On Thursday evening, I boarded a bus that would eventually put me at a four-hour long Bruce Springsteen concert – just two days after seeing a just under four-hour Bruce Springsteen concert. (One note about this: It really is amazing to see. Bruce has had a reputation for long shows, but these are two of his longest of all time. He doesn’t take any breaks. He doesn’t even leave the stage for the encores. It defies all logic for a guy turning 67 next month, but here we are.) But the length of this particular show, or Springsteen in general, is not the point of any of this. (To be fair, there’s probably not much of a point at all. Hey, it’s Friday.)
Probably my favorite thing about seeing Springsteen (well, other than the show) are the characters you meet along the way. To get from New York City out across the Hudson to Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, there’s a fairly efficient shuttle bus service that runs from the Port Authority (which really is a dreadful place) to the stadium. On Thursday, I would be on this shuttle bus along with a friend of mine who was experiencing his first Springsteen show. As we left the Port Authority, things seemed normal.
In front of us sat a nice-enough, talkative man from Danbury, Connecticut who has seen Bruce Springsteen 138 times. (I know he’s from Danbury, Connecticut because every story he told included Danbury. I am now aware that Danbury, Connecticut could use some rain. I hope they get it.) Again, I want to stress that this seemed like a very nice man and I found his stories amusing – one of them involved how he was taking acting classes, including the exact location where these classes take place – but it was a little bewildering why he was telling these stories to really no one in particular. (There was a man sitting to this man’s left who got the brunt of these stories, but these two gentlemen did not come together.)
But then something magical happened. Like, seriously: pure magic. You have to understand, He was telling story after story about harmless nonsense. Again, fine. But then, after all of those, he says these magical words: “Have you ever heard of a comedian named Rodney Dangerfield?”
First of all, I love that he asked no one in particular if they had ever heard of one of the most famous comedians of the last 50 years. As if someone might answer back in that polite, “Hmmm, the name rings a bell, but I can’t place it,” kind of way. Anyway, he then somehow managed to say something even more magical: “I wrote a song for him called “Rappin’ Rodney.” (It’s at this point that my friend and myself looked at each other with jaw-dropping glee. I mean, seriously, this guy buried the lede. He really should start leading off with this story.)
In 1983, at the height of the music video craze, Rodney Dangerfield released a song called “Rappin’ Rodney” – a title that’s a little misleading because Rodney Dangerfield doesn’t really rap much in the song. Instead, it’s Rodney Dangerfield delivering one liners as a chorus behind him chants Dangerfield’s catchphrase, “No respect. No respect.” I honestly haven’t seen this video since it was released. In the story, Dangerfield is put on trial, sent to prison, executed by Pat Benatar (this is real), then goes to heaven where he still doesn’t get any respect. Then we find out it’s all been a nightmare. Yes.