May 4th, 2006

Tarrant Openly Taunts Workers: “It’s All Mine! Whoo!”

by Philip Baruth

One of our favorite sub-genres of campaign lore is the Wildly Inappropriate Campaign Theme Song.

For reasons that have never been entirely clear, Republicans are far more likely to fall into this trap — maybe because they listen to audiotapes of Ayn Rand in the car, rather than pop music. We’re only speculating.

In any event, it’s an old and storied sub-genre. There was, of course, Ronald Reagan’s attempted theft of Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” back in the ‘80s. A very unhappy Springsteen came out publicly to denounce Reagan, but that wasn’t the worst of it.

No, the worst of it was that clearly Reagan and his handlers had never listened to the lyrics of “Born in the USA,” one of the sharpest mainstream criticisms of US war and economic policy ever written.

In 1996, Bob Dole and handler Scott Reed attempted to reignite the final days of the Dole Campaign by adopting Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music, White Boy.”

Enough said.

Which brings us to the present day, and the state-of-the-art mishandled theme song. Senate hopeful Rich Tarrant held his kick-off rally this past Tuesday at St. Michael’s college. The Tarrant campaign had been robo-calling area residents relentlessly for weeks, trying to gin up an audience, and with Governor Douglas in attendance, Tarrant made it official.

“Huge Vermont and American flags hung behind the podium where he spoke, and the Bachman Turner Overdrive song ‘Taking Care of Business’ played as he made his entrance and exit.”

Yes, you heard that correctly: Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business.”

The Tarrant campaign’s logic seems clear in retrospect: Tarrant is a self-made millionaire, right? So BTO’s anthem will remind everyone that he’s a businessman, right? He took care of business then, and so — metaphorically — he can “take care of business” in the Senate.

Not the most nuanced logic in history, but clear.

But there are two things horribly wrong with “Takin’ Care of Business” as a Tarrant theme song:

BTO Frontman, barely alive1) Aesthetics. Bachman Turner Overdrive were never poster boys for Rock and Roll. They were always very overweight, very sweaty, very hairy guys standing motionless on a stage, playing four chords in various sequences.

And that was when they looked their best. Here’s the frontman today.

Again, enough said.

2) But as with “Born in the USA,” it’s the actual lyrics that represent the Tarrant campaign’s most crucial break with reality.

Tarrant has been trying desperately to downplay his wealth, his position above the average Vermont voter: hence the millions of dollars worth of basketball-themed commercials. But if you read the lyrics of “Takin’ Care of Business,” they are in the voice of a very rich man openly mocking the workers who don’t control their own destinies.

VDB wouldn’t make this up. Here’s the opening sequence in its entirety:

You get up every morning
From your alarm clock’s warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There’s a whistle up above
And people pushin’, people shovin’
And the girls who try to look pretty
And if your train’s on time
You can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get your pay
If you ever get annoyed
Look at me I’m self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day
And I’ll be…
Taking care of business every day
Taking care of business every way
I’ve been taking care of business, it’s all mine!
Taking care of business and working overtime
Work out!

Everybody got that? The guy singing doesn’t have a “slaving job” — he “loves to work at nothing all day.” See the point? It’s an in-your-face taunt from some guys who stumbled onto a recording contract and made a pile of cash.

And in case you missed it the first time around, the Bachman Turner Overdrive boys make it real clear in the next verse:

It’s the work that we avoid
And we’re all self-employed
We love to work at nothing all day
And we be…
Taking care of business every day
Taking care of business every way
I’ve been taking care of business, it’s all mine
Taking care of business and working overtime
Take good care of my business
When I’m away, every day whoo!

In other words, the singer and the rest of the band don’t want to work — they want to stay really rich (“It’s all mine”), lay in the sun, and mock the little people who run the business in their name (“Take good care of my business/When I’m away, every day/Whoo!”)

This is the theme song of the 2006 Tarrant Senate campaign. And in VDB’s humble opinion, it fits like a glove.

A beautiful hand-stitched Italian leather glove that costs more than you make in a month, that is.

3 Responses to ' Tarrant Openly Taunts Workers: “It’s All Mine! Whoo!” '

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to ' Tarrant Openly Taunts Workers: “It’s All Mine! Whoo!” '.

  1. Vermont Daily Briefing » said,

    on May 8th, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    […] It wasn’t bad enough that Tarrant picked Bachman Turner Overdrive’s ode to greed and worker-exploitation as his official theme song. […]

  2. on June 20th, 2007 at 3:44 am

    […] Granted, as theme song snafus go, the Dion pick can’t hold a candle to Rich Tarrant’s botched selection, but that’s thin comfort, thin comfort indeed. […]

  3. on November 30th, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    […] During the last campaign, Blogger Philip Baruth pointed out why Rich Tarrant’s campaign song “Takin’ Care of Business” fit his US Senate campaign so well. In a way that the Tarrant campaign would rather forget. This year, Hillary Clinton asked supporters to vote online for her campaign song and they gave the nod to Canadian balladeer Celine Dion. In that spirit, we offer you the opportunity to nominate a song for Jim Douglas’s 2008 campaign. He announced last July but so far we haven’t heard of any official song selection so we presume he’ll be open to suggestions. […]