Jackson Browne started writing "Take It Easy" for his first album, but he didn't know how to finish it. At the time, he was living in an apartment in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles, and his upstairs neighbor was Glenn Frey, who needed songs for his new band - the Eagles.
Frey heard Browne working on the song (he says that he learned a lot about songwriting by listening to his downstairs neighbor work), and told Jackson he thought it was great. Browne said he was having trouble completing the track, and played what he had of it. When he got to the second verse, Frey came up with a key lyric: "It's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me."
Browne turned the song over to Frey, who finished writing it and recorded it with the Eagles, who used it as the first song on their first album, and also their first single. Frey says Browne did most of the work on the song and was very generous in sharing the writing credit. He described the unfinished version of the song as a "package without the ribbon."
Glenn Frey's changes to this song included stretching out the "E" in "Easy." He considered the song one of the most important Eagles tracks, and a great introduction to the group on their first album. In an interview with Bob Costas, he said the song represented "America's first image of our band with the vistas of the Southwest and the beginnings of what became country-rock."
The Eagles played this live long before they recorded it. It was one of the songs they played when they were doing four sets a night at a club in Aspen, Colorado. By the time they recorded it, the song had more of a country feel.
Thanks to the line, "Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
," music lovers have made this Southwest town a popular stop on their road trips. Winslow is on Route 40 in northern Arizona, making it a great place to stop if you're traveling from California to New Mexico.
While it might not be the actual corner where Jackson Browne was standing, the city designated the corner of West 2nd Street and North Kinsley Avenue in downtown Winslow as "Standin' On The Corner Park." Officially opened in 1999, the park has become a popular tourist destination and hosts a festival every year. A mural with the name of the town, and with a statue of a guy standing on the corner have filled many Flickr feeds. When the mural was damaged by fire in 2004, the Eagles donated a signed guitar that was raffled off to help repair it.
According to Glenn Frey, the message of this song is, "You shouldn't get too big too fast."
Jackson Browne released his own version of "Take It Easy" on his second album, For Everyman
, in 1973. He and the Eagles each issued their debut albums in 1972; Browne was the first to have a hit, charting with "Doctor My Eyes
" a few months before the Eagles landed with "Take It Easy."
Travis Tritt recorded this for the 1993 Eagles tribute album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles
. According to The Country Music Encyclopedia
, he asked the record company to arrange for the 1980 Eagles lineup to be in the video with him, something he didn't think would happen because of conflicts within the group. To his surprise, the band joined him and appeared in the video. Said Tritt: "I saw a bunch of guys who got together and really seemed to realize that they didn't hate each other as bad as they thought they did." The video shoot took place on December 6, 1993, and led to the Eagles Hell Freezes Over
album and tour.
Bertrand - Paris, France
Browne recalled to Uncut magazine August 2010 the story of the song: "During a break in the middle of recording the first album, I took a road trip in this old beat-up Willys Jeep and I went to Utah and Arizona. On that trip I started to write 'Take It Easy,' and when I came back, I played it for Glenn Frey, and he asked if the Eagles could cut it when it was done. So I said, 'Just finish it,' and he wrote the last verse and turned it into a real song. It was their first single, and what those guys did with it was incredible."
During the Eagles 1994 Hell Freezes Over
tour, Frey would intro this song by saying, "And here's how it all started."
Ricky - Los Angeles, CA
Don Henley shared his thoughts on "Take It Easy" in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone: "The song's primary appeal, I think, is that it evokes a sense of motion, both musically and lyrically. The romance of the open road. The lure of adventure and possibility - Route 66, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pacific Coast Highway. Great American writers from Thomas Wolfe to Jack Kerouac to Wallace Stegner have addressed this theme of the restlessness of the American spirit, of our need to keep moving, especially from east to west, in search of freedom, identity, fortune and this illusive thing we call 'home.'"
With Jackson Browne on lead vocals, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh performed this song at the Grammy Awards in 2016 as a tribute to Glenn Frey, who died a month earlier. The Eagles never performed at the Grammys, and skipped the ceremony completely when "Hotel California
" won for Record of the Year at the 1978 ceremony.