Take It Easy

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This article is about the Jackson Browne/Glenn Frey/Eagles song. For different songs and other works with this name, see Take It Easy (disambiguation).
"Take It Easy"
Single by Eagles
from the album Eagles
B-side "Get You in the Mood"
Released May 1, 1972
Format 7"
Recorded 1972, Olympic Sound Studios, London
Genre Country rock[1]
Length 3:30
Label Asylum
Writer(s) Jackson Browne, Glenn Frey
Producer(s) Glyn Johns
Eagles singles chronology
"Take It Easy"
(1972)
"Witchy Woman"
(1972)
"Take It Easy"
Single by Jackson Browne
from the album For Everyman
B-side "Ready or Not"
Released 1973
Format 7"
Recorded 1973
Genre Country rock
Length 3:39
Label Asylum
Writer(s) Jackson Browne, Glenn Frey
Producer(s) Glyn Johns
Jackson Browne singles chronology
"Redneck Friend"
(1973)
"Take It Easy"
(1973)
"Walking Slow"
(1974)

"Take It Easy" is a song written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, and recorded by the Eagles with Frey singing lead vocals. It was the band's first single, released on May 1, 1972. It peaked at No. 12 on the July 22, 1972 Billboard Hot 100 chart.[2][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 listed as 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.[4] Travis Tritt also covered the song for the 1993 Eagles' tribute album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles; the video for Tritt's version is notable for the appearance of all five members of the Eagles together the first time in 13 years after their break-up, and it led to the reunion of the band a few months later.[5]

History[edit]

Composition[edit]

Jackson Browne originally began writing "Take It Easy" in 1971 for his own eponymous debut album but was having difficulty finishing the song. His friend and then-neighbor Glenn Frey had heard an early version and later asked Browne about it. Browne then played the unfinished second verse that begins with "Well, I'm a-standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona...", and Frey finished the verse with "It's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin' down to take a look at me."[6] Browne was very happy with the result and suggested that they co-write the song.[7] The resulting song became the first track on the Eagles' debut album and was released as their first single.

Browne told a version of the story in a radio interview: "I knew Glenn Frey from playing these clubs - we kept showing up at the same clubs and singing on the open-mic 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, 'all right.' 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."[8]

Recordings[edit]

Glenn Frey sings the lead vocal on the Eagles recording of "Take It Easy". Bass player Randy Meisner sings the harmony vocal in the beginning of the second verse with Frey, but drummer Don Henley sings harmony at the end of the verse ("Though we will never be here again...).[9] Bernie Leadon provides the lead guitar and distinctive banjo parts, as well as harmony vocals. The track's producer Glyn Johns said: "On 'Take It Easy' I got Bernie to play double-time banjo; they all thought it was a bonkers idea but it worked. It was already a great song, but that one little thing made it different."[10]

In their early live performances, the Eagles start with an a cappella version of a verse from "Silver Dagger" that begins with "My daddy is a handsome devil..." as an intro to "Take It Easy".[11]

Jackson Browne also recorded a version for his 1973 album For Everyman.[12] 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."

Reception[edit]

Critical[edit]

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."[13]

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."[14]

Commercial[edit]

The song was released as the first single of the Eagles in May 1972, and entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 79 on the chart date of June 3, 1972.[15] It stayed for 11 weeks on the chart that summer, peaked at No. 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on July 22, 1972.[16][17] It also peaked at No. 12 the same week on the Easy Listening chart (later known as Adult Contemporary),[18] a chart it first entered at No. 40 on June 17, 1972.[19]

Winslow, Arizona[edit]

The "Take It Easy" statue and mural at 35°1'24.54" N, 110°41'53.02" W at Second St. & Kinsley Ave. in Winslow, Arizona.

According to Frey, the second verse of "Take It Easy" refers to the time when Jackson Browne's car broke down in Winslow, Arizona on one of his trips to Sedona, and he had to spend a long day in Winslow.[20] In 1999, in responding to the lyrics that made it well-known, the city of Winslow 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.[21] The site has become a landmark that attracted many visitors to the town.[22]

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.

There has however been some confusion about the location of original incident that inspired the story in the lyrics. In an interview with Matthew Ziegler, Browne related that it took place in Flagstaff, Arizona, at the Der Wienerschnitzel (now the Dog Haus) at the corner of East Rte. 66 and Switzer Canyon.[23] According to Browne, a girl cruised by in a Toyota pickup and looked at him and the image stuck with him. Browne had told Frey about the girl in the truck, and Frey then used the incident to add the line about the girl to the song.[24] Browne however also stated in an interview with Los Angeles Times that it was always Winslow where his car had broken down, although "the image of that girl driving a truck was an image that came from east" (i.e. East Flagstaff). The lines are therefore an amalgamation of two different events.[20]

Personnel[edit]

Travis Tritt version[edit]

"Take It Easy"
Single by Travis Tritt
from the album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles
B-side "I Wish I Could Go Back Home"
Released October 30, 1993
Format CD single
Genre Country
Length 3:32
Label Giant
Writer(s) Jackson Browne, Glenn Frey
Producer(s) James Stroud[25]
Travis Tritt singles chronology
"Worth Every Mile"
(1993)
"Take It Easy"
(1993)
"Foolish Pride"
(1994)

Travis Tritt recorded a version for the Eagles tribute album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles, which features country artists who'd grown up listening to the band's music. On the song, Bernie Leadon's guitar parts was played by Dann Huff.[26] The song was released as a single in 1993, and peaked at number 21 on the Billboard country music charts.

Tritt made a request for members of the Eagles to appear in his video for the song, and the resulting video for Tritt's version featured the Eagles lineup from 1978 to 1980 (Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit) playing pool and as a band. Frey, who had previously been reluctant to reunite with the band, later said: "After years passed, you really sort of remember that you were friends first ... I just remembered how much we genuinely had liked each other and how much fun we'd had."[26] Frey and Henley met with their management over lunch two months after the making of the video and agreed to the reunion of Eagles. A new album, Hell Freezes Over, was released and a tour launched the following year.[5]

Other versions[edit]

"Take It Easy" has also been recorded by Ottar Johansen (no) (as "Ta Det Rolig" Norse: album Hverdagshelter/ 1978), Express (fi) ("Ota Iisisti" Finnish/ 1978), Robby Longo (nl) (album Take It Easy/ 2014), Alice Ripley (album Daily Practice, Volume 1/ 2011), Søren Sko (da) (album Unpolished - 2001), and Roch Voisine (album AmerIIcana/ 2009).

In popular culture[edit]

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[27] and a 1979 episode of B.J. and the Bear.[28]

Chart performance[edit]

Eagles[edit]

Chart (1972-2016) Peak
position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[29] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[30] 12
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[31] 12
US Hot Rock Songs (Billboard)[32] 20

Travis Tritt[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[33] 12
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[34] 21

Personnel[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Horn, David; Shepherd, John, eds. (2012). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. 8 – Genres: North America. Continuum. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-4411-6078-2. 
  2. ^ Billboard magazine. "Take It Easy" Chart History Accessed July 29, 2012.
  3. ^ Allmusic.com. Eagles Awards Accessed July 29, 2012.
  4. ^ Paris, Russ. The Jackson Browne Fans Page, Complete Discography.
  5. ^ a b Gayle Thompson (May 27, 2015). "21 Years Ago: The Eagles Reunite for Hell Freezes Over Tour". The Boot. 
  6. ^ ""History of the Eagles": Glenn Frey interview, directed by Alison Ellwood, 42:51". 2013. 
  7. ^ Cameron Crowe (August 2003). "Conversations With Don Henley and Glenn Frey". The Uncool. 
  8. ^ Paris, Russ. The Jackson Browne Fans Page, Jackson Browne Audio Interview.
  9. ^ Andrew Unterberger (January 19, 2016). "Why 'Take It Easy' Was Glenn Frey's Best Eagles Song". Spin. 
  10. ^ "Glyn Johns - Album by Album". Uncut.co.uk. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  11. ^ In Concert - The Eagles. BBC. April 5, 1973. Event occurs at 21:40–26:40. 
  12. ^ Lars Brandle (January 22, 2016). "Jackson Browne Performs 'Take it Easy' Tribute to Glenn Frey: Watch". Billboard. 
  13. ^ Scoppa, Bud. Rolling Stone, Review of Eagles, June 22, 1972.
  14. ^ Ruhlmann, William. AllMusic.com, Review of "Take It Easy."
  15. ^ "Billboard Hot 100: June 3, 1972". Billboard. 
  16. ^ "Billboard Hot 100: July 22, 1972". Billboard. 
  17. ^ Whitburn, Joel. Billboard Hot 100 Charts - The Seventies. Wisconsin: Record Research, 1990.
  18. ^ "Adult Contemporary Tracks: July 22, 1972". Billboard. 
  19. ^ "Adult Contemporary Tracks: June 17, 1972". Billboard. (subscription required (help)). 
  20. ^ a b Fred Barbash and Jenny Starrs (January 19, 2016). "Glenn Frey and the mystery of the 'Take It Easy' corner in Winslow, Ariz.". Washington Post. 
  21. ^ Standin' on the Corner Park, Winslow, Arizona
  22. ^ Kevin Baxter (January 16, 2015). "It's the corner, and statue, that made Winslow, Arizona, famous". Los Angeles Times. 
  23. ^ James Kelleher (May 16, 2007). "Not standing on a corner in Winslow, Ariz". Reuters. 
  24. ^ "Dog Haus takes it easy" (PDF). Arizona Daily Sun. November 27, 2014. 
  25. ^ ‹See Tfm›Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles (CD insert). Various artists. Giant Records. 1993. 24531. 
  26. ^ a b Andrew Leahey (December 17, 2014). "Flashback: See Feuding Eagles 'Take It Easy' With Travis Tritt". Rolling Stone. 
  27. ^ InternetMovieDatabase.com Jackson Browne.
  28. ^ "B.J. and the Bear > Season 2 > Episode 3 - Cain's Cruiser". tv.com. 
  29. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7662." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  30. ^ "Eagles – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Eagles.
  31. ^ "Eagles – Chart history" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Eagles.
  32. ^ "Eagles – Chart history" Billboard Hot Rock Songs for Eagles.
  33. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 2412." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. March 14, 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  34. ^ "Travis Tritt – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Travis Tritt.

External links[edit]