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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This year's Tiny Desk Contest was unlike any other.

Thanks for joining our live listening party for Fiona Apple's remarkable Fetch the Bolt Cutters. NPR Music's Ann Powers, Marissa Lorusso and I had the opportunity to answer some of your great questions about the influence of the rhythms of the African diaspora on Apple's first album in eight years, as well as talk about the experience of listening in isolation. Thank you for all your love and thoughts in the chat!

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


"Hello, this is Ben Gibbard, welcome to Tiny Desk, Seattle style."

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.

Don't see the video above? Click here.

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!

by Richard Thompson / YouTube

Legendary guitarist Richard Thompson has composed a stunning score for a film honoring World War II fighter pilots and, to my surprise, there's not a lot of guita

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.

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Songwriter Bernie Dalton, who, with his musical partners, created one of our most powerful and memorable Tiny Desk concerts, has died at 49 from complications of bulbar-onset ALS, an a

From my vantage point — a white kid growing up on the blistering guitars of my '60s guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton — Mdou Moctar has made the most insane psychedelic guitar album of the 21st century. From his perspective, growing up in a small village in central Niger, Moctar may not even know what I'm talking about. In fact, in a press statement, he says, "I don't know what rock is exactly. I have no idea.

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In 2014, we started the Tiny Desk Contest with the humble goal of discovering new music. Since then, your entries have blown us away.

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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

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Today, the great young, American singer Lucy Dacus

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

Video by Andrew Benincasa and Amandine Kaye / YouTube

It took a beckoning of sorts for the Stray Birds leader Maya De Vitry to write songs for her own album.

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Andrew Hozier-Byrne has a new album coming in March. His second album, called Wasteland, Baby!, is his first full-length record in four-and-a-half years.

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).

What were you doing when you were 7 years old?

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

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."

"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."

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Nearly 5,000 entries from all 50 states and we had to pick just one! The competition rose to a new level this year, and the decision was harder than ever.

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.

River Whyless is a band whose members push themselves toward perfection while holding each other up and allowing for some risk-taking. This is a band not only of strong players and singers but something a lot of bands rarely have: multiple, talented songwriters.

We have, nearly five years after the debut release of Woman, new music from Rhye and word of a new album, due next year on Loma Vista. (Given the recent tour announcement that has them hitting the road in February, it's probably safe to say that the album will come not too long after the new year.)

Gaelynn Lea is a violinist, a public speaker and an advocate for people with disabilities. She was born with brittle bone disease and that shapes the way she plays the violin, holding it upright, more like a cello than the traditional method under the chin.

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