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Hobo Johnson's Journey From Homelessness To A Major Label Contract

Hobo Johnson is otherwise known as Frank Lopes Jr. His new album, out now on Warner Records, is <em>The Fall of Hobo Johnson.</em>
Jade Ehlers
Courtesy of the artist
Hobo Johnson is otherwise known as Frank Lopes Jr. His new album, out now on Warner Records, is The Fall of Hobo Johnson.

Like almost 6,000 other artists, Hobo Johnson entered the Tiny Desk Contest in 2018. But unlike the other entries, his video, for the song "Peach Scone," went viral. It now has nearly 16-million views. Though Hobo Johnson didn't win the Contest, I did invite them to play a proper Tiny Desk.

Life has changed a lot over the past few years for Frank Lopes Jr. He and his band The Lovemakers just released The Fall of Hobo Johnson, their first major-label album. It's a far cry from the record Frank made alone when he was living in his car and recording on a laptop.

On the day before his album came out, Hobo Johnson joined me to play DJ. He was at NPR's studios in Culver City, Calif. and I was in D.C. We discussed the making of his album and played some of the music that has inspired him over the years. I think you'll be surprised by some of his picks.

And just a note: When Frank sings, the words often violate FCC rules. But, as he says, at the top of his Tiny Desk Contest entry, he doesn't care about rules.

1. Hobo Johnson: 'Peach Scone (live)' Tiny Desk Contest Entry

2. Hobo Johnson: "Typical Story" from The Fall of Hobo Johnson

3. Benjamin Clementine: "Winston Churchill's Boy" from At Least for Now

4. Neutral Milk Hotel: "Two-Headed Boy Part 2" from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

5. Hobo Johnson: "I Want a Dog" from The Fall of Hobo Johnson

6. Son Lux: "Lanterns Lit" from Lanterns

7. Hobo Johnson: "You & The Cockroach" from The Fall of Hobo Johnson

8. Conor Oberst: "Barbary Coast" from Ruminations

9. Hobo Johnson: "Ugly Kid" from The Fall of Hobo Johnson

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In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.