We here at Sing Out! are very pleased to be able to offer a complete collection of Broadside Magazine here for our members and readers to access. While a completely separate entity during our respective publishing histories, Broadside was something of a sister publication to Sing Out!, featuring many of the same songwriters and sharing a philosophy that politics and the people’s music are inexorably tied together. Broadside, however, took a much more direct path in positioning itself as resource for activists … both for the songwriters who focused on political songs AND for the politically-minded who learned and sang these songs. As stated on front page of its very 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.”
Thanks, much, to Norman Ross who served as a protector and archivist for this material for a long time. It’s with his support that we are able to share this material here.
A History of Broadside Magazine
Hugely influential during the folk-revival, Broadside Magazine was founded in 1962 by Agnes “Sis” Cunningham and her husband, Gordon Friesen, as a small mimeographed publication. The magazine reflected the times. It was often controversial, even inspiring questions during one of Bob Dylan’s many news conferences (as seen in the Martin Scorcese’s 2005 documentary on Dylan). Throughout its tenure, Broadside nurtured and promoted many of the most important political singer-songwriters of the era.
By the end of the 1970s, however, Broadside had almost ceased publication … until it was revived in 1982 by Norman Ross, President of Clearwater Publishing (a publisher of microfilms and reference books) and Jeff Ritter, a musician and folklorist.
Broadside in the 1980s, published by Ross and edited by Ritter, continued to cover the political movements and songwriters of this new era … including: Arlo Guthrie, Billy Bragg, Charlie King, Holly Near and many, many more.
Ross and Ritter published 35 issues of the revitalized Broadside, when Sis Cunningham asked to return to its helm. She published the final five issues, and then the magazine ceased publication for good. Microfiche of the entire collection of Broadside was made available to libraries by Ross’ publishing company, and can be purchased from ProQuest.com.
Dozens of the songs recorded for Broadside, or which were published in the magazine over its lifetime, were released by Folkways/Smithsonian Records in 2000 as The Best of Broadside in a 5-CD boxed set. Approximately half a dozen other discs, originally issued on vinyl by Folkways Records on a special Broadside Label are also available from Folkways/Smithsonian.
Issues & Indexes
Click the links for a library of complete run of Broadside (and indexes):
| Issues (123-146) | Issues (147-170) | Issues (171-186) | INDEXES |