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September 8: Irwin Silber and Sing-Out!

September 7, 2016

shapeimage_2-1Marxist writer, editor, and mostly pro-communist theoretician Irwin Silber, long-time editor and co-founder (with Pete Seeger, shown with Silber at right) of Sing-Out! magazine, died at 84 on this date in 2010. As founder of Paredon Records (with his wife, folksinger Barbara Dane) and (with Moses Asch) of Oak Publications, as well as through Sing-Out!, Silber became a major influence upon the folk music revival of the 1950 and ’60s. He was editor of the weekly National Guardian newspaper for seven years, 1972-79, when it served as a hub of the Marxist student movement of the 1970s and the pro-Maoist New Communist Movement. Silber left the paper to create what he called a “party building formation” that published Frontline and Line of March. His books included Socialism: What Went Wrong, about the collapse of Soviet communism, and Press Box Red, a book about leftwing sportswriter Lester Rodney, who helped sparkplug the integration of Major League Baseball. Silber also compiled some dozen collections of folksongs, workers’ songs, revolutionary songs, and other tunes of popular culture.

“Silber was instrumental in establishing Oak Publications with Moses Asch, the owner of Folkways Records . . . More than 100 titles –- including the songs of Seeger and Guthrie, Negro songs from Alabama, and instrumental instruction booklets - were published in an eight-year period before Asch and Silber sold the company in 1967.” --Derek Schofield, The Guardian