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kevin_avery wrote
on September 15th, 2010 at 09:20 pm

Irwin Silber (1925-2010)

Irwin Silber, Paul Nelson's editor and ofttimes nemesis at Sing Out! magazine, passed away one week ago today. He was eighty-four.

Irwin Silber in 1991

Before Paul resigned from the magazine, he wrote his now legendary defense of Bob Dylan going electric. In that same November 1965 issue of Sing Out!, Silber countered with his own piece, "An Open Letter to Bob Dylan," stating, in part: "I saw at Newport how you had somehow lost contact with people. It seemed to me that some of the paraphernalia of fame were getting in your way."

While Paul always claimed that his resignation from Sing Out! was fueled by the old folk guard's violent reaction to Dylan at Newport, his leaving, as with all of Paul's departures, was much more complicated than that. Still, Paul always maintained that he'd had to sneak his pro-electric Dylan into print. When Richie Unterberger asked Silber about this in a 2002 interview, Silber replied: "I don't recall exactly, but I was the editor. And I knew his opinion. And I think I asked him to write it. I wrote one piece, and he wrote another. And it wouldn't have gone in if I didn't say okay [chuckles]. I think Paul said he wanted to write an alternate opinion. I was always for controversy, and it didn't make any difference if it was directed against me or not. So I can't swear that that's exactly the way it happened, but he didn't have a problem getting it into Sing Out!"

William MacAdams, who co-wrote 701 Toughest Movie Trivia Questions with Paul, remembers going to a film screening with him one afternoon in the early Seventies, when Paul was working in A&R at Mercury Records. When they came out of the theater, Paul spotted Irwin Silber, who'd also been in attendance. "Mercury had sent two limos to pick up some talent that didn't show, so we were going to go off somewhere to eat in one of the limos. Paul, however, knowing Silber was standing behind us watching, told me to take one of the limos while he got in the other alone."

Copyright 2010 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.



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