Single Stories: Eagles, “Take It Easy”

Monday, May 1, 2017
Single Stories: Eagles, “Take It Easy”

45 years ago today, The Eagles released their very first single, a track which was co-written by Glenn Frey and a gentleman outside of the band’s ranks. Don’t worry, though: you know the guy.

Okay, fine: we won’t keep you in suspense: Frey’s co-writer on “Take It Easy” was Jackson Browne, who’d begun composing the song in 1971 for his own debut album but couldn’t seem to bring it home to completion. Frey, who was one of Browne’s neighbors at the time, liked what he’d heard of the song and asked about its whereabouts, and Browne admitted that he hadn’t been able to come up with a line to follow “Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.” In response, Frey offered up “It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me,” and a songwriting collaboration was born.

Produced by Glyn Johns, “Take It Easy” features Frey on lead vocals, with both Randy Meisner and Don Henley providing harmonies for the second verse. Bernie Leadon offers up harmony vocals as well, but his most notable contributions to the song are with his lead guitar and double-time banjo playing. It all added up to a hit for the band, with the song climbing all the way to #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The following year, Browne recorded his own version of “Take It Easy,” with Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel guitar and David Lindley on electric guitar, but it failed to garner him any significant chart success. On the other hand, Travis Tritt’s cover of the song for the 1993 tribute album COMMON THREAD: THE SONGS OF THE EAGLES hit #12 on the Country Singles chart. That’s a pretty strong showing, but what’s even more notable is the song’s video: it reunited the Eagles for the first time in ages, and it led to the band’s subsequent reunion:

Nice work, Mr. Tritt. Nice work, indeed.