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.

Music
9:08 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Song Premiere: Bon Iver Writes A Tune For Zach Braff

The soundtrack album art for the film "Wish I Was Here"
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 4:51 pm

Read more
Music
5:25 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Jack White's 'Lazaretto': The All Songs Interview

Mary Ellen Matthews Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 12:29 pm

  • Listen To Jack White On All Songs

Read more
First Listen
11:29 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

First Listen: Saintseneca, 'Dark Arc'

Saintseneca's new album, Dark Arc, comes out April 1.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 2:19 pm

Banjo, baglama, bulbul, balalaika, bowed banjo, baritone ukulele, banjo, bass, bouzouki... Saintseneca might pick up any of these instruments at any given moment, and those are just the ones that start with the letter B. The band has its origins and heart in a small Appalachian town in Ohio, as well as a passion for sounds and textures with acoustic instruments at their core. Saintseneca's members eventually settled in Columbus, and they like their acoustic music a bit punkish, with stomping feet as a heartbeat to accompany mind-altering words and music.

Read more
Music
5:05 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Do You Have A Favorite Record Label?

Marie McGrory NPR

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 10:13 pm

Read more
Music
11:14 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Bob Boilen's 15 Essential Moments From SXSW 2013

Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 1:20 pm

Unlike any other festival, South by Southwest is unique to everyone who attends. And I love that about this festival. With over 2,200 bands spread out over 100 venues and five days of music, everyone sees something different and walks away with different joys and discoveries. You could go to a Brooklyn Vegan showcase and spend the whole day in one place. You could search out only Latino bands, or metal bands, hip hop or blues. In fact, when the All Songs crew gathers to record our late night dispatches on the streets of Austin, Texas, we all share completely different joys.

Read more
First Listen
12:09 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

First Listen: The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, 'The Jazz Age'

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra's new album, The Jazz Age, comes out Feb. 12.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 7:09 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

This is just about the most surprising album in recent memory, and a complete joy. The singer for Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry has also enjoyed a long solo career, both as an interpreter of songs by others — Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Sam Cooke, Cole Porter, Lou Reed and many more — and as an extraordinary songwriter who's released 13 solo albums, each with its own strengths.

Read more
Music
6:21 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 12:39 pm

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:

Read more
Music
6:16 pm
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 8:25 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.

Read more
Holiday Music
6:13 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Question Of The Week: When Should You Start Playing Holiday Music?

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 4:39 pm

Read more
Music
4:54 am
Tue November 6, 2012

First Listen: Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch, 'The Mystery Of Heaven'

Jozef Van Wissem and Jim Jarmusch's new album, The Mystery of Heaven, comes out Nov. 13.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 9:52 am

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

Film director and screenwriter Jim Jarmusch makes music an integral part of his films: He often casts musicians in key roles and frequently incorporates music into his plots. Think about his film Down by Law, with saxophonist John Lurie and singer Tom Waits, or Stranger Than Paradise, in which "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins is a key character.

Read more
First Listen
9:29 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

First Listen: Sean Rowe, 'The Salesman And The Shark'

Sean Rowe's new album, The Salesman and the Shark, comes out August 28.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 6:50 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

Read more
All Songs Considered Blog
12:49 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

First Watch: Aimee Mann, 'Charmer'

Sheryl Nields Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 8:38 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.

Read more
First Listen
9:32 am
Mon August 20, 2012

First Listen: Dan Deacon, 'America'

Dan Deacon
Shawn Brackbill Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 2:50 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

America is an album packed with melody and noise, minimalism and excess, harshness and beauty — sometimes all the same time. Dan Deacon's music is steeped in pop, electronics and classical music, making this record an absolute adventure.

Read more
All Songs Considered Blog
3:50 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

'Big Easy Express': Three Bands, One Train, A Ton Of Music

Bryan Ling

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 8:25 am

Attention fans of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show: You are bound for glory! Big Easy Express is a new film featuring all three bands and their whistle-stop journey from Oakland to New Orleans aboard a vintage train.

Read more
All Songs Considered Blog
5:43 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Song Premiere: Neil Young Sets 'Americana' On Fire

Americana's cover art.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat May 12, 2012 5:43 pm

You've never heard "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain" quite like this. For their first album together in nine years, Neil Young and Crazy Horse have taken classic American folk music and reinvigorated these songs with muscle, radiance and a whole lot of electric guitar. Some songs from the 19th century include "Oh Susanna" (no banjo here) and "Tom Dula" (you may know it better as "Tom Dooley").

Read more