Boomers — American I-Dull
American I-Dull (or the night that Robert Zimmerman cried)

By Bruce Bressack

Were you there the night that Robert Zimmerman cried?

Did you see the tears welling up in his eyes when Simon [like a pit bull on Prozac] asked him what it was really like to work on Maggie’s Farm (and why he won’t work there no more) or if his boots were really made of Spanish Leather

One can only imagine a young, unwashed and cocky Robert Zimmerman driving from Hibbing, MN, to Los Angeles to try out for the American Idol show.

Armed with a beat-up guitar, an arsenal of songs, and a driving ambition to change the world, Robert was surely on his way to stardom.   No one could deny his talent, or so he believed.  But then, there was Simon!

As I remember it, Robert slowly entered the bleak, humorless try-out room and was stopped before he could strap on his guitar.

“Sorry Mr. Zimmerman, you have to sing Acappella”.

Robert had never sung Acappella before and knew in his heart that his songs wouldn’t sound quite the same without his guitar, but he gave in and began singing.

At first, Simon’s remarks were fairly harmless, the type of remarks meant to bring laughter, joy, and euphoria to a national audience.

But then, out came the daggers (and the ‘helpful criticism’).

“Mr. Zimmerman, you can’t sing, you’re too wordy, your songs are too deep, and you don’t look a bit like a Pop Star.  I don’t think you should even be allowed out in public.  However, I do agree with one thing you’ve said, the times they are a changing,  but they ain’t gonna be achangin’ for you.” 

Laughter filled the room……which stung Robert to the core, but he clung to the hope that Paula would feel differently about his music.

“Robert, if I may call you Robert, if you want radio play, your songs have to be exactly three minutes long.  I’d suggest cutting three or four verses from Like a Rolling Stone. It doesn’t matter which ones you cut out, no one really listens to the words anyway.  Oh, and could you speed the beat up a bit?  It’s really hard to dance to!” 

Well, Robert wasn’t quite sure what to think about Paula’s comments.  He knew that all the verses in his song were important, but, who was he to question the ‘wisdom-of-Paula’.  Maybe Randy would have a different take?

Randy perked up and piped in, “If you want to make it in this business you need to smile more. What are you so angry about?  Write happy songs, and remember the world’s a beautiful place on Ritalin”.

Robert saw this as the beginning of the end.  He decided then and there to end his music career and went on to become an executive at McDonald's.  Thank goodness he did or today we wouldn’t have “Super Size” fries.

That’s right, everyone else wanted to call them “Really Big" fries, but Robert was the one that came up with the name “Super Size” (and, as you know, the world is a far, far better place for it).

But seriously folks - Robert Zimmerman (better known as Bob Dylan), never listened to other people….especially the critics.  Nothing could, or did, stop him from writing what was on his mind or what was in his heart.

He would’ve told Simon where to go (and how to get there)!  And Simon would have listened.  That’s how powerful and persuasive Dylan was as a young man.

The moral of the story – Listen to the lyrics; they really are important.  Trust your heart; your heart will never fail you. 

And always, always, always “Super Size”!

—Bruce Bressack

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