Take It Easy

Composed by Jackson Browne / Duke Ellington / Glenn Frey / Mad Lion

Song Review by

Jackson Browne wrote "Take It Easy" in 1971 while working on his debut album. It encapsulated many of the usual themes of his work, touching on the road, women, love as salvation, and an ambivalent sense of fatalism. 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." All those women on his mind notwithstanding, a lover "who won't blow my cover" is hard to find, so he keeps on the road, knowing that "we may lose and we may win, but we will never be here again." While Browne was working on the song, his friend Glenn Frey heard it and liked it, and Browne gave it to him for his new group, the Eagles. Frey added a new verse that lightened the song's mood considerably. Now, the narrator was standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ, being eyed by a woman in a car 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. And the Eagles added a lively bluegrass/rock arrangement with a prominent banjo played by Bernie Leadon, as well as their trademark harmonies. In that form, "Take It Easy" became the debut single by the Eagles, released June 24, 1972. It didn't hurt, of course, that the record had Jackson Browne's name on it, since Browne had just become a national success with his Top Ten single "Doctor My Eyes" and self-titled debut album. "Take It Easy" became a summer hit, reaching the Top Ten and launching the Eagles' career. In recognition of its country leanings, the first cover of the song was by Billy Mize, and it made the country singles charts in September. Browne reclaimed the song by using it as the leadoff track on his second album, For Everyman, released in October 1973. "Take It Easy" remained a signature number for the Eagles, the quintessential song that defined their image. They placed it on their compilation Eagles/Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, which became the best-selling album of the 20th century. They re-recorded it for Eagles Live (1980) and for their reunion album Hell Freezes Over (1994). Travis Tritt recorded the song for the country-styled Eagles tribute album Common Thread in 1993, and his version made the country Top 40.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Eagles 1972 Elektra / Asylum 3:32
Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 1976 Rhino 3:31
The Very Best of the Eagles [1994] 1994 Elektra 3:32