Roy Zimmerman

In the early 1990’s, I was a third of a folk/jazz/musical theater vocal trio preparing a concert for which we were seeking an acoustic guitarist. A friend recommended a singer/songwriter by the name of Roy Zimmerman. From the day he joined us we were completely taken with him. Funny (isn’t a sense of humor the most attractive thing about anyone??), an incredible musician, upbeat….and THEN we heard his original music! I became the ‘tenor’ in his folk group THE FOREMEN (fullfilling a dream – singing folk music with inventive writers and musicians) and lived the dream until a long term job in theater took me away. THE FOREMEN went on to record for Warner Brothers!  Today, Roy tours the United States as a solo performer in what he calls ‘Live …from the Starving Ear’ all the while wracking up tens of thousands of ‘views’ on YouTube and strong sales of his many CD recordings. Visit to experience the breadth of his performing and recording life. There is a feeling I get when I attend a Roy Zimmerman concert – the closest translation of that feeling: ‘It’s going to be OK!’  Roy is here, writing and singing with great passion, wit, intelligence and musicality in an evening presenting a thinking AND feeling man’s ‘take’ on the current political and personal landscape. Often he will end a concert with his ‘I Approve This Message’ – all I need to hear are the first few chords and I start to cry. To quote Randy Newman, ‘feels like home to me’.
What does the word ‘retirement’ mean to you? Will you? How would you like it to look?
The thought of retirement, in the conventional sense, is anathema to me.  How does the world rhyme and meter?  That’s how I think, and I’ll never stop thinking that way.  Someday, I would like to think that way in a comfortable place with lots of free time and financial security.
Dividing your life into decades: for each decade tell me a self  ‘defining’ story.
50’s – Sputnik launched.  I “cleaned” the kitchen floor with coffee grounds. 60’s – I longed to be fifty miles north in Haight-Ashbury to the chagrin of my parents.  My grandma was somehow hip to this, and gifted me with a silk nehru shirt that got me mercilessly teased at school. 70’s – I won a bet with my best high school friend that Nixon would beat McGovern, but lost the $5 back to him a couple years later when I bet that Nixon would finish his term.  I wrote a funny song about Bill and Emily Harris. 80’s – I met Melanie, the love of my life.  Everything else pales in comparison, including Ronald Reagan. 90’s – I became a father.  Got signed to major label.  Met D.C. Anderson.  Sang a rocked out version of “Wimoweh” around the piano while Brian Wilson pounded out the chords. 00’s – I toured the country hard-scrabble like a twenty-year-old.  Threw grapes at the television whenever Bush or Cheney were talking.
Why does a song survive? Give me an example of a song that has survived at least four decades and why that particular song?
Often, when I sit down at a piano, my fingers go to “Walk On By.”  Honestly, sing that song to yourself, and stop just before the chorus.  Where does that note on “walk” come from? Bacharach had that amazing facility of creating something which was at once wildly inventive and instantly familiar.
Is there a high school/college course that seemed useless to you at the time but for which you are grateful today?
PE seemed useless always.  Now however, I look back on the day in 1973 when Coach Roach said, “Gentlemen, the penis is not a bone” and I’m thankful.
In today’s Facebook ‘Humans of New York’ there was a photograph of an elderly woman holding up a picture of her late husband and herself on the day of their wedding. She was quoted as saying, ‘When my husband was dying I said, ‘How am I going to live without you?’. He replied, ‘Take the love you have for me and spread it around.’     Whose love are you spreading around?
Every song I write is a love song to Melanie.
Find a map. Close your eyes and put your finger down on it. What is the name of the closest city to your finger.
West Whittier, CA.  ‘Course, it’s a map of Whittier (and Pico Rivera).
Have you ever owned a cactus?
I have a fear of commitment, so I’ve always rented.
Do you keep a journal/diary? Do you ever spend time reading past entries? Do you recall an entry that surprised you when reading it later?
I do not keep a diary.  These answer are the most revealing thing I’ve written in a long time.
Have you ever named anything other than a human or animal? What was it and what did you name it and why?
We’ve always named our cars.  Betty was our Ford.  Bob was my Volkswagon bus, because when I first pressed on the squeaky brake pedal, it went, “Bob!’  Our current Dodge Caravan Sport lost a “T” in an encounter with a parking garage, so it’s called “Spore.”
Do you play cards? Favorite card game and why?
I enjoy Hearts because, as anyone who knows me will attest, I’m all about Shooting the Moon.