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Bob Boilen's 40 Favorite Songs Of 2020

From left, Bob Dylan, Shamir and Sylvan Esso.
Getty Images / Girlie Action / Shore Fire Media
From left, Bob Dylan, Shamir and Sylvan Esso.

Quietude. More than half of the music I connected with and loved in 2020 fit that description. In past years, many of my nights were spent at clubs, seeing live music — loud, brash, fun, uplifting, and thrilling. That all stopped in mid-March, right about the time I'd usually be in the midst of thousands of fans seeing hundreds of musicians at SXSW. Being alone, away from friends, colleagues, and clubs, I connected deeply with music that drew me in with subtly, yearning, and atmosphere. Thank you to all those musicians who poured their hearts into their instruments in 2020.

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