Taking care of business was the late Elvis Presley’s key phrase.  He had jewellery made out of the letters TCB. It meant a great deal to him that he ought to be taking care of his business.

I must admit to discovering this fact years ago and thinking no more about it than it was unusual.

As I grew older, I realised that it was pretty powerful.  I came across it in gangster/ mafia movies, where it meant to settle a score, even things up.  Italians tend to say they will take care of things, as opposed to doing things.  For example, someone will ask:

“Hey — have you parked the car?”

“Yeah, I am taking care of it”

That struck me as an odd use of the language.  Did Elvis mean he wanted to take care of business in that way? Was he threatening people? Is his phrase a warning that he will settle things?

Another way to look at this, is that Elvis was a singer — so maybe taking care of business was about singing.  The phrase reminding him of sticking to what he does/ knows: his core business.

I tended to think of it as meaning taking care of your own affairs — being on the ball, not being lazy, staying on top.  Taking care — actual care of everything you do.

On the other hand, in a pub some years ago, I had a discussion with a stranger who thought Elvis was reminding himself to provide for his family — she would stay indoors and take care of the house and family, so he would be left to take care of business — the big stuff, buying cars, holidays, houses, work and so forth.  This was a very old-fashioned misogynistic view, but all the same…

Lately I was thinking that he might have meant getting the job done — a psych routine before going into the recording studio or going on stage live.  He was pumping himself up to deliver the goods — to take care fo the business at hand, to do it, and get it done.


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