February 1962: Broadside magazine

The tiny, influential magazine is first published. From the "Music of Social Change" project at Emory University: "Broadside was founded in 1962 by Sis Cunningham and Gordon Friessen in the wake of McCarthyism. It emerged as a creative outlet for composers who were writing 'topical songs,' or music that comments on current issues, and provided a rare forum through which these songwriters could publicize and circulate their materials. Based in New York City, the publication largely featured protest and 'agit-prop' (agitation-propaganda) songs, including many compositions written in the response to the increasingly violent scenes of the civil rights movement. Broadside was published with an old mimeograph machine, lending it a homespun appearance that belies its power influence on American music."

The first issue included the words to "Talking John Birch" by Bob Dylan; the song is better known as "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues."

The magazine's mission statement, also from the first issue:

Topical songs have been an important part of America's music since early Colonial days. Many people throughout the country today are writing topical songs, and the only way to find out if a song is good is to give it wide circulation and let the singers and listeners decide for themselves. BROADSIDE's aim is not so much to select and decide as to circulate as many songs as possible and get them out as quickly as possible. Our schedule calls for twice-a-month publication -- this will depend mainly on the contributing songwriters. BROADSIDE may never publish a song that could be called a "folk song." But let us remember that many of our best folk songs were topical songs at their inception. Few would deny the beauty and lasting value of some of Woody Guthrie's songs. Old or new, "a good song can only do good."

* Magazine's website: @
* First issue: @
* Back issues: @
* Index of artists: @
* Radio episode of "Sounds to Grow On" (from Smithsonian Folkways; click on Program #8): @
* "The Best of Broadside 1962-1998: Anthems of the American Underground from the Pages of Broadside Magazine" (2000 album): @

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