Take It Easy
|"Take It Easy"|
|Single by Eagles|
|from the album Eagles|
|B-side||"Get You in the Mood"|
|Released||May 1, 1972|
|Recorded||1972, Olympic Sound Studios, London|
|Length||3:30 (single version)
4:36 (live version)
|Writer(s)||Jackson Browne, Glenn Frey|
|Eagles singles chronology|
|"Take It Easy"|
|Single by Jackson Browne|
|from the album For Everyman|
|B-side||"Ready or Not"|
|Writer(s)||Jackson Browne, Glenn Frey|
|Jackson Browne singles chronology|
"Take It Easy" is a song written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, and most famously recorded by the Eagles (with Frey singing lead vocals). It was the band's first single, released on May 1, 1972. It peaked at #12 on the July 22, 1972 Billboard Hot 100 chart, spending 11 weeks on the chart that summer, after debuting at #79 on June 3. It also was the opening track on the band's debut album Eagles and it has become one of their signature songs, included on all of their live and compilation albums. It is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Jackson Browne later recorded the song as the lead track on his second album, For Everyman (1973), and released it as a single as well, although it did not chart. It has also been covered by several other artists including Billy Mize, Johnny Rivers, and Travis Tritt. Tritt's version, recorded for the tribute album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles, was released as a single in 1993, and peaked at #21 on the Billboard country music charts. The video for Tritt's version featured the Eagles lineup from 1978 to 1980 (precipitating the Eagles' regrouping for a new album and tour the following year).
Jackson Browne originally began writing "Take It Easy" in 1971 for his own self-titled debut album but was having difficulty finishing the song. His friend and then-neighbor Glenn Frey heard an early version and liked it so much that Browne gave it to him for his new band. Frey finished the second verse (including the line "It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford ...") and the resulting single climbed to #12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
Browne told a version of the story in a radio interview, praising Frey: "I knew Glenn Frey from playing these clubs - we kept showing up at the same clubs and singing on the open-mike nights. Glenn happened to come by to say 'hi,' and to hang around when I was in the studio, and I showed him the beginnings of that song, and he asked if I was going to put it on my record and I said it wouldn't be ready in time. He said 'well, we'll put it on, we'll do it,' 'cause he liked it," Browne explained. "But it wasn't finished, and he kept after me to finish it, and finally offered to finish it himself. And after a couple of times when I declined to have him finish my song, I said, 'alright.' I finally thought, 'this is ridiculous. Go ahead and finish it. Do it.' And he finished it in spectacular fashion. And, what's more, arranged it in a way that was far superior to what I had written."
On the Eagles version, bass player Randy Meisner sings the harmony vocal in the beginning of this verse with Frey, but drummer Don Henley is singing harmony at the end of the verse ("Though we will never be here again...). Bernie Leadon provides the lead guitar and distinctive banjo parts, as well as harmony vocals.
Browne's recording is notable for featuring Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel, the teaming up of David Lindley (playing electric guitar) with Browne, and the way Micky McGee's percussion and the other instruments crossfade into the next track on the album, "Our Lady of the Well."
In 1972, Bud Scoppa wrote in Rolling Stone in his review of the Eagles' debut album that "Take it Easy" was "simply the best sounding rock single to come out so far this year. The first time through, you could tell it had everything: danceable rhythm, catchy, winding melody, intelligent, affirmative lyrics, a progressively powerful arrangement mixing electric guitar and banjo, and a crisp vocal, with vibrant four-part harmony at just the right moments for maximum dramatic effect."
On Allmusic.com, William Ruhlmann said that Browne wrote the song in 1971 while working on his debut album, and that "it encapsulated many of the usual themes of his work, touching on the road, women, love as salvation, and an ambivalent sense of fatalism." Discussing the specific lyrics, Ruhlmann goes on: "The opening verse was a joke. The narrator says he is running down the road with seven women on his mind. But this vision of promiscuity is quickly dispelled. Of the seven, four want to own him, two want to stone him, and one just wants to be his friend. The verse introduces the song's point, that, despite troubles, one should 'take it easy.'" Ruhlmann points out that Frey's added verse "lightened the song's mood considerably. Now, the narrator was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, being eyed by a woman in a truck (flatbed Ford) who slowed down to give him the once-over. These unabashedly vain lines weren't exactly consistent with Browne's theme, but they made it sound like the singer really did want to take it easy."
Responding to the fame of that second verse of "Take It Easy," the city of Winslow, Arizona, erected a life-size bronze statue and mural commemorating the song, at the Standin' on the Corner Park. The statue stands near a lamp post, the male figure securing an acoustic guitar between his right hand and the shoe of his right foot. Above his head, a metal sign, crafted in the style of U.S. Route shields, displays the words "Standin' on the corner". The trompe-l'œil mural on the wall behind the statue is that of a storefront, and includes what would appear to be the reflection of a red flatbed Ford pickup truck driven by a blonde-haired woman. The second floor of the mural features an eagle perched in one window on the left and a man and woman (apparently the man on the corner and woman in the truck) embracing in another window on the right.
Winslow's only radio station, KINO, has used the phrase "Take It Easy" (or variants of it, like "Takin' It Easy") as a slogan at various times since the song first became popular.
The song is featured in the 1999 motion picture Outside Providence, starring Shawn Hatosy, Alec Baldwin and Amy Smart. It was also featured in a 1982 episode of the Knight Rider television series. In "Trouble at Cooter's," a 1981 episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, Bo and Luke perform a duet of "Take It Easy" while running down the road in the General Lee in the show's opening scene.
Chart performance (Eagles)
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||12|
|U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary||12|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||8|
Chart performance (Travis Tritt)
|Canada Country Tracks (RPM)||12|
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||21|
- Glenn Frey: Lead vocals, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
- Don Henley: Drums, backing vocals
- Bernie Leadon: Lead guitar, banjo, backing vocals
- Randy Meisner: Bass guitar, backing vocals
- Billboard magazine. "Take It Easy" Chart History Accessed July 29, 2012.
- Allmusic.com. Eagles Awards Accessed July 29, 2012.
- Whitburn, Joel. Billboard Hot 100 Charts - The Seventies. Wisconsin: Record Research, 1990.
- Paris, Russ. The Jackson Browne Fans Page, Complete Discography.
- Paris, Russ. The Jackson Browne Fans Page, Jackson Browne Audio Interview.
- Scoppa, Bud. Rolling Stone, Review of Eagles, June 22, 1972.
- Ruhlmann, William. AllMusic.com, Review of "Take It Easy."
- Standin' on the Corner Park, Winslow, Arizona
- InternetMovieDatabase.com Jackson Browne.
- "RPM Country Tracks." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. March 14, 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
- "Travis Tritt Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Travis Tritt.