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.

It was a late night at an unfamiliar club in Austin, Texas when the spirit, sound, lights and costumes of the Golden Dawn Arkestra put a huge, dreamy smile on my face. It took more than three years to get ten of the players and performers in this band (there are often even more) to my desk. I tried to transform the bright daylight of the NPR office with some of my handy, previously used holiday laser lights. But honestly, it wasn't until their psychedelic jazz kicked in that the office transformation felt real.

Our 2016 Tiny Desk Contest winner Gaelynn Lea is back with a new video and a new album on the way.

It was Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day when this somewhat loud and sometimes frenetic band came to play at my desk. I couldn't help but wonder if The Messthetics would inspire some eight-year old child in the office to one day become a musician, one who'd go on tell the tale of seeing these D.C. legends at an office when they were a kid.

Death Cab For Cutie is back with some pretty great new music. The band has just announced that a new album is on the way called Thank You for Today. And in this special episode of All Songs Considered, singer Ben Gibbard shares and talks about the first single, "Gold Rush."

When 14-year-old Grace VanderWaal came to perform at the Tiny Desk I had to confess to her (and her mom) that, until my "accidental concert experience," I had no idea who she was, nor did I know what America's Got Talent was.

It all started this past February, when I went to the 9:30 Club, a 1,200 capacity music venue, to see what I thought was a show by rock guitarist Grace Vonderkuhn and her power trio from Delaware.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Singer Meg Myers' exasperation with her former record label birthed the song "Numb." She wrote me to say that the song "is about how I was feeling when my (former) record company was looking for something out of me that just didn't feel right for many reasons. I was frustrated and it came through in this song."

This is an unusual, beautiful and dark album curated by — and at times performed by — the Danish musician Agnes Obel. It's part of a series of artist-curated albums called Late Night Tales. Nils Frahm, The Flaming Lips, Jon Hopkins and others have put their own records together for the series in the past.

Parquet Courts' fifth album, Wide Awake! is a turning point for the band. The four guys based in New York made conscious attempts to push their music out of their habitual tendencies toward aggressive rock and wound up with their most interesting record to date, with the help of producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse).

It was daylight but the music was dark and moody. And despite having the office lights turned on high, it was Khruangbin's trance-inducing tone that set the mood and carried me away.

I remember feeling absolutely free. I recall the sensation of joy.

I first saw Glenn Branca at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. in 1982. I came away from that concert wondering how it was that I, having spent so much of my life listening to music, had simply never thought about music simply as noise, perhaps somewhat organized, to varying degrees, but noise nonetheless. Branca, who died this past Sunday, gave me what may have been the loudest noise I'd ever heard that night, give or take a jackhammer or a jet engine, familiar sounds from growing up in Queens, N.Y.

"These times are poignant / The winds have shifted / It's all we can do / To stay uplifted."

Those words are sung so powerfully by Rising Appalachia, the musical project of sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith. This uplifting, original folk song for these challenging times is called "Resilient."

"I think this is one of my vaguest songs," Mitski says in this conversation about her new song, "Geyser." "Usually my songs have a narrative of some sort. But this song is all feeling."

I am so proud of our 2018 Tiny Desk Contest winner, Naia Izumi. The band he brought and the songs they played for this winning Tiny Desk Concert made us all even prouder.

A very pregnant Abigail Washburn points to Bela Fleck at the Tiny Desk and says "and just so you know, this is his fault." I won't spoil the video by telling you his response.

There is nothing subtle about this performance of "Cue the Machines" by Yonatan Gat. And that's pretty much true of nearly every part of this brash guitarist and his music, including his stint as part of the Israeli garage-rocker band Monotonix.

Even though the world will eventually come to an end, there's still beauty and hope in all of us and in song. That about sums up the wistful mystery that is the music of Darlingside. The quartet brought dystopian storytelling wrapped in choral harmony with this performance at the Tiny Desk. Their singing is layered on a bed of percussive and melodic tones, made with guitars both acoustic and electric, violin, cello, mandolin and a tiny synthesizer.

From the sounds of blues guitarist and singer Lead Belly to recordings of Southwestern Woodhouse Toads, Smithsonian Folkways has been capturing the sounds of global history for the past 70 years. These recordings are among 60,000 treasured tracks the label has in its library — and it promises they'll never go out of print — from the labor songs of Woody Guthrie and children's songs of Ella Jenkins to New Orleans hot jazz, songs of the civil rights movement, the Honk Horn music of Ghana and so much more.

Dictators as children. That's the frightening prospect put forward in this video and song by Young Fathers called, "Toy"

The song kicks off with the words, "I got ss-stammers and no manners / I'm the man that's gonna play it for keeps / Oceanic cinematic appetite for something bigger than free."

This is as spare as music can be – songs stripped to their essence and just gorgeous. Azniv Korkejian is Bedouine, a singer and acoustic guitarist who echoes sounds from the 1960's North American folk songwriters, but with vocal inflections that feel closer to Leonard Cohen than to Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez.

I went from really loving the music of Superorganism to being a transformed super-fan the moment they sent me an email ahead of their Tiny Desk performance asking, "is it okay if we [bring] inflatable whales when we play?" Now I feel like the kind of fan I was when I wore a yellow radiation suit to a Devo concert in 1978.

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