The Real American Idol

Well, it’s the day after the season finale of American Idol and Kris Somebody is the winner. Good for him. But if you’re like me, being semi-conscious in America the morning after an American Idol finale is a lot like living through the day after the Super Bowl when all you care about is checking cricket scores. Impossibly frustrating. I love music but I hate the celebrity and drama that surrounds it on the show.

No one can say for sure what the future of this most recent American Idol will be, or whether he will do something significant to merit that audacious title, but we can now look back at the birth of a true idol. Christie’s announced today that it is auctioning off one of the earliest known poems by Bob Dylan, written when he was just 16 years old at summer camp.

The poem, titled “Little Buddy,” is credited to Bobby Zimmerman and tells the sad tale of a boy’s dog that gets beaten to death by an angry drunk. "He was such a lovely doggy/ And to me he was such fun/ But today as we played by the way/ A drunken man got mad at him/ Because he barked in joy/ He beat him and he's dying here today."

Even Zimmerman’s work couldn’t escape charges that he lifted words from someone else, charges that still plague some of Dylan’s later songs. This time, he adapted the lyrics of an old Hank Snow song. In any case, the lyrics aren’t exactly as complex and nuanced as With God is On Our Side, although the lyrics to that song are also being auctioned off at Christies.

Maybe the lesson here is that the best musicians are the ones that come out of humble beginnings rather than the glitz and glam of a TV contest broadcast live to a hundred million people.