Bob Boilen

This just in: Aliens from pretty far away have been listening to music from Earth for the past 35 years. As it turns out, the planet's only redeeming quality is our music. From a legal standpoint this is great news, the biggest copyright violation since forever. That's the first thing you want to know about Rob Reid's smart and wacky novel Year Zero, out this week.

I try and see music as much as I can. I've been going to the 9:30 Club since it opened. In fact, I was in the first band to ever play the club. So when I walked in the front doors of the club to see an M. Ward show recently, I was surprised that I, along with everyone else getting their hand stamped, received the following marching orders: "Tonight, no photography or videos. Including cell phones."

Attention fans of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show: You are bound for glory! Big Easy Express is a new film featuring all three bands and their whistle-stop journey from Oakland to New Orleans aboard a vintage train.

It's hard to pick a favorite Tiny Desk Concert from the hundreds we've done, but this could be the one. For me, music is best when it surprises, takes chances and makes me smile. Comedian and musician Reggie Watts performed three "songs" at the NPR Music offices, all of them spontaneous improvisations and all of them playful, even magical.

Watts came with a simple setup of loop pedals, delay pedals and a microphone. He laid down the beats and bass, entirely with his voice, and built up layers of sound, melody and rhythm — more like a magician than a musician.

Back in early May, I went to the Beacon Theatre in New York City to see The Beach Boys' 50th-anniversary tour. I expected a decent show, but it was so much more than that: It was breathtaking.

Daniel Johnston is a troubled soul with a talent for writing honest, disarmingly direct songs. Kurt Cobain famously wore a T-shirt with the title of a Johnston cassette on it, while Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips ranks among his many musical admirers. M.

When an old musical "friend" puts out a record, I secretly pray for greatness, as if rooting for a favorite team. These later records often pale in comparison to their early predecessors, but still I listen and try to find something I love.

I just deleted over 25,000 songs from my iTunes library. I am going to trust in the cloud, where my library now lives. I'm a bit scared, but I backed everything up, took a deep breath and stepped into the future.

Abandoning the way I've come to listen to music over the last decade feels like a big experiment, but in some ways, the decision was a long time coming. I've been close to maxing out the hard drive space on my laptop for a while, and in a single day this week, I reclaimed nearly 200 gigabytes.

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