Bob Boilen

Billy Bragg has been writing and singing songs for justice — and against injustice — for more than 30 years; thankfully he is never going to stop. Bragg's continued passion is clear in "Saffiyah Smiles," his new song of solidarity inspired by recent racial tensions in America and an incident that happened closer to Bragg's home in Birmingham, England, at an anti-immigrant demonstration this past spring.

The high-energy blast that musicians often reserve for their finale is the starting point for Diet Cig.

NOTE: Each day this week we'll be rolling out a series of videos from Sylvan Esso that comprise the duo's upcoming visual EP, Echo Mountain Sessions.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band turns 50 next week — so what's been done to celebrate one of the greatest records ever? They've remixed the entire album! The word "remix," in fact, may not capture the scope of the project — it's more like someone rebuilt a pyramid with fresh bricks. But a question remains: Why would anyone do so? I traveled to New York to meet Giles Martin, who spearheaded the project, to find that out.

We watched more than 6,000 videos. Ten judges weighed in. Now, the 2017 Tiny Desk Contest has a winner.

Today, Chuck Berry turns 90.

And today, the man who helped define rock 'n' roll celebrates by announcing his first album in 38 years.

The album is simply called CHUCK, and it features a hometown backing band that includes his children Charles Berry Jr. on guitar and Ingrid Berry on harmonica, along with his bassist for nearly 40 years, Jimmy Marsala. The album was recorded in Berry's hometown of St. Louis and will be out in 2017.

While I sat on the floor watching Graham Nash play The Hollies' 1966 hit "Bus Stop," I caught a glimpse of the same transistor radio I had as a kid when that song filled the AM radio airwaves. It was surreal and beautiful.

I'd already been thinking a lot about George Martin. I've spent the last year writing a book about the songs that changed the lives of musicians, and in the introductory chapter I offer my own selection. "A Day in the Life," by The Beatles, changed the way I think about music. It's a song George Martin, who died on Tuesday at the age of 90, had a clear hand in.

This essay first appeared in the 2010 book This Is NPR: The First Forty Years, a collection of writing by NPR staff and contributors.


I should have cared more, but I didn't. I should have cried, but I didn't.

He meant so much to me.

But the day John Lennon died, my life and his music were never more distant.

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.

JiHAE, 'It Just Feels'

May 7, 2015

This fiery song is pretty much an ode to orgasm. JiHAE sings this song with conviction:

It feels so good

And it feels so right

It feels like I've been rescued

in the middle of the nightI

People always ask me, "What's your favorite Tiny Desk Concert?" Well, right now it's the one recently performed by DakhaBrakha. The creative quartet from Kiev, Ukraine make music that sounds like nothing I've ever heard, with strands of everything I've ever heard. There are rhythms that sound West African and drone that feels as if it could have emanated from India or Australia. At times, DakhaBrakha is simply a rock band whose crazy homeland harmonies are filled with joy.

Today we're thrilled to announce that the winner of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest is Fantastic Negrito.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Neil Young wants to start a revolution against the MP3, against the CD, poorly made vinyl and poor audio quality in general. He wants people to hear the music the way it was made.

"'The World Is Changing' is groove with a message." That quote, a pretty good summary of the music of Femi Kuti in just nine words, comes from Juan Gélas, the creative director of a new video for Kuti's new song. Femi Kuti is a saxophonist, trumpeter, keyboard player and singer and songwriter. The son of legendary afrobeat musician Fela Kuti, he carries on the tradition of mixing Nigerian beats along with jazz and a healthy dose of politics. Juan Gélas says, "Femi Kuti continues to be a leading protest artist out of modern Africa and his voice talks to us all."

Playing a free concert comes with risks. Sure, more people will show up, but they may care less about who's on stage than they do about catching up with friends; ironically, it often means the band has to work harder to win over the crowd. Seattle's Ivan & Alyosha did just that on the final night of the 2013 South by Southwest music festival, at a club called TenOak in Austin, Texas.