We've often joked on the show about the virtual circus that's endlessly unfolding in Bob Boilen's brain, where his childlike imagination dances to the sound of a whistling calliope. So, for Bob's birthday this week, it felt appropriate to begin our show with nearly seven-foot tall clown named Puddles who sings a surreal mashup of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" and The Who's "Pinball Wizard." We're not making this up. Watch the video in our playlist below if you don't believe me. It turns out that, apart from singing, Puddles never speaks, so we gave his assistant and interpreter Mike Geier a call to learn more about how this crazy mashup came to be.
We've also got a blistering country rock cut from singer Andrew Combs, who gets political on a song called "Bourgeois King." The baroque pop of San Fermin gets bigger than ever on the band's new full-length, Belong; the Paris-based singer known as ALA.NI croons like it's the 1940s; and NPR Music's Lars Gotrich stops by to blow our minds (and ear drums) with the scorching punk of a band called Exit Order, tempered by the hypnotic jazz of Joshua Abrams and Natural Information Society. -- Robin Hilton