Takin' Care of Business

Originally Performed ByBachman-Turner Overdrive
Original AlbumBachman-Turner Overdrive II (1973)
Music/LyricsRandy Bachman
VocalsTrey, Fish
Phish Debut2013-10-20
Last Played2013-10-20
Current Gap279
HistorianMartin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update2013-10-21


According to Randy Bachman, the genesis of his signature composition “Takin’ Care of Business” was a moment of on-stage magic born out of duress. The framework of the song, originally named “White Collar Worker” after the common fashion of the recording technicians working on an album for The Guess Who, had been lurking inside Bachman since the heyday of The Beatles “Paperback Writer,” the song upon which it was initially modeled. When it was brought to the table, the band rejected Bachman’s tune and cast it aside as nothing more than a cheap imitation of the Liverpudlian ode to something other than love. Bachman tucked it away for that moment of alchemy when those same rejected elements were amalgamated into the provincial slacker anthem of Manitoba. 

Bachman Turner Overdrive – "Takin Care Of Business"

As the story goes, Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO), the band Bachman formed after leaving The Guess Who and converting to Mormonism, was doing a week-long series of Canadian Club shows in advance of going into the studio to record their second album. During the Saturday night show, Fred Turner lost his voice, leaving Bachman to assume vocalist duties for the remainder of the show. Having run out of the limited set of songs the band typically performed to let Fred rest his voice, Bachman dug deep, borrowed a CFOX radio DJ’s catch phrase and did his job like a boss. Instructing the rest of the band to jam on a simple three chord progression, Bachman sang the lyrics to “White Collar Worker” substituting “Takin’ Care of Business” for the original title in the chorus, with band and crowd alike bearing witness to the miraculous birthing of an instant classic. In that moment, BTO had overcome their adverse circumstances, pushed into overdrive, and clearly demonstrated what “Takin’ Care of Business” (“TCB”), the latter day motto of the saintly Elvis Presley, was all about. 

The man of the moment magic didn’t stop there. When BTO got into the studio to record the track for their second album, they laid it down pretty much how it had been fused on stage, complete with Bachman vocals. Then the pizza guy showed up with a pie for The Steve Miller Band, who were allegedly recording next door. Norman Durkee, the supposed delivery guy in question, himself a pianist and by his account recording commercials across the hall, heard “TCB” and told BTO the tune needed a little something boogie-woogie from the old 88. Durkee, later the musical director for both Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, and the Teatro ZinZanni Seattle reportedly scribbled the chords on a pizza box and cut the piano track for TCB in a single take. Right man, right place, right time to just “git er done.” Another example of someone just living the “TCB” lifestyle baby.

World's Largest Cowbell Ensemble – "Takin Care Of Business" – 4/14/12

The Phish debut of the BTO classic was no less magical when it emerged seamlessly from a mid second set “Piper” during the last of three nights (10/20/13) at the Mothership to kick off the 2013 fall tour. It was lyrically sloppy, vocally rough, but undeniably awesome and completely shredded by the entire band. With their performance of this new cover Phish was serving notice to all that whatever they had coming for Halloween, they were going to “TCB” and do it up right… again. Although a debut for Phish, “TCB” was one of the songs Jon Fishman and The World’s Largest Cowbell Ensemble had played during their 15th anniversary celebration of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food (4/14/12). 

So what are we to make of their choice of cover? Was it a reference to Mike being under the weather and losing his voice? Would we see Phish placate our “Suspicious Minds” and go From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis on Halloween? Was it simply an invitation to “Guess Who?” The answer my friend is just blowin’ (dust) in the wind, but to be honest, I coulda used a little bit more cowbell.

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