Everyone can root for an Everyman like Robert Bidney, a guy balancing a respectable day job with a dream that seems just out of reach.
For Bidney, who works in the advertising department of Office Depot's corporate headquarters in Boca Raton, the dream was a music career, standing on a stage playing songs he had written and collected on an album that he could put in people's hands.
One day in February, Bidney, 60, a Cooper City resident with a wife and two 20-something kids, decided the dream couldn't wait. He went for it.
"I decided that this year, after supporting my family and raising my children all this time and giving them virtually everything I have," Bidney says, breaking into a hearty laugh, "that I was going to finally put out my first album."
The result is "It's All About the Love," an eclectic collection of universal meditations on love, harmony and the things that threaten them, told in a confidently unadorned lyrical style that only an experienced songrwiter would attempt. The album will be celebrated Friday night at a release party at Your Big Picture Café in Davie.
Once Bidney set his goal, things went quickly. Seeking a producer, he asked around the local songwriting community and enlisted one of the best, former South Florida musician Fernando Perdomo, who took Bidney's vocal, guitar and piano tracks and recorded the album remotely from his Reseda Ranch Studios near Los Angeles. Less than six months later, with local help from Zach Ziskin (mastering) and Steve Chumley (vocal tracking), he had an album.
"It was a wonderful marriage. I tried one song out with [Perdomo] and it was amazing. He just gets it," says Bidney, who counts among his role models Graham Nash, Davis Crosby, Burt Bacharach and Leon Russell, who is remembered with a tribute song, "Thank You, Leon."
Success was not always so direct for Bidney.
He started playing music while at Florida State and in the years after his graduation in 1976. While he got some songs recorded by other artists, he said it was "very difficult" to make ends meet, and he gravitated into advertising.
Bidney did jingles for clients including Sports Authority, PetSmart, Swim 'n Sport and Levitz Furniture. He also worked with the agency that created the "Taking Care of Business" campaign for Office Depot, working on various iterations of the Bachman Turner Overdrive song with its author Randy Bachman, who remains a friend.
But the recession of the 2000s "slammed" Bidney hard: He was unemployed in 2007-2010, when he "lost almost everything."
It is a period that Bidney has turned into art, "Pill for Poverty," a song on the album that begins: "They got a pill / When you feel depressed. / They got a pill / When there's heartburn in your chest. / They got a pill / To heal most anything … / I need a pill for poverty / Living a life that's killing me / I need a job / Gotta feed my family / I need a pill, give me a pill…"
Bidney, a man of warmth and an easy laugh, made it through that bleak period with his humanity intact, a theme reflected in the title of the album, which comes from a song written as an antidote, he says, to the period of violence and hate-mongering symbolized by Trayvon Martin and the Charleston church shootings. "When pushin' comes to shovin'," he sings, "You can rise above. It's all about the love."
"I'm an eternal optimist," he says. "I just believe things are going to turn out."
Robert Bidney performs 8-11 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Your Big Picture Cafe , 5935 S. University Drive, Davie. The evening will include a set by Fernando Perdomo. Admission: Free. Call 954- 252-5644 , or visit YourBigPictureCafe.com; RobertBidney.com.