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(Credit: Alamy)


Paul Simon's reaction to Bob Dylan using a stage name


Throughout history, countless artists have opted to change their name for the spotlight. In fact, it’s extraordinarily common to employ a stage name when entering the entertainment industry. However, not everybody is privy to this. Namely, Paul Simon goes by his real name, both first and last. So it’s no wonder why I was so surprised to find out that Bob Dylan is a user of an alias.

When discussing the origins of Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Simon mused, “Our name is honest. I think if we ever lie, they’re going to catch us.” However, it’s clear that not everybody feels this way about their name. Bob Dylan has made it clear that he doesn’t think about his name either way, although he did adopt the surname ‘Dylan’ after the poet Dylan Thomas. He even legally changed his name to Bob Dylan while he was living in New York, further cementing the identity he made a point to carve out for himself.

However, as far as Paul Simon goes, he maintains that it’s somewhat surprising that Dylan thought to use a stage name at all. He told The New Yorker: “I always thought it was a big shock to people when Bob Dylan’s name turned out to be Bob Zimmerman. It was so important to people that he should be true. You have to be vulnerable. Then people can see you laid out, and they don’t hit, and they know you won’t hit them.”

Regardless, it’s clear that Simon has always held Bob Dylan in high esteem. He’s said before, “He was, really, the great lyricist of the ’60s and deserved all his praise.”

Of course, it makes sense that one might find it surprising that Bob Dylan had changed his name, simply because he had such a strong identity with his image. Additionally, Bob Dylan sounds like a spectacularly normal name to the point that it doesn’t strike you as something that would be made up. But again, that’s the point. He chose it to sound rustic, and—dare we say—ordinary, and it seems that he got his wish.

So, what was his real given name? You must be wondering. It was Robert Allen Zimmerman, of course. Still a pretty cool name if you ask me.