Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Randy Meisner of The Eagles pose for a group portrait in London in 1973.
Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

'Take It Easy': The Story Behind The Eagles Reunion Rallying Point

Long before Travis Tritt recorded it as a tribute to The Eagles, "Take It Easy" earned respect for movers-and-shakers in the West Coast folk and country-rock scene, including co-writer Jackson Browne.

Browne, a key player in everything from the early days of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to the beginnings of David Geffen's Asylum Records, started writing the song with the intention of cutting it for his self-titled 1972 debut album. However, Browne hit a roadblock on the second verse. Glenn Frey, a neighbor and founding member of The Eagles, cured Browne's writer's block by finishing the tourism-boosting line "Well, I'm a-standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona..." with famous next words "Such a fine sight to see. It's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin' down to take a look at me."

"I knew Glenn Frey from playing these clubs - we kept showing up at the same clubs and singing on the open-mic nights," Browne said in a radio interview. "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. 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."

"Take It Easy" became The Eagles' first single in May 1972 and appeared one month later on the band's self-titled debut. It features the tight harmonies fans would come to expect, with Don Henley and Randy Meisner swapping harmony vocals and Bernie Leadon providing that distinct banjo accompaniment.

Browne later cut the song for his second album, 1973's For Everyman. His version features the Flying Burrito Brothers' Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel.

Fast-forward to 1993, a time when country music was a lucrative business in part because many of its young stars embraced The Eagles, Browne and other influences from their childhoods. Clint Black, Suzy Bogguss, Lorrie Morgan, John Anderson, Alan Jackson, future Eagle Vince Gill, Tritt and others covered classic rock staples for Common Thread: The Songs of The Eagles, a project which raised funds for the Walden Woods Project.

Tritt's "Take It Easy" cover remains the CMA award-winning album's signature tune. It fit Tritt's "Put Some Drive in Your Country" mission statement like a glove, but that's not why the country cover's a huge part of Eagles lore.

The music video for Tritt's version featured the Eagles lineup from before the group's acrimonious 1980 split: Frey, Henley, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. Working together with Tritt inspired the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band to set individual differences aside and start a reunion. An ongoing comeback as likely as Hell freezing over has lasted nearly three times as long as the original nine-year run that brought us Hotel California and other seminal albums.

As for Winslow, Arizona, the city near Flagstaff predicted the rise of selfies and Instagram-friendly destinations with the 1999 unveiling of the Standin' on The Corner Park.

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"Take It Easy" Lyrics

Well, I'm a-runnin' down the road, tryin' to loosen my load
I've got seven women on my mind
Four that want to own me, two that want to stone me
One said she's a friend of mine

Take it easy, take it easy
Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
Don't even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
Take it easy

Now I'm a-standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona
With such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford
Slowin' down to have a look at me

Come on, baby, don't say maybe
I've got to know if your sweet love is gonna save me
We may lose and we may win
But we will never be here again
Open up, I'm climbin' in to take it easy

Well, I'm a-runnin' down the road, tryin' to loosen my load
Got a world of trouble on my mind
I'm lookin' for a lover who won't blow my cover
She's just a little hard to find

Take it easy, take it easy
Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy
Come on, baby, don't say maybe
I've got to know if your sweet love is gonna save me

This story previously ran in January of 2021. 

READ MORE: 'Seven Bridges Road' The Eagles' Stunning Harmony Showpiece, Has Country Music Roots