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"A Beautiful Life" with James Belushi: how one of the main rock themes of 1973 was created, and what does it have to do with a comedy film?

On the song "Takin' Care of Business", as well as the success of the movie of the same name starring James Belushi...

"Takin' Care of Business" (1973): how one of the biggest rock hits of the 70s was created, which later became the main soundtrack to the film of the same name in the 90s

"Takin' Care of Business" (translated from English as "take care of the business" or "put things in order") is a rather old term that appeared at least in the 1900s. The rock band Bachman-Turner-Overdrive (BTO) popularized the saying in their 1973 song "Takin' Care of Business". They recorded a composition for their 1973 album titled "Bachman-Turner Overdrive II". And although the track did not hit the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, over time it became a very big hit! It was the composition "Takin' Care of Business" that became one of the main rock themes of the comedy film "How to Succeed in Business" with James Belushi in the title role! And today we are here to remember her story...

How was the song created? Background and recording…

Randy Beckman, these days...
Randy Beckman, these days...

The author of the song is Randy Beckman: the musician wrote this hit while still a member of The Guess Who. According to Backman, The Beatles song "Paperback Writer" served as a source of inspiration: an early version of the future hit had the working title "White Collar Worker" and ... was rejected. When Beckman played it to Burton Cummings, he declared that he was "ashamed of him" and that "The Guess Who will never record this song because the Beatles will sue them"! Then Backman hid his creation, and remembered him only with the Bachman-Turner-Overdrive group.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO)
Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO)

As the story goes, Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO), formed by Bachman after leaving The Guess Who, held a week-long series of Canadian Club shows before heading into the studio to record their second album. During the Saturday night show, Fred Turner lost his voice, and Beckman became the vocalist ... The limited set of songs came to an end - but not the show itself. Then Backman was forced to remember his rejected creation ... He borrowed the name "Takin' Care of Business" from the radio DJ C-Fox - Randy heard this phrase on the way to the club. After instructing the rest of the band to play a simple three-chord progression, Beckman sang the lyrics to "White Collar Worker", replacing "Takin' Care of Business" with the original title in the chorus. So the band and the crowd witnessed this miraculous birth of an instant classic…

When BTO entered the studio to record a track for their second album, they recorded it pretty much the way it was performed on stage, along with Beckman's vocals! This track also featured a certain Norman Durkey who played the piano... Who is this person and how did he get into the studio with Bachman-Turner Overdrive? Well, this is a very interesting story, reminiscent of the plot of a movie ... John Presho, who knew Beckman and worked as a security guard at their concerts, says the following:

“Randy Beckman told me that when BTO was in the recording studio, the producer was unhappy with the raw version of this song. BTO took time out, ordered pizza and got back to work on the song. There was a knock on the studio door, and it turned out to be a pizza delivery man. After giving the group a pizza, he said that "Takin' Care of Business" was a great song, but it lacked the piano a bit... The pizza delivery man introduced himself as Norman and said that he was a pianist. The BTO thanked him, gave him a tip and sent him on his way. A few hours later, when the song didn't improve, they decided to call Norman, but no one wrote down his phone number and couldn't remember the name of the pizzeria... The BTO called half a dozen pizzerias before they could track him down. The band paid Norman $75 to join briefly so he could play the piano in the recording studio…”

As a result, it was this song that popularized the phrase "take care of business": later, many people began to use the phrase "Takin' Care of Business" in their conversation, thereby emphasizing that they are busy with work ... However, while the title of the song implies diligent responsibility , a closer listen reveals that this composition is more like… an anthem for a slacker! The protagonist of the song is allegedly unemployed and he "likes not to work all day":

"And if your train is on time
You can get to work by nine
And start your work day to get paid
And if you ever get annoyed
Then look at me, I'm self-employed
I love wasting the whole day…”

Use in the comedy "How to Succeed in Business" starring James Belushi

Frame from the film "Beautiful Life" (1990)
Frame from the film "Beautiful Life" (1990)

How to Succeed in Business is a 1990 American comedy film starring Charles Grodin and James Belushi. And as you may have noticed, the title of the film closely echoes the title of the BTO song… And for good reason! Written by Beckman and initially rejected by The Guess Who, the song became the title track in Arthur Hiller's movie!

One character in the film is a car thief serving another term in prison. The second one is constantly inundated with a growing collage of graphs, notes and notes... Jimmy Dworsky is a car thief: he is serving his time behind bars, but just a few days before he is released, he gets a ticket to the World Series Finals with his favorite baseball team Chicago Cubs! From now on, all that worries our hero is to see the match with his own eyes. And, as we can tell, as a true baseball fan, he absolutely does not care about the consequences ... Jimmy Dworsky is escaping from prison! On the way to the masts, he finds a lost organizer book: in it, Jimmy discovers the key to a luxurious villa ...

As events unfold, it becomes clear that the organizer belonged to the marketing manager, workaholic Spencer Barnes: he needed the boss's villa to hold the most important business meeting in his career ... But - in an instant, all Spencer's plans collapse like a house of cards: now he is behind bars , and Jimmy Dworsky enjoys a luxurious life ... Dworsky impersonates Barnes: he also goes instead of him to a business meeting, and disrupts it ...

Frame from the film "Beautiful Life" (1990)...
Shot from the film "Beautiful Life" (1990) ...

In the end, the paths of Jimmy and Spencer intersect: Jimmy returns to jail, as if he never left prison, and Spencer finds a new job and restores a damaged relationship with his wife...

Frame from the movie "Beautiful Life"...
A scene from the film "A Beautiful Life" ...

In general, this is a good American comedy, which, at first, was received very coldly by critics: many found the film unfunny, too predictable, and also unkind to women! However, even such criticism did not prevent Hiller's film from achieving success: the comedy was a great success at the box office - box office receipts amounted to $ 20 million! As for Backman's song, it has become one of BTO's most enduring and well-known songs, spending 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, longer than any of the band's other singles.

Interesting Facts

Frame from the film "Beautiful Life" (1990)
Frame from the film "Beautiful Life" (1990)
  • In the early 90s, the track was used in an advertisement for Office Depot (an American office supply retailer) to promote their business services. In 2008, Hillary Clinton used it in many of her campaign events when she first ran for President of the United States.
  • A cover of this song was included on the first rap album released by a major label! It happened in 1980 when Curtis Blow recorded "Takin' Care of Business" for his self-titled album.

  • In the early 2000s, the song appeared on The Simpsons: at a concert, Homer gets the BTO band until they play this song, and then tells them: "Go to 'overtime!'"

  • The title of the song, as well as the name of the band itself, is referenced in the humorous video game Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.
  • Randy Backman titled his autobiography Randy Backman, Taking Care of Business.

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