Kathy Zimmer

Kathy Zimmer

 New York City, New York, USA

Kathy Zimmer has been called a "latter day Joan Baez" (Rock n Reel), the "adopted daughter of Joni Mitchell" (Cleveland Scene), "a break-out artist" (ObscureSound.com) and "one of the fop new artists of 2009" (RootsMusicReport.com).


If sophistication and open-hearted goodwill could combine into a sound, what would it be? Enter Kathy Zimmer, a New York City singer/songwriter sporting a richly wistful set of pipes and speaking the language of shell-shocked wildflowers. If you’re looking in earnest for something new, this is it.

There is an essence of burnished class that exudes from Kathy’s voice—think of it in Great Gatsby terms: the money that’s in Kathy Zimmer’s voice is equal parts lost Spanish Armada treasure and rural American box social baked goods.

These two extremes are also present in the songs themselves—beautifully eloquent images fly by while the topics they describe are simple and basic; yes, you too have been there and experienced that… it’s just never before been summed up in quite this way.

Here’s a theory: Joni Mitchell is less jazz and more art song… as is Kathy Zimmer. The girl in the upstairs choir is originally from the rural Great Plains, and she sings to the world with a clear voice and a clear gaze.


In the Park with George

Written By: Kathy Zimmer

Today is April 10th of the year 2005
It’s Sunday, and I met in the park with George
We ate some Indian food, took a carousel ride
And talked like we were sitting on some back country porch

In the park, some people were laying in the sun
While others sought out the shade
Just like some people like to lay it all out on the line
And others keep under cover cause they’re just too afraid

I think you’re really beautiful and I might love you, you
And I think I might like to be with you
If you ever decided you wanted me to

George and I took off our shoes
And felt the new grass between our toes
We talked about the sky, and well-known strangers in the news
And our friends’ sex lives,
And secrets nobody else knows

I kissed him good-bye at about 4:00
And now it’s a quarter to 10
I just left him a message, he didn’t pick up
Told him a joke and wondered when I would see him again

Give me a look, show me a sign
I set my alarm clock to your time

c. Kathy Zimmer 2007


Written By: Kathy Zimmer

This city’s full of carnies and sharks
Brandishers of water guns, and little dogs with great big barks
Take to the street, you walk up and you walk down
Doling out dough to the homeless
And souls to the soulless
On tiptoe above the undertow
Pray that you don’t drown

You nod politely to all you meet
While you both follow the well-trod ruts of a million feet
That before you have carved up every floor
Till finally you’ve got nothing left
But some worn-out sandals on the back of the shelf
And an empty water gun
With which to wage your war, your dynamic war

Let me be your everything
(everything here I’ve got)
anything worth the giving
(and whatever’s left that’s not)

a big man once told me I had to pay my dues
stretch myself as thin as paper, like the kind they use for the news
he smoked a cigar and drank expensive wine
and I noticed on the day he died
he had less love in his life than I have in mine
so sir, I think I’m doing fine

I’ve got some magic beans to grow a building up to King Kong
He’s the one in love with that girl, the drop-dead gorgeous blonde
Got to get up to someplace where I can dangle my feet
And get some perspective on those millions of lives
That stop and go and clog up the street
Cause someday we might meet

c. 2007 Kathy Zimmer

Arms Crossed

Written By: Kathy Zimmer

If it were winter I’d build a wall of snow
Blockade you out of sight and mind,
Shield from the ice you throw
I’d lie alone in the shape of an angel flying

On Election Day I’d draw the curtain closed
Choose every name that wasn’t you,
I’d go right down the row
My intuition knows as my suspicion grows
It’s each one for his own

And I’m not gonna do this anymore

At your equator I now wear sunblock every day
I refuse to worship you when all I’ll do is age
No more rose-colored shades
At the break of day I’ll go my own way

Copyright 2007 Kathy Zimmer

Whatever Gets U Thru the Day

Written By: Kathy Zimmer

Like a junkie needs the needle
And a gravedigger needs some sun
Like a daughter needs her daddy
And dogs need space to run
Baby, it’s you

Like a sneaker needs the pavement
And a farmer smells fresh earth
Like a rock star needs applause
And a wistful housewife needs to know her worth,
Baby, it’s you
Like pop culture needs something new
Baby, it’s you.

Like a cowboy feels his freedom
And a hipster needs his thrills
Like New Yorkers need their pace
And a murderer needs his kills
Baby, it’s you

Like the middle child needs attention
And Thomas Edison listened for a voice
Like an orphan longs to belong
And a business man loves his invoice
Baby, it’s you
Kentucky rain needs eyes of blue
Baby, it’s you

Like the Earth needs Mars
Like a prison warden needs his bars
And the paparazzi need their stars

Like Rapunzel needs her braids
And an impulse shopper needs money today
Like a war-weary soldier longs for peace
And a death row Atheist starts to pray,
like a songbird drinks morning dew
baby, it’s you.

c. Kathy Zimmer 2007

My Friend to the End

Written By: Kathy Zimmer

To me you’re like a hummingbird on the end of a tin can phone
You send me happy vibrations, I feel I’m never alone
When it’s cold outside you make Jack Frost designs on my window,
Show the beauty in my pain
When there’s a terrible heat spell, cracks the earth and dries the well,
You stand by and assure me there’ll be rain

My friend to the end

To me you’re like a Jack o’lantern with the light from your pirate smile
Think I could waste a lifetime or two just shooting the breeze with you awhile
You’re a black magic book of spells with a hex for all my grudges, right or wrong
Back me up even if I’ve backed into a corner
Sew on my shadow when all the fairy dust is gone

My friend to the end

While the locket round my neck is empty, you’ve lent me your picture
Just to fill up the space
Give me your coat and your last pair of shoes
And your couch to crash on if I needed a place
I’d lay in your hands my beating heart, you’d protect it as your own
I realize you’re part of my fingerprint now
I know that I’m never alone

My friend to the end
connect the current
this circle
our arms extend
travel round again
and find my friend

c. Kathy Zimmer 2007

On My Way to You

Written By: Kathy Zimmer

On my way to you, I walked through it all,
And all of it fell at my feet
There was mud, blood and beer, and tall tales to tell,
But never my match did I meet

I turned cartwheels like crackerjacks through silent, stunned guns,
Through blood-stained battlefields I’d run
I voted with confidence at stuffed ballot boxes
Powered my smile with the sun

Through rows of bobbing and whispering heads
Like wheatfields in the wind, I passed through,
And through rows of subway statues, like Stonehenge,
Who could’ve cared less what I would do

I ran with bare feet and never was cut
I danced with criminals and never was touched
I played without vengeance, but revenge came to me
And I kissed morning dew and fell fast asleep

On my way to you, I walked through it all
And all of it fell at my feet
I saw visions of god in most passers-by,
Played cards with the devil when we would meet

I pondered upon a moth’s beating wings
And newborn butterflies from the cocoon
Oh to stretch out my arms and have flight fall from them
Oh to crawl from the mud to the moon

Though I’m cornflakes, I had breakfast with champs
Turned every corner onto streets that I knew
And on every street, shit was shaking down
I walked through it all on my way to you

67 Caliente

Written By: Kathy Zimmer

Hanging out on the diamonds in the distance
In my mind, I need a place to fly
All this riff-raff is wearing me down
Makes a worn-out smile wanna cry

Gimme white clouds and a clear bright highway
Tape deck in my car
I just wanna fly away awhile and leave these things right where they are

If I could find a little bit of nowhere
Somewhere where the grass isn’t planned
A place to hear what’s crashing in my head
Then I could sort it all out again

You hurt my heart, when did I let you in
Tripped the lock, dipped the key
How dare I slip and open up again
Well in this car it’s just me

Place Holder

Written By: Kathy Zimmer

He’s a place holder, a space taker
Keeping me occupied while time ticks by
Attention diverter, a bench warmer,
A past-time, like the movie playing while you fly

Just a strong shoulder, a mile marker
His face has lines when he laughs
A ticket taker, traveling salesman,
Less about the arts, more about the crafts

And I don’t care at all
I could so care less
I don’t care very much

He’s a quick fix, a fast patch
An off-brand, a one night stand
He’s just the base before home plate,
A backup plan, the opening band

If anything, it’s just a little crush

Fairy Tale

Written By: Kathy Zimmer

I’m a princess, I was born to a king
And a queen in a castle made of straw
The palace, it blew down, the wolves huffed and puffed all around,
But I’m still standing, my legs are sturdy like a brick wall

I’ve been in love since the beginning of my life
With a blind man who paints lines on the rising tide
I set myself before him, told him I loved him and I adored him
But he had to bide his time till the rest of his life arrived.

But I’m coming back, coming back, coming back for more
Yes, I’m coming back, coming back, time and before
I’m coming back, coming back, coming back for more
Coming back, coming back for more

So I packed up my poems and headed east
To find the beat police who made ideas from spit and air
I thought they’d save my soul, I gave them my arms but the rest they stole
And now I’m wiser, but the bones on my back are bare

They say elephants live long lives and always remember
I raise my glass to them in my efforts to forget


Written By: Kathy Zimmer

Wind chimes complain loudly
as they collide in the careless breeze
I shoot a disdainful look at a lady on the subway
as her shopping bag bumps my knees

We jostle and elbow and swindle and scramble
in any effort to get ahead
counting your pennies in desperation
will do strange things to your head

Wrap your scarf around tighter as the wind tries to pull it off
build around your heart a suit of armor when you decide you’ve been hurt enough
and you can’t even begin to shed your skin cause it’s now layered 10 feet deep
calluses protect the tender spots, that baby soft skin just doesn’t keep

I have calluses on my fingers from playing my guitar
but I’ll touch each string just the same, I remember where they are
I have calluses on my vocal cords from having to sing the blues
but blue’s the color of the earth from the moon
and baby soft blue suede shoes

Squint your eyes as the train whistle shrieks
but don’t plug your ears out of pride
don’t let on that that sound so bleak of the singing from the street man
makes you curl up and quake deep inside

You need to breathe, breathe, breathe in to make a sound
but the choke hold on your neck makes it hard to find air
and even if you could say what you needed
if no one were listening, would there be anything to hear?

I have calluses on my fingers from playing my guitar
but I’ll touch each string just the same, I remember where they are
I have calluses on my vocal cords from having to sing the blues
but blue’s the color of the earth from the moon
and baby soft blue suede shoes


The Opening Band--released Nov. 12, 2010. Contains tracks "Fairy Tale", "On My Way to You", "67 Caliente", "Place Holder" and "Winter".

Spare Key--EP released September 2007. Contains tracks "In the Park with George", "My Friend to the End", "Arms Crossed", "Summer", "All I Need" and "Whatever Gets U Thru the Day"

dreamin'--EP released March 2005, contains tracks "Gospel Book," "Winter," "Holy Terror" and "St. Patrick"

Under Your Spell--LP released June 2003. Includes "If I Could".

Set List

varies according to show.