheric storyteller.

On May 3, 1972 I saw the most amazing show of my life. It was a few years post-Woodstock, we'd lost Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, and you could feel this special generational music, sounds that brought together a culture, going commercial. There were syrupy bands like America, "soft-rock" was a thing, and your mom and dad could actually like what you heard.

The xx is back with new music, and it feels like this wonderfully languid band may have just received a shot of adrenaline.

This week a gigantic Pink Floyd box set is released. What's remarkable about Pink Floyd Early Years 1965-1972 is that its 27 discs cover only the band's first seven years! All this week we'll think pink with some of the people who were there. On Friday — the day this collection is released — we'll talk with drummer Nick Mason about those early years. On Tuesday we talk to Roger Waters about his upcoming projects and politics.

Imagine being a singer — in this case, a singer of traditional British folk songs and murder ballads, songs of love, hate, revenge, redemption and tragedy. And as the singer of these songs, you get pretty well known in the circles of folk music in the 1960s and 1970s.

Now, imagine a broken heart robs you of your ability to sing. For 38 years, your voice — once beautiful — falls silent.

This is the story of the great Shirley Collins.

Among the hundred or so bands I saw at SXSW this year, Julia Jacklin's stark, spare voice was memorable. Her debut album is is a lovely listen — no frills. It's the final song on the record that turned out to be a favorite for me, with just the Australian singer and her electric guitar. That song, "Don't Let The Kids Win," turned out to be the last one she wrote for the album, and it's also the title track.

I first saw Aurora in a small club in New York City three years ago. She was just 17 years old, but her performance was mesmerizing. Her frail, blonde figure mirrored her enchanting voice and words. The young singer from Norway put out a dramatic and beautiful record earlier this year called All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend.

My first experience seeing Joseph was in 2014 as an opening act in New York City. It was just the twins Meegan and Allison Closner and their older sister, Natalie Closner, and it was clear then they had something special. Over these two years, Joseph's sound has grown beyond the Closners' harmonies. Now, you're likely to see them with a band or hear songs from their latest record, which is filled with sounds far beyond voice and acoustic guitar.

In this week's All Songs Considered, we feature three solo projects by some of our favorite bandleaders, a solo artist's duets record, and new music from some familiar faces, or more accurately put, some familiar Lips. The Flaming Lips are back with a new album, Oczy Młody, inspired by a Polish book that Wayne Coyne owns and finds phonetically fascinating (even if he doesn't understand any of the words). We've also got Run the Jewels, a duo that's all about the words and whose new single speaks to urgent issues of race relations.

My adoration for Bellows continues. In 2014 Blue Breath became one of my top albums of the year.

Ruminations is one of Conor Oberst's most personal records — and it was a surprise, even for its creator. He didn't intend to make an album — he was trying to recover from exhaustion after he was rattled by a health scare, a cyst on his brain. But when he left New York, N.Y., and moved back to his hometown of Omaha, Neb., the songs started coming. He recorded Ruminations on piano, guitar and harmonica in 48 hours during the winter after he moved home.

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