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 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.

Ask a Bruce Springsteen fan about the holy grails of his concerts and you're likely to hear about a 1980 Tempe, Ariz. show. Today NPR Music has video of Springsteen performing "The River" from that very concert. The brilliant performance — or at least much of it — was recorded using four cameras and a multitrack machine for audio. It's all been put together and is being released 35 years later as part of a new box set called The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.

Brian Burton has good taste. As Danger Mouse, he's won five Grammy Awards and worked with everyone from the Black Keys to Gorillaz to Adele. Now the musician, songwriter and producer is adding another impressive project to his resume: his own record label.

I'm happy to have new music from the harmonious and ethereal band Quilt. The Boston quartet's 2014 album, Held in Splendor, is a favorite of mine. Their third album, Plaza, is coming on Feb. 26, and this first new song "Eliot St.," is a pleasant extension of the band's sound.

What is it like to sing songs almost 50 years after first writing and recording them? How does it feel to make your most creative work only to have it ignored? I wondered about these questions when I went and talked with Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, two of the original members of The Zombies. They were in town with all the surviving members of their original band to perform their long overlooked, now classic 1968 album, Odessey and Oracle in full alongside earlier hits like "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" and songs from their 2015 album Still Got The Hunger.

Martin Atkins, a drummer, producer and professor, weaves the terrifying tale of any musicians' personal horror in this spooky Halloween installment of The Martin Atkins Minute, an occasional series in our All Songs +1 podcast.

It was a moment of television magic. I heard a brand new song from my favorite band and saw them on film, walking around and riding horses. If the expression "my mind was blown" had been created, I'd have phoned up my friends and told them that. All I can remember saying to my friends after seeing The Beatles' "Penny Lane" film is, "That was boss!" And now that film is back and more beautiful than ever.

Listen to this conversation and you'll feel like you're sitting in an airport lounge eavesdropping on two smart, funny, mutually-admiring musicians.

There's a lot of mediocrity to sort through when you hop from one club to another during a festival like the CMJ Music Marathon, five days during which bands flock to New York. So when I find stuff that stands out, that pushes the inevitable evolutionary boundaries of rock, I get really happy.

The way we listen to music evolves constantly. From wax cylinder recordings all the way through to today's streaming services, formats have come a long way. What's next? What does this unending metamorphosis say about the music industry? And what does any of this have to do with Robert De Niro?

Good luck getting these tunes out of your head.

I first became enchanted with Marian McLaughlin's music when she was searching for ways to mix her quirky classical guitar picking with her equally unusual voice. McLaughlin follows her muse for a sound that occasionally recalls Joanna Newsom or the psychedelic folk music of The Incredible String Band.

NPR Music is in Nashville all this week for the 16th annual AmericanaFest. So the newest episode of All Songs Considered offers a big bundle of music from some of the acts who are playing the festival that the team is most excited to see. Before leaving D.C., Bob called up NPR Music's Ann Powers and NPR Music contributor Jewly Hight in Music City to talk about what Americana means, and who its newest and most promising voices are.

Are you a musician looking to be heard? If so — or even if you're not — give a listen to the first segment of a new series we're calling The Martin Atkins Minute.

Today, on our All Songs +1 podcast, we're doing something a bit different. It's a conversation between two people we love, Sharon Van Etten and Mimi Parker from the band Low, about being a mom and being in a rock band.

A week ago today we launched our new All Songs Considered 24/7 Music Channel as a way to celebrate the show's tenth anniversary. Since then, we've gotten a number of notes from listeners asking about all the different ways they can tune in. Of course, you can hear the stream online and see the songs that are playing, and a list of those that have recently played.

We've been a cat free zone for 15 years here on All Songs Considered, but today, for good reason, we break our rule. It's Friday. I'm in a silly mood, and have been since watching this cat video, which has apparently short-circuited my normal news filter.

BOOTS is the most interesting new artist I've heard in 2015. You may have first encountered him writing and producing songs on Beyoncé's self-titled 2013 album. Earlier this year we premiered BOOTS' self-directed engaging short film/music video Motorcycle Jesus, complete with five brand new songs: his own songs.

I savor the moment of finding a band to love. I relish those first singles and EPs, and hearing their live sound take shape on record. And then they release their debut album.

Guest DJ: Leon Bridges

Jul 28, 2015

I'd never imagined a great song poet writing "Getting Ready to Get Down," but there we have it. It's a hard and humorous look at religion, sex and a "risky" teenager becoming herself despite Bible school intervention. I talked with Josh Ritter about this song, and you can hear that interview and the song here or subscribe to the All Songs Considered podcast.

Sufjan Stevens told the Newport Folk Festival crowd that this was his dream come true. What he never would have imagined in his wildest of dreams was that his performance was to follow a surprise performance from James Taylor. He was humbled to play after "Sweet Baby James," but honestly, his songs carry a power similar to that of Taylor's for a new generation of folk music fans.

The most puzzling musician on the lineup at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival was easily Pink Floyd's Roger Waters. For me, Pink Floyd represents the antithesis of folk music, with the band's psychedelic pulsating landscapes and big rock drums and guitars. Out there and psychedelic, yeah — down home and folky, nope.

We kick off this week's All Songs Considered with new music from Wilco. The band surprised fans by dropping a new album out of the blue late last week. It's called ... wait for it ... Star Wars, and Wilco is letting everyone download it for free from the group's website (for a month). But don't let the playful name fool you. Star Wars is one of Wilco's trippiest, most inventive and surprising releases in 20 years of making music.

Guest DJ: SOAK

Jul 14, 2015

One of the most outstanding and challenging new bits of music I've heard this year comes from Makeunder, the project of Hamilton Ulmer, an Oakland-based musician with a penchant for exploration. "Great Headless Blank" was the inspired track we played on All Songs Considered back in April, now it's the title track to Makeunder's latest EP, which we are proudly premiering here, along with track-by-track thoughts from Hamilton Ulmer.

Earlier this week, All Songs Considered shared our favorite music from debut albums released in the first half of 2015. The NPR Music team also got together to make epic lists of albums and songs we already think might make our year-end lists in December.

Thursdays this year we're celebrating All Songs Considered's 15th birthday with personal memories and highlights from the show's decade and a half online and on the air. If you have a personal memory about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email:

There's a new album coming from Beach House, the dreamy Baltimore-based duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. That album, called Depression Cherry, comes out on Sub Pop on Aug. 28. Today we get to hear a first song from the album, called "Sparks," and I interviewed Beach House about it.