What's wrong with Robert Zimmerman?

Robert Alexander
Author of such excellent novels as The Kitchen Boy, Rasputin's Daugther and The Romanav Bride, student and expert of all things Russian, excellent storyteller and all-around funny guy.

Given name: Robert Zimmerman

Bob Dylan
Singer/songwriter born in my hometown, perhaps best known for his song "Like a Rolling Stone," fan of poet Robert Burns and American icon.

Given name: Robert Zimmerman

What gives? What are all these (oh, okay...only both of these) Robert Zimmermans giving up their names?

For Robert Alexander, he had published mysteries under his own name, and when he wrote literary fiction his publisher told him he needed a new name. Alexander is a family name, and has the added benefit of moving his books up to the beginning of the alphabet. Placement on the shelves can make a difference in terms of sales and circulation!

With Bob Dylan, he took the new last name from the poet Dylan Thomas, apparently because he was simply born with the wrong name. Stuff happens.

I think Robert Zimmerman is a perfectly lovely name, but, in the end I'm glad they both changed their names. I would be referring to the author, not the musician, in the majority of my conversations, and their both changing their names saves a lot of confusion and explanation on my part. So, thanks guys.

A short informal poll let me realize that everyone who knew Robert Alexander or Bob Dylan knew the name Robert Zimmerman. Why the blog post on this now? I found about about this on Sunday and Thursday of this week respectively.

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