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Bob Boilen Wrote A Book

All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's first book, Your Song Changed My Life, will be out in April 2016. Meg Vogel/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Meg Vogel/NPR

All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's first book, Your Song Changed My Life, will be out in April 2016.

Meg Vogel/NPR
Your Song Changed My Life by Bob Boilen
Harper Collins
Your Song Changed My Life by Bob Boilen
Harper Collins

I've spent the past few years talking with musicians about a song that altered the course of their life. Now those conversations are making up my first book, called Your Song Changed My Life: From Jimmy Page to St. Vincent, Smokey Robinson to Hozier, Thirty-Five Beloved Artists on Their Journey and the Music That Inspired It.

Each chapter centers on a particular song beloved by a particular musician. In each, I tried to draw connections between the musician I know and what they reveal about the song that's most important to them. I tried to find the one moment when music was not just infatuation, but a call to action: Dave Grohl describes how his encounter with the band Naked Raygun inspired him to make his own music, Courtney Barnett shares how her love of a Wilco tune made her want to write more complex songs, a song by The Replacements gave a young Carrie Brownstein a sense of belonging and the music of Sam Cooke helped James Blake find his voice.

What I loved about writing this book was how unpredictable those moments of inspiration were. If you know his music, it makes sense that Josh Ritter would love Bob Dylan. But that Dylan would inspire Kate Tempest's love of hip-hop — I didn't see that coming. Some of the stories reinforce how random or serendipitous these life-changing moments can be — a box of records falling off a truck in front of Annie Clark's home; a guitar left behind in the new home of a young Jimmy Page. Your Song Changed My Life looks at the nature of fate, and how young artists seize the opportunity to chase their dreams, find their voices and change lives, no matter how randomly that chance arrives.

Each of these conversations gave me new insights into artists (like Jeff Tweedy, David Byrne, Justin Vernon, Ian MacKaye, Regina Carter, Valerie June, Philip Glass and Sharon Van Etten) that I thought I knew. You can find more information about the book (which will come out April 12) here.

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