12 Brothers - The Lyrics: Business

Prerequisite reading thus far:

Now I will add to that the previous post that I had written about the song Business, entitled Biznits 51. I will restate the lyrics below for ease of reading and commenting.

Our story now cuts to an unspecified "later date." The "new child" is all grown up now and his father has put him in charge of the family business, just as he had planned all along. #12 is doing a fine job, but he's getting railroaded by his brothers. They don't respect the authority that their father has given him and remain wholly uncooperative in their business dealings. Finally, the 11 see an opportunity! They get into some illegal activity surrounding the business and frame #12, who must fake his own death to avoid imprisonment.

Chapter 2: Business

Verse 1:

our mothers used to say
"you must stick together always
and never divide
and never separate"

Verse 2:

our father used to say
"you must do what's right always
the course you must stay
and never deviate"

Chorus 1:

it's just business on the shelf
it's just business between us twelve

Verse 3:

our father used to say
"the customer's right always
so stay open late
and make sure you get paid"

Verse 4:

why can't you do what i say
you know our father would want it that way
we must work it out
there is no reason to shout

Chorus 2:

it's just business on the shelf
it's just business between us twelve

Verse 5:

why did you sell me out
now father says i am not alive
i hate this feeling
i know i'm justified

If you read the comments on the Biznits 51 post perhaps you noticed the alternate chorus that I had written at one point in time. It goes like this:

all is fair in love and war
between brothers in the family store

Is that worthy of entry into this song? Is it just too played and cliched? It could either replace or join to the current chorus. Or it could be left out altogether.


Joshua Provost said...

So, yeh, by and large, this one is already worked out. Angie and I just did a sing-along and it all works. Sometimes the pacing of the lines isn't obvious, but it does all fit. I've got a different guitar part for the choruses, and a modification of the verse part for the final verse, and a big ending.

The one thing I would say is that I'm not a big fan of the "business on the shelf" line. I know it rhymes, but that's about all it's got going for it.

Anyway, how about making the chorus longer? Combine all the lines you had before. It's just business as usual?

Now I know you have full creative license on this one, but you do know that Benji is numero 12, right? I guess we're switching that up? Taking the whole Benji test of loyalty out later, too?

Let's see, "fathers" in the second verse refers to "forefathers" essentially, right? That one caught me by surprise at first, but Angie explained it. If that's what you were going for...

I'm not sure about verse 3. Not that's its bad, but verse 1 and 2 certainly go together, but 3 and 4 don't seem to. 4 and 5 would go well together. I hate to break into a chorus in the middle of the 4/5 story arc. 3 seems unnecessary. It also seems to put a slightly negative light on the father character. "The customer is always right" is a good thing, but "make sure you get paid" isn't so much.

Your thoughts?

Jeremy said...

I like business on the shelf. It's quite enjoyable. How do you feel about the "love and war" part being added to the chorus? I take it you're looking for this to be the chorus:

it's just business on the shelf
it's just business between us twelve
it's just business as usual

I could handle that.

Here's the thing about the story, it is getting mixed around a bit. That's somewhat necessary in order to simplify and modernize. We'll just need to deal with it.

I did not intend to write "fathers" in the second verse. I have now fixed that in the original post. "Mothers" in the first verse, of course, is intentional, since the brothers were born of different mothers.

I hear what you're saying about the structure of the verses within the song. How about this?

Verse 1
Chorus 1
Verse 2
Verse 3
Chorus 2
Verse 4
Verse 5

That should be setup in such a way that things would go together. And speaking of creative license, I don't mind giving the father a darker side.

I'll tell you what I'd really like. I'd like to perhaps replace the finaly verse with something different altogether. The tone of the song could shift to something darker and then the lyrics would take over from the brother's perspective. Here's an example, though I don't think this is good enough to be used:

this all must stop
you're not the boss
you dream your dreams
and father suffers a loss

I don't know. Can you work with that?

Joshua Provost said...

OK, I'm warming up to business on the shelf. I finally figured out the right guitar part for it. Business on the shelf/Between us twelve needs to be the end of the chorus, if something is added. I have something special for the end of the chorus, based on those lines. Only add business as usual, if you can find another line to pair with it.

I'm cool with changing the story. I just went around with JAG on that, because I corrupted his wonderful Three Musketeers story ("The FBI and NSA are not the right analogy, Winter is supposed to beg, not be defiant, they're not supposed to kill her right away, etc."). I'm all for adapting it for the current drama.

Ah, no "fathers?" I thought it was cool because the moral values had been passed down from Abe and Ice, down to Jake.

Stick with:


Then add the "all fair" part twice at the very end. I've got something for that, too.

Trust me, V4/5 will take on a very dark tone. It's all in the instrumentation and vocal delivery.

Put it in the file!

Joshua Provost said...


I'm thinking that this song needs to better develop the story. V4 needs to convey better that the eleven were up to no good. That's the only piece missing, that I can tell.


Jeremy said...

it's just business as usual
it's just one more struggle
it's just business on the shelf
it's just business between us twelve


I can see the "love and war" coming at the end. That could work.

I definitely agree that the last two verses are somewhat weak. It's not that I don't like them, but you're right, they don't tell the story explicity enough. Any thoughts on improvements?

Joshua Provost said...

I guess it works better with just the two lines.

Jeremy said...

Fine. Be that way. That was a wasted trip to the online rhyming dictionary.

Jeremy said...

Have I mentioned how much I like verse 3 and how disappointed I am that you want to axe it.

I've been doing some thinking about verses 4 and 5, trying to figure out what stays and what goes. I like the "we must work it out / there is no reason to shout" action.

I think what we need to do is solidify what the crime is and why #12 has to fake his death. I'm thinking either cooking the books or tax evasion. The eleven did the deed but they've placed all the blame on #12. Maybe that will give you something to think about for lyrical purposes. It would seem very appropriate given what corporations have gone through recently.

Joshua Provost said...

OK, well, maybe it doesn't need to be asked. As you like to say, don't throw anything out, just add to it. I'm cool with keeping the 3/4 combination and putting 5 after C2.

Jeremy said...

Sweet-ish! I win!

Now if you could only write some alternate 4/5 lyrics...