Discover Songs


Now that we're firmly into the month of July, we're past the halfway point of 2009, and that has members of NPR's music team thinking about how this year stacks up musically in its mid-life.

I'm joined by All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen. And Bob, you are conducting a poll of the best music of 2009.

BOB BOILEN: We're asking people to give us their favorite three songs of the year, favorite three records of the year. We'll take all of those, total them up and then we're going to make a poll out of it. And that poll people will vote on and then very soon, toward the middle of July, you'll be able to discover what people's favorite records and favorite songs are.

BLOCK: And you have brought in with you today your three favorite songs of the year with some qualifications. Let's listen to your first song.

(Soundbite of song, "Charlie Darwin")

Mr. BEN KNOX MILLER (Singer): (Singing) Set the sails, I feel the winds a'stirring. Toward the bright horizon set the away.

BOILEN: I get chills at the moment I hear this guy's voice.

BLOCK: It's an amazing voice. Who is this?

BOILEN: This is Ben Knox Miller. The group is called The Low Anthem. This is their second record. They put it out as a very under-the-radar album back in 2008. And some folks at Nonesuch Records heard it, re-ordered the song listing, put it out and the record's called "Oh My God, Charlie Darwin." This is a song about Charles Darwin. And the record has these underpinnings of history of Charles Darwin all set in this fairly folky and at times hymnal quality song structure.

(Soundbite of song, "Charlie Darwin")

Mr. MILLER: (Singing) Oh, my god, the water's all around us. Oh, my god, it's all around.

BLOCK: So this is the song "Charlie Darwin" by The Low Anthem. Your second pick for favorite song of the year so far?

BOILEN: Let's do something really different. Let's get to a much poppier number. There's a group called Fanfarlo. And Fanfarlo are a British group led by a Swedish singer. They also took a historical figure there, a fellow named Harold T. Wilkins. Harold T. Wilkins was a journalist who sort of got caught up in this love, or fascination maybe, is a better way to put it, for flying saucers. And this song is called "Harold T. Wilkins or How to Wait for a Very Long Time."

(Soundbite of song, "Harold T. Wilkins or How to Wait for a Very Long Time")

FANFARLO (Band): (Singing) In a town where everyone will kick and scream and come to the same conclusion every time. Time to realize you were never on the team. There was always a question hanging over you. In a hot air balloon with a rusty nail looking over your shoulder and setting sail.

BLOCK: So, we've got "Harold T. Wilkins," "Charles Darwin," two biographical songs. What's your third pick?

BOILEN: The next one is sort of a cinematic bit of music. It's a fellow named Patrick Watson. His band he calls the Wooden Arms. This song is called "Beijing." And it's a song he wrote after being there.

(Soundbite of song, "Beijing")

Mr. PATRICK WATSON (Singer): (Singing): …to me, there was the sound of a city (unintelligible), there was the sound of a city…

BOILEN: There's pots and pans and all sorts of odd percussion.

(Soundbite of song, "Beijing")

BOILEN: If you listen really, really carefully, you'll hear being inspired by bicycles all over Beijing, you'll hear the turning of a chain on a bicycle and the spokes of the bicycle. Listen really carefully.

(Soundbite of song, "Beijing")

BLOCK: Oh, it's really subtle.

BOILEN: Ah, but that's the beauty of this music is the subtlety. Over and over again, you can hear these songs, and new things pop out, and that's why I like Patrick Watson a lot.

BLOCK: So, the song "Beijing" by Patrick Watson, your third pick for song of the year. Bob, tell me a little bit more about this poll that you're conducting with your fans.

BOILEN: Send us your nominations, favorite three songs. Go to the All Song Considered site, favorite three songs of the year, favorite three records of the year. And then we'll tally all the best ones, put them in a poll and then you'll be able to vote for them at

BLOCK: And we'll bring you those results later on in the summer on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED host Bob Boilen, thanks so much.

BOILEN: Thanks, my pleasure.

(Soundbite of song, "Beijing")

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