Friday, May 19, 2017
Paul Williams On Starting Crawdaddy! The Magazine Of Rock In 1966
Sleeping in Van Cortland Park, running wild with wild newfound friends on the winter beach at night at Coney Island. New York people, the ones I met, were crazier and freer, because of the all-night subways, and whatever, so many young people in a world of their own, it was a place were you didn't have to go back to your dorm or your mother.
And it was a place where you could do things. It was in New York that I started my magazine.
I was bored y'know, like the man says, bored and restless and lonely, I couldn't do the schoolwork or get it on with the Swarthmore scene, and it made me feel very insecure, Id build myself up from terrible inversion with people in seventh grade to a certain self-confidence & reluctant fluidity based completely on my output, the high school extracurriculars and the science fiction magazine I published on the side and so forth, the stuff I was doing made me feel sure of myself which in turn made it possible for me to run with, have fun with, other people. Which reached a peak in the fall of my senior year, I was accomplishing things left and right, I had the respect of the young women I worked with in the dramatics club and then even the attention of a few of them, I was writing a lot and I even tried briefly to study guitar, a whirlwind of energy and though still shy inside I hardly had time to notice -- and then there I was in college, at Swarthmore, unable to open a book or even write a story for the newspaper, hanging out, doing nothing... Doing nothing! A total disaster for one whose ability to function in the world was based solely on his pride in the things he was doing, I needed desperately many things including that holding and being held but most of all I needed something to do, my inability to do anything at college was bringing me face to face with the most horrible self-doubt I have ever experienced.
So finally when the idea came or came back to start a magazine about this rock music I was so in love with, arriving in my head complete with a plan as to just exactly how I could do it and what to do first and what would happen, it was a godsend -- a tremendous gift of energy -- my salvation.
And it married me to New York -- though I didn't consummate the marriage and move there till much later, eleven months later, December of 1966 -- because that was where the rock music business was on the East Coast, that was the place I needed to go simply to do the very first thing, which was obtain some new records so i could review them.
I conceived of the magazine as a weekly, believe it or not, which would review new albums but especially singles, intelligently rather than with the usual hype, as a service both to music lovers and the music business. I knew about the trade magazines, had been into them since I started listening to rock a year earlier (and even in the sixth grade I'd been addicted to top-40 lists, actually bicycling into Belmont Center the hour that I knew the sheets would arrive in the local record store because I couldn't wait to see what the positions would be this week, I was a pest, a fanatic), but I felt the trade magazines were inadequate because -- just like the "fan" magazines from eh opposite side -- they didn't take the music seriously. I knew that the earnestness which my friends and I felt wasn't being expressed in print.
And something else -- it wasn't just love for the music -- I wanted to start a magazine. And I'd read in a "fanzine", an amateur publication from the science fiction underworld, an article by James Warren, publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland and Help! , in which he talked about how to start a magazine; he said that what you need most of all is a subject that a lot of people are into that nobody is doing a magazine about. I read that & I believed it & even mentioned to some people in Cambridge in the summer of 1965 before I went to Swarthmore, when a folk music paper called Broadside was the best-read publication in town, that somebody ought to start a magazine about rock n' roll. I couldn't do it 'cause I was about to go off to college and get involved in that, but whoever did pick up the idea would meet with certain success.
And I forgot, and then got ever deeper into rock via the college radio station, and then was standing in the town of Swarthmore, a tiny commercial district beyond the great lawn of the college, standing in a drugstore reading a story about the Yardbirds in a fan magazine and when I read that both they and the Rolling Stones had got their start in a club in Richmond, England called the Crawdaddy Club it just hit me out of nowhere that that would be the name of the magazine and I could do the first issue in New York during the four-day intersession after exams and mimeo it at Ted's (Ted White a jazz music journalist and science fiction fan-clb) house and then.... I paid for the fan mag and walked back across the tracks to the campus very excited and completely lost in a truly enormous daydream.
Paul Williams, Heart of Gold, published 1991
Today, May 19th is writer Paul S Williams birthday.
He was born in 1948 and died in 2013.
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