A line from "Gotta Serve Somebody
" that showed that Bob Dylan
still had a
sense of humor despite the grim figure he presented in the days of
Slow Train Coming
and its subsequent tour. "You may call me RJ..."
came from a brief late-70s
craze, a character
named Raymond J. Johnson, Jr. in actor/comedian
Bill Saluga's repertoire.
An example, from a US variety show sketch: Johnson, dressed like some time-warped 40s hipster gone slightly to seed, and talking in a voice not unlike that of Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer is introduced to someone at a party. The person calls him "Johnson", and off we go...
Aw, ya doesn't have to call me "Johnson"... You can call me "RJ", you can call
me "Ray", you can call me "Ray J"...
One of those "you had to be there" sort of things. As Saluga was introduced to each person at the party, the whole thing repeated itself. The show itself was short-lived (I'm thinking it may have been Redd Foxx's), but RJ lived on, with a
disco album, and television commercials like an early one for Anheuser-Busch's Natural Light beer. Before RJ-mania, Johnson was a
character on David Steinberg's program in Canada (also short-lived); the cast
included various Toronto Second City people, many of whom would go on to
worldwide fame as part of SCTV.
Johnson! The name's Raymond J. Johnson, Jr., but ya doesn't have to call me
"Johnson" - you can call me "Johnny", you can call me "Ray", you can call me