For almost 30 years, singer-songwriter Roy Zimmerman has performed original satirical songs about hot button issues like creationism, same-sex marriage, guns, war, greed and being Republican. (Just kidding about Republicans as literally two of my best friends are of that “persuasion.”)
Given Roy’s innate charm, some in the GOP might actually enjoy laughing at their foibles, although I don’t think that would include the crabby Grover Norquist or John McCain. (Back to Roy, there’s no truth to the rumor that his last name was Dylan and he changed it to Zimmerman.)
Before moving north, Roy lived in the Palisades for 25 years. When his sons, Joe and Sam, were young, he worried about the world they’d grow up in. “I wanted to give them literature, music, wisdom, peace and social justice. And all they wanted was an Xbox.” Go figure.
Well, Sam and Joe are now 22 and 21 and doing great, which is more than I can say for the world. This is why Roy, whose boyish looks are reminiscent of John Denver (if Denver had been in the Weather Underground), travels the country spreading his music and humor like a modern-day Johnny Appleseed. (Substitute political parodies for apples?)
The good news is Saturday night Roy’s appearing in our neighborhood with his “PeaceNick” Christmas show. (The bad news is I just referred to Johnny Appleseed like he was real.)
Fortunately for Roy he has invaluable help from Melanie Harby, his wife of 27 years and collaborator in songs and children. (Although in giving birth I’d say the man is more the collaborator.) During this just past election year the two have spent almost as much time on the road as in their Marin County home.
During this crucial election year, Roy played at over 150 events at colleges, union halls, protest rallies and even the occasional living room. The couple travels with their beloved Chihuahua, Herbie, and stay in motels; not exactly the glamorous touring lifestyle of say the Rolling Stones.
But the two have a ball as Roy entertains appreciative audiences, especially those trapped in the red states where many of their neighbors believe Earth is 6,000 years old and that man and dinosaur co-existed. (Which I suppose would make “The Flintstones” a documentary.)
In 12 albums and on stages, screens and airwaves across America, Roy has tirelessly lobbied for social justice. “If we ever attain a worldwide consciousness of peace I’ll be happily out of a job. But as long as there’s poverty, war, bigotry, ignorance and greed, I’ve got a career.”
With his “Starving Ear” channel on YouTube, Roy is also easily accessible on the Internet. (Though not quite as ubiquitous as Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” the appeal of which I’m still trying to decipher.)
So go to YouTube and type “Roy Zimmerman.” There are a dozen or more raucously funny numbers, some of which have over 1 million hits. (And yes, I realize “Gangnam Style” is approaching 1 billion, which, quite frankly, I find deeply disturbing.)
My favorites of Roy’s songs are “Creation Science101,” “Sing Along Second Amendment,” “Limbaugh (How Low Will you Go?),” “Buddy Can You Spare a Trillion Dollars?” “Bill O’Reilly’s Christmas,” and “What if the Beatles Were Irish?”
Among Roy’s legion of devoted fans (how many make a legion?) are two music icons, Tom Lehrer and Joni Mitchell. Lehrer is also an American singer-songwriter and satirist, only he plays the piano, whereas Roy’s weapons of choice are his rapier wit and guitar.
A mathematician, a reluctant Lehrer reached national fame with his comedy records in the 1950s and 1960s and then abruptly retired from show business to teach at M.I.T. (As Bill Maher might joke, “My old job.”)
Lehrer gives Roy high praise for “reintroducing literacy to comedy songs, and the rhymes actually rhyme, they don’t just ‘rhyne.’” The legendary Mitchell said of Roy, “His lyrics move beyond poetry and achieve perfection.” (One word: wow!)
Though I’m not quite in Lehrer or Mitchell’s league, I say it’d be a shame to miss the wit and infectious humor of Roy’s “PeaceNick” Christmas Show. Among the featured songs are: “Christa-Hanu-Rama-Ka-Dona-Kwanzaa,” “Christmas on Mars,” “When a Child is Born,” and “Christmas is Pain,” all of which are on YouTube.
By the way, Wikipedia says a legion varied from 4,500 to 6,000. In that case Roy has legions of legions of fans. If you catch his act Saturday night my guess is you’re likely to be one of them.
In conjunction with Parlor Performances, Roy Zimmerman’s “PeaceNick” Christmas 90-minute show plays Saturday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at the Cornerstone Music Conservatory, 12121 W. Pico Blvd. For more info call Jeannine Frank at (310) 476 6735. Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.