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.

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In the past year, we've had some pretty big names come perform at the Tiny Desk: Lizzo,

Note: With hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton away this week, we've got an encore presentation of The Worst Songs Of All Time, from Feb. 2014.


Guitarist, actor, writer (and former Monitor Mix blogger) Carrie Brownstein joins us, along with NPR Music's Stephen Thompson, to do something we don't normally do: Talk about the songs we really, really don't like.

For the past 14 years, producer Andy Zax has been digging into the music and sounds of Woodstock, that culture-shifting music festival that unfolded in August of 1969. Now, 50 years later, all 32 performances — the audio announcements, the entirety of this three-day festival in upstate New York — is about to be released by Rhino Records in a 38-disc box titled Woodstock - Back To The Garden:The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive.

This month marks 60 years since the very first Newport Folk Festival. NPR has been covering the event since its rebirth in 2008. Jay Sweet, now the executive producer, was mostly responsible for the festival's revival, booking unexpected bands and reinvigorating the spirit of the annual gathering. It's long been a place where musicians would collaborate and make music often steeped in social justice.

For the past year, NPR has been taking a deep look at American anthems and all the forms they can take. These are the songs that unite us, inspire us or say something about what it means to be an American — songs as traditional as Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," or as defiant as Public Enemy's "Fight the Power."

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In the course of a few songs at the Tiny Desk, Imogen Heap took us through her many musical talents. The concert began with her old Frou Frou musical partner, Guy Sigsworth — and their first new song in 17 years — and ended with an extraordinary demonstration and performance of her high-tech musical gloves.

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This just in: The Muppets have arrived at NPR!

The news has stopped!

Count von Count and the NPR kids count us down: 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1!

Jeremy Dutcher came to the Tiny Desk with sparkling, purple streams of glitter draped around his shoulders. Then he set his iPad on our Yamaha upright piano, not to read his score as pianists do these days, but to play a centuries-old wax cylinder recording of a song sung in the incredibly rare language of Wolastoq. Jeremy Dutcher, along with cellist Blanche Israel and percussionist and electronics wizard Greg Harrison, wove that old recording into a remarkably passionate performance that was very 21st-century, with a deep nod to a century past.

This year, I was blown away by the Tiny Desk Contest entries I saw. We received over 6,000 entries from all across the country. We saw tiny desks up on rooftops and down on a subway platform; tucked into treetops, pickup trucks and laundromats. We heard songs about the situations that make life difficult and the people that make life worth living.

Have you ever had Persian cotton candy? It looks like Muppet hair and tastes like pistachio — well, at least the one we ate in the studio.

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There's new music from Big Thief: a song, released today, called "UFOF," and the band's third album, coming May 3, titled

While accepting the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for Please Don't Be Dead, Fantastic Negrito gave a shout-out to the Tiny Desk concerts series, which he said changed the course of his life and offered hope when he'd almost given up.

Fifty years ago today, on Jan. 30, 1969, The Beatles gave what would be their final concert. And on this special episode of All Songs Considered, we talk with someone who was there: Ken Mansfield wrote and just released a new book on this life-changing event called The Roof: The Beatles' Final Concert. Mansfield was the U.S.

Editor's note: This page has been updated to include more of the conversation between Bob Boilen and Ezra Koenig.

The music I loved most in 2018 was often filled with more graceful and subtle tones, like the works of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds, German composer Niklas Paschburg and the mysteriously soulful serpentwithfeet. I loved songs with introspective stories.

Ever wonder what albums your fellow NPR fans listen to? We asked, you voted and below are the results our year-end listener poll for 2018. The list mirrors the NPR Music Top 50 Albums more than I've noticed in previous years. Like that list, listeners put Janelle Monáe, Kacey Musgraves, Mitski and Lucy Dacus all in the top positions.

It's Sept. 11, 1968 in Studio Two at Abbey Road. The Beatles had just finished their ninth attempt at recording "Glass Onion" when John Lennon, the song's chief writer, calls out to Chris Thomas sitting in a control room above the studio. "What do you think upstairs, Chris?" The 21-year old assistant to producer George Martin replies on a talkback microphone, "It wasn't quite together on the first verse, I don't think." And so, The Beatles launch into take 10 (which you can hear below).

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Today we have some incredible, never-before-seen footage of John Lennon recording his seemingly cutthroat song, "How Do You Sleep?" It's a song he released in 1971 and directed at his

At 76, Paul Simon has been writing music for more than 60 years. And all that's about to come to an end.

Note: This episode of All Songs Considered originally ran on Oct. 11, 2017.

It's a rare pleasure to find music that gives me pause, slows me down from the daily deluge and gives me a moment to think. That's exactly what happened when I first heard "Caravan" from Opium Moon's self-titled, debut album. This music with violin, santur (a hammered dulcimer,) ancient percussion and bass is spacious and timeless.

With My Morning Jacket on hiatus, frontman Jim James has moved away from his bedroom solo albums and assembled something more reminiscent of a great, '70s rock band. Uniform Distortion is his latest solo adventure and "Just a Fool" is the cowbell-rocking song we have for you today.

We're one week into the 2018 contest and love what we're seeing. Submissions have already come in from all over the country featuring music and desks ofall varieties. With that, we'd like to take a moment to celebrate the first entry we received: Ian Bamberger's "A Privateer's Eyes."

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It's time to crank up the amps, warm up the drum machines, dust off the sax (or whatever your instrument of choice is) and enter the Tiny Desk

I think Randy Newman is a national treasure. If he was just a funny guy making music, I'd be OK with that, but his wit is sardonic, satirical and politically on point. Mixing politics and humor with music is usually about the punchline, and his punchlines even make the singer smile.

Randy Newman paints lasting portraits of places and people, all the while poking fun and highlighting injustice, stupidity, power and humanity and he's been doing it for half a century. Here are the opening lines to his recently released song "Putin":

Guest DJ Randy Newman

Aug 15, 2017

Note: This week we're featuring select episodes from our Guest DJ archives. Today we've got a conversation with Randy Newman. The singer, composer and pianist recently released his 11th solo album. It's called Dark Matter. Bob Boilen originally spoke with Newman back in 2008 when Newman released his previous record, Harps And Angels.

Intensity in songs often expresses itself as volume – a loud guitar, a scream, a piercing synth line. But in the case of Aldous Harding it's in the spaces, the pauses, and her unique delivery. Watch her Tiny Desk Concert and you can see this in her facial expressions and body posture.

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