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Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)

Related threads:
Irwin Silber on copyright (15)
Folksinger's Wordbook: Silber &, Silber (7)
Happy! - Oct 17 (Irwin Silber) (1)
Irwin Silber's review of book 'Commies' (12)


babypix 09 Sep 10 - 10:30 AM
dick greenhaus 09 Sep 10 - 10:52 AM
John MacKenzie 09 Sep 10 - 11:34 AM
catspaw49 09 Sep 10 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,999 09 Sep 10 - 12:27 PM
Art Thieme 09 Sep 10 - 01:36 PM
Mary Katherine 09 Sep 10 - 04:24 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 09 Sep 10 - 04:25 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 09 Sep 10 - 04:38 PM
Stringsinger 09 Sep 10 - 07:41 PM
bobad 09 Sep 10 - 07:45 PM
Ron Davies 09 Sep 10 - 08:02 PM
Martha Burns 09 Sep 10 - 08:03 PM
Jack Campin 09 Sep 10 - 08:30 PM
GUEST,from tokyo 09 Sep 10 - 10:25 PM
goatfell 10 Sep 10 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 10 Sep 10 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,Sheila 11 Sep 10 - 08:27 AM
Jeri 11 Sep 10 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,Mindy Blaski MD 12 Sep 10 - 07:06 PM
GUEST,lompocan 13 Sep 10 - 03:30 PM
Ed Brown 20 Sep 10 - 08:00 AM
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Subject: Obit: Irwin Silber 10/17/25 = 9/8/2010
From: babypix
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 10:30 AM

Please join us in offering our most heartfelt condolences to his wife, singer and activist, Barbara Dane, and their family.

Irwin Silber was a dear friend with a great love of life, known to many of us as a music publisher, editor, writer of books and editorials; and a man of many opinions, some popular, some not so popular. He never minced words or spoke down to anyone, despite his keen intelligence and great wit.

Please honor his (sometimes controversial!) life's work by checking out the many, many contributions he has made to our culture through the decades.

We will miss him terribly.

Sadly,

Deborah Robins-Hanks


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber 10/17/25 = 9/8/2010
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 10:52 AM

Another man done gone...


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber 10/17/25 = 9/8/2010
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 11:34 AM

A man to whom we owe a lot.

Irwin Silber Wikipedia.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber 10/17/25 = 9/8/2010
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 12:05 PM

A major player and influence for many years......

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber 10/17/25 = 9/8/2010
From: GUEST,999
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 12:27 PM

Good man.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber 10/17/25 = 9/8/2010
From: Art Thieme
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 01:36 PM

His years at Sing Out! defined much of the folk world for me. I have much to thank him for.

Well done. Rest in peace!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: Mary Katherine
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 04:24 PM

Echoing Art's comments. Sincere condolences to Barbara, who has spent much of the last decade as his caregiver.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 04:25 PM

So sorry to hear this news. We owe him a lot.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 04:38 PM

Remembered by many here in UK who started their musical careers in the sixties. May he come to his place in peace.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: Stringsinger
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 07:41 PM

Irwin did so much for Sing Out! I followed his comments through the magazine for years.
He was not only an important voice for folk music but a conscience that guided Sing Out!
and his clarity and analysis was refreshing. He was an honest and aware person and his politics always carried with him a sense of integrity and commitment.

When he was the editor for Sing Out! I eagerly awaited the next issue. His criticism was always guided by an alternative viewpoint which I relished. I generally agreed with him.
Under his aegis, Sing Out was wonderfully controversial, something I really miss in so
many folk publications today. Irwin always made you think and opened your mind to other ways of looking at things. I like the fact that he allowed for change in his thinking when he thought he might have been mistaken. That took integrity. He always spoke out against injustice. That took courage.

My condolences to Barbara, of course. She is a great performer and social conscience for us all as well.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: bobad
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 07:45 PM

An anecdote from Wikipedia:

In the November 1965 edition of Sing Out!, Silber wrote an article called "Open Letter To Bob Dylan".

    "I saw at Newport how you had somehow lost contact with people ... some of the paraphernalia of fame were getting in your way".[1]

Dylan did not like being told how to perform or how to write, and he didn't really like any criticism much either. He replied by telling his manager Albert Grossman that his songs were no longer available for publication in Sing Out!.

Eventually, in 1968, Silber retracted his criticism in the Guardian (US):

    "Many of us who did not fully understand the dynamics of the political changes ... felt deserted by a poet". "Dylan is our poet - not our leader ... Dylan .. is communicating where it counts."

The words quoted above are from page 314 of "No Direction Home: the Life and Music of Bob Dylan" by Robert Shelton.

In "Chronicles Volume One" (2004), Bob Dylan commented:

    "I liked Irwin, but I couldn't relate to it. Miles Davis would be accused of something similar when he made the album Bitches Brew ... what I did to break away was to take simple folk changes and put new images and attitudes into them."


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 08:02 PM

He put out some excellent--and very useful and informative-- books.   I have one on Civil War songs, which I used just last weekend, to show how the Carter Family changed tunes of old songs.

Contributed a lot to the storehouse of knowledge.   He'll be missed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: Martha Burns
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 08:03 PM

I never knew him personally, but his was one of the earliest names I knew in folk music. A momentous passing.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 08:30 PM

I only had a few exchanges with him on Usenet: he was gracious, constructive and knowledgeable. Someone I'd always thought I'd like to meet but knew i probably never would.

Farewell.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: GUEST,from tokyo
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 10:25 PM

i wrote his death in Japanese.
forever irwin silber.

kiyohide,
tokyo folklore center


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: goatfell
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 08:25 AM

so sad that he is gone but not forgotten


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 02:15 PM

Much of my early folksong knowledge came from reading "Sing Out" magazine, then under the editorship of Irwin Silber. We never met, but I owe him a great debt. I am sure that he inspired many other people throughout the world.


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Subject: Obit: Irwin Silber (9/11/10_
From: GUEST,Sheila
Date: 11 Sep 10 - 08:27 AM

This obit to a champion of the folk music revival was in today's N.Y. Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/11/arts/music/11silber.html


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: Jeri
Date: 11 Sep 10 - 09:33 AM

The NY Times Obit:

Irwin Silber, Champion of the Folk Music Revival, Dies at 84
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Published: September 11, 2010


Irwin Silber, a founder and the longtime editor of the folk-music magazine Sing Out!, who was one of the prime movers behind the folk-music revival of the 1950s and 1960s and, on a famous occasion, treated Bob Dylan to a public scolding for abandoning his political songs, died on Wednesday in Oakland, Calif. He was 84.

The cause was complications of Alzheimer's disease, his son Frederic said.

Mr. Silber, an ardent leftist, found common cause with Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and others who regarded folk music as a form of political protest and a way of affirming the dignity of working people. In 1946, with other supporters, they founded People's Songs Inc., which published a bulletin "to create, promote and distribute songs of labor and the American people." Mr. Silber became its executive secretary in 1947.

After People's Songs went under in 1949, having exhausted its meager funds on Henry Wallace's failed 1948 presidential campaign, Mr. Silber, Mr. Seeger and others founded Sing Out!

Mr. Silber borrowed the title from the third verse of "The Hammer Song" (later known as "If I Had a Hammer), written in 1949 by Mr. Seeger and Mr. Hays, with its refrain "I'd sing out danger, I'd sing out a warning, I'd sing out love between all my brothers (and my sisters) all over this land."

The song appeared on the cover of the first issue, which came out in May 1950.

Mr. Silber assumed the title of editor within a few issues and continued in that post until 1967, steering the magazine through a heady period in which a growing audience embraced Southern blues singers, guitar and banjo pickers from the Appalachians and a new generation of young protest singers like Joan Baez and Mr. Dylan.

Under Mr. Silber, the magazine printed, for the first time, "Sixteen Tons," "This Land Is Your Land," "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," "Bells of Rhymney" and "Cotton Fields."

"He was one of a handful of people who can be called the architects of the folk revival, other than the performers themselves, and he helped move the music forward," said Mark D. Moss, the current editor of Sing Out! "A lot of people thought of folk music as a white guy writing his own songs and playing guitar, but Irwin went deeper, presenting songs from different cultures in different languages. He always saw this as an empowering, people-up movement."

Mr. Silber, who wrote a monthly column called "Fan the Flames," kept the pages lively. In an open letter to Mr. Dylan in November 1964, he accused him of becoming a sellout more interested in his own image and the entourage around him than in his audiences.

"I saw at Newport how you had somehow lost contact with people," he wrote, referring to that year's Newport Folk Festival. "It seemed to me that some of the paraphernalia of fame were getting in your way."

Even worse, Mr. Silber argued, Mr. Dylan had turned away from the political protest songs that first brought him fame. "Your new songs seem to be all inner-directed now, inner-probing, self-conscious — maybe even a little maudlin or a little cruel on occasion. And it's happening onstage, too. You seem to be relating to a handful of cronies behind the scenes now — rather than to the rest of us out front."

Mr. Dylan was not amused. Mr. Silber is often proposed as a possible target of the Dylan song "Positively Fourth Street."

One line in that song goes: "You say I let you down. You know it's not like that./If you're so hurt, why then don't you show it?"

Irwin Silber was born on Oct. 17, 1925, in Manhattan, where he attended Seward Park High School. Politically active from an early age, he joined the Young Communist League, the American Student Union and American Youth for Democracy while still in his teens.

At Brooklyn College he formed the American Folksay Group, a politically minded folk-music and folk-dancing organization. After graduating in 1945 with a bachelor's degree in English, he developed a close relationship with the musicians and folklorists, like Alan Lomax, who were involved in presenting and preserving folk music.

He would later be brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee for questioning, but he managed to deflate the atmosphere of high drama. On being asked what subject he had taught at the Communist-sponsored Jefferson School of Social Science, he answered, truthfully, "Square dancing." He left the Communist Party in the late 1950s.

After leaving Sing Out!, Mr. Silber wrote for Guardian, a radical weekly. He became its editor in 1972 but left in 1978 after doctrinal disputes divided the staff members.

Mr. Irwin's first two marriages ended in divorce. In addition to his son Frederic, of Redmond, Wash., he is survived by his wife, the singer Barbara Dane; another son, Joshua, of Manhattan; a daughter, Nina Silber-Hutchins, of Needham, Mass.; two grandchildren; two stepsons, Jesse Cahn of Luther, Okla., and Pablo Menendez of Havana; a stepdaughter, Nina Menendez of Oakland, Calif.; two step-grandchildren; and one step-great-grandchild.

Besides editing Sing Out!, Mr. Silber recorded protest songs from liberation movements around the world on the Paredon label, which he and Ms. Dane founded in 1970 and ran until the early 1980s.

He published many important folk-song collections, notably "Songs of the Civil War" (1960), "The Great Atlantic and Pacific Song Book" (1965), "Songs of the Great American West" (1967) and, with Fred Silber, "Folksinger's Wordbook." He also wrote "Press Box Red" (2003), a biography of Lester Rodney, the sports editor of The Daily Worker.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: GUEST,Mindy Blaski MD
Date: 12 Sep 10 - 07:06 PM

Irwin was a really sharp thinker and his political work with the Guardian and other organizations on the Left was inspiring to many of us. He taught us much more than "square dancing". He made important intellectual contributions to the left for many decades. His wonderful collection of protest songs inspired many! He will be missed by many!


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Subject: obit: Irwin Silber
From: GUEST,lompocan
Date: 13 Sep 10 - 03:30 PM

From the LA Times.

I think this is the intended link: L.A. Times: Irwin Silber dies at 84; editor of folk journal Sing Out! --Mod


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Subject: RE: Obit: Irwin Silber (17 Oct 1925-8 Sept 2010)
From: Ed Brown
Date: 20 Sep 10 - 08:00 AM

An appropriate memorial might be for all of us to be sure to renew our subscriptions to SingOut! (or start subscribing; it continues to have great coverage of the folk music scene). These are tough times for all publications and it would be a shame to lose SingOut!.


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