Some months ago I added the words ‘with occasional music’ to the tagline for this blog. Over the four years I’ve been doing this I have shared many music videos with you, and last week as part of the 3 Days 3 Quotes challenge I chose music as one of the themed days for my quotes. I’ve been thinking about starting this series for quite a while now, and here at last is the first of my new #SaturdaySongs. I’m hoping that I have the discipline to do this every Saturday, and that you will like them and keep coming back each week to see what I have chosen to share. The point of this isn’t just to give you songs I like, though it is a given that I do actually like the songs I share! What I’m doing with this series is to highlight songs which have an importance in my life, that represent a memory for me. In preparing for this series I have identified more than 30 songs that I could feature, so I don’t think I’ll be running out of ideas any time soon.
Choosing the first song for this new series was pretty easy: you don’t have to look very hard to see that I am an Eagles fan – where do you think I got the name for my blog from? The spirit of that title chimes perfectly with my aim in retirement, and was a natural for me to choose when I ‘rebranded’ a couple of years ago. Take It Easy is the opening track on the Eagles’ first album, which was imaginatively titled Eagles. It is a song largely written by Jackson Browne, who gave it to Glenn Frey – a room mate in Los Angeles – to finish off and record with his new band, who became the Eagles. In a later interview Browne credited Frey with adding some words that he couldn’t have written himself, although they related to an experience of his own, and with arranging the song in the way that it came out. Browne also issued his own version the following year on his second album, For Everyman, but by then it was destined to play second fiddle to the Eagles, who had achieved a major hit with it. This version is from a live performance in 1977, and shows why the Eagles were such a huge breath of fresh air for music, at least until disco and punk came along to destroy the 1970s:
Don’t underestimate the popularity of this band. The Eagles have sold over 150 million albums, including 42 million for their first Greatest Hits compilation and 32 million for Hotel California. They disbanded in 1980 but reformed in 1994 and have toured consistently to huge audiences since then. They may not be fashion icons, and may have been reviled as much as revered, but they have kept a lot of music fans very happy over the years. I regret that I never saw them play live, but I did see Jackson Browne some years ago and he obligingly sang Take It Easy – it is one of those ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ moments that you never forget. As Don Henley says on the Hell Freezes Over live album, after the band reformed, ‘this is where it all began.’
Country rock, as this became known, has been a major part of my musical taste since the 1960s, starting with the Byrds, the Loving Spoonful, then passing through Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in all their incarnations, Gram Parsons, Jackson Browne, Poco, the Grateful Dead, Little Feat and many more. The Eagles’ first album was released in 1972, which was the year I went to university. Obviously, I’d heard Take It Easy and some of the other tracks before, but hadn’t listened to the whole album until my first weekend at uni. One of the guys along the corridor had the album and we spent many happy hours in his room, putting the world to rights over coffee and the occasional alcoholic beverage, with this as the soundtrack. I soon bought the album, which has become a longstanding favourite and still gets played to this day.
I was 18/19 when this was released, that age when we are filled with dreams about changing the world. Maybe those dreams are likely to remain just that, just hopes and wishes, but the music we grew up with remains with us for ever. To illustrate the fact that this is an iconic song not just for me, have you heard of this before? One of the lines in the song – credited to Glenn Frey by Jackson Browne – is the one about Browne’s own experience. It runs ‘I was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see.‘ I’ve never been to Winslow but if I ever do I want to see this statue, built in recognition of the song. I’m suitably impressed!
I’ve mentioned that Jackson Browne also recorded his song. To save you having to seek it out, here it is:
You may not be aware that a tribute album – Common Thread – was released some years ago to the Eagles’ songs, with a stellar array of country musicians performing some of their favourites. The version of Take It Easy on that album was recorded by the hirsute Travis Tritt. The video for his version has him hanging around with the guys, a bit like I was doing back in the 70s. Only in his case, the guys, who are also his backing band, are actually the Eagles – a nice touch:
The story goes that it was at Tritt’s request that the Eagles appeared in his video. They had disbanded in 1980 but it appears that the pleasure that they show in the video in getting together again was genuine, as within two months they had reformed the band.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this first trip back through my musical mind. If so, please come back soon, tell all your friends, etc etc 🙂