Eavesdropping

The Time Tony Bennett Stole $65 from Todd Snider

Nashville musician Todd Snider may be as well known for his storytelling as he is for his songs. So well known, in fact, that he has now complied some into his new book, "I Never Met a Story I Didn't Like: Mostly True Tall Tales." In this selection, he recalls one Tony Bennett nicking $65 from him.

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My wife agreed to let me buy an old car and I looked in the paper and I found a Oldsmobile 1964 convertible Rocket 88. The very first rock and roll song by Ike Turner was “Rocket 88.”

That car was in great shape. It’s not now. These days the top of the car won’t go up. I should say, it’s not a actually ‘convertible.’ It doesn’t convertible. I don’t even know what to call that.

One of my favorite things to do in the world is to wash it. So it was a beautiful day and I was at the car wash, power hosing the car, which I sincerely find relaxing, and right there, in that lovely moment, this guy comes walking toward me, either homeless or at least prone to sleeping outside. In a mildly intimidating matter he said “Hey, how about you give me a couple of bucks and I wash your car.”

I Never Met A StorySo I screwed up a little nerve I had and I said “Listen man. I really find it relaxing when I do this alone. How about I give you a couple of bucks and you don’t help me wash my car?” He says “Nah, I think I’m going to help wash your car.”

I don’t even think that’s legal. You can’t just show up and tell someone you’re going to mow their lawn. I didn’t know what to do and I was scared so I screwed all the nerve I screwed up and I said fine. He picked up the brush and said, “You squirt the soap water and I’ll scrub.”

Yes, okay, you are the boss man. We pretty much did the whole car that way and as we did, we started talking about places we’ve been, troubles we had, and girls we knew. And, I got to tell you, by the time we finished, not only did I like him, but the car was clearly better off having been washed by two guys rather than just one. He said he’d keep an eye out for me.

Then, as he was about to walk off, I said “Hey man, one more thing. Honestly, when you came over here, were you going to rob me?” And he laughed and said “Yeah, man.” I laughed too, but I was panicked and called fight-or-flight and reached out.

I said, “What’s your name man?”

“I’m Tony Bennett.”

Without even blinking more than 3-4 times, I said, “So, great, I am Bill Cosby. Nice to meet you.”

His eyes got wide and he started yelling. “Are you messing with me, man?”

I said, “What do you mean? You started it. You told me that you were Tony Bennett.”

“What do you mean? I am Tony Bennett!” And he pulls out this ID and he had this photo on it and it said Tony Bennett and I was like “Ugh. You got me. I was wrong. You were right.” And, I said, “I am not Bill Cosby… at all.”

We hugged. I am pretty sure, I mean a thousand percent sure, that, during that hug, that Tony Bennett stole $65 from my coat pockets.

I always want to add when I get done with that story, because my friends, they’ll be like, “I thought you were going to tell us about that ‘I Left my Heart in San Francisco’ Tony Bennett.”

So, sorry, if there was confusion about that. I was talking about the Tony Bennett that hangs around the East Nashville Car Wash.

  • Eddiie Wes’s

    That’s too bad, Todd probably needed that $65 to buy another newspaper from Moondog.

  • John Skadden

    Somehow the transcriber heard “Bill Cosby” instead of “Bing Crosby”. I hope an audio version of the book comes available soon. Even tho I can “hear” him in my head as I read the stories, the real thing would always be better.