Song Lyric Sunday: Take It Easy

Ralph McTell Easy.jpg

Today’s challenge for SLS, set for us by Jim in his post School Is Back, is to play a song that is about ‘educate, learn, school, teach.’ I’d guess that some of you might have seen my chosen song title for today and thought “that may have given this guy the name for his blog, but what do The Eagles’ and Jackson Browne’s song have to do with this theme?” In a word: nothing. But the song I’m playing you does, although it represents a rather interesting form of education:

[NB Please note that this is the second video I’ve uploaded for this, as the official one doesn’t seem to work for some American readers. I have no idea what the cat is doing there!]

The song’s lyrics are all quite clearly sung, but in case you missed them, they are:

I took a little day trip, found myself in France
Heard that stuff about the Paris gals and thought I’d take a chance
Wound up in a sidewalk bar, turning a lady’s head
When she agreed to go with me, why to myself I said:

“Don’t you know, didn’t you go, if you give me half a chance
I’ll be back on a steamboat, mama, gonna make it back to France
Well, you gotta take it easy, but you take it if you’re gonna find romance”

All you need is a couple of drinks, that’s what the lady said
All you gotta have is a “verre” or two of wine, and you’re much more fun in bed
I was young, inexperienced, though I gave her my all
I woke up with an aching head and read this note on the wall:

“Don’t you know, I had to go, I swear I give you half a chance
Well, you take it easy, but you take it that’s the way we do it in France
Well, you gotta take it easy, but you take it if you gonna find romance”

I learned a lesson or two that night, several the next day
Like how a man should carry himself when he goes far away
In spite of it all I’m happy you can call me a crazy fool
But I got a lesson or two that night I could never have had at school

Don’t you know, don’t you know you gotta take the chance
I’m going back on the steamboat, mama, gonna make it back to France
Well, you gotta take it easy, but you take it If you’re gonna find romance
If you’re gonna find ro-
If you’re gonna find ro-
If you’re gonna find romance


Songwriter: Ralph McTell

Copyright: Leola Music

“I got a lesson or two that night I could never have had at school”: I think we’d all have enjoyed an education like that! At a rough guess, I’d bet that many of you have never heard of Ralph McTell, and if you have it will probably be from his song Streets Of London, which he introduces in his shows, in his usual self-effacing manner, as “my greatest hit.” Ralph released his first album, Eight Frames A Second, in 1968, and I was instantly a fan: English folk singer-songwriters are right up my street (London or otherwise). He followed that the next year with Spiral Staircase, with its amazing title track. This was the opening song on his seventh album, Easy, released in March 1974. That was during my uni days, and I saw him play there a couple of times: the second of those was part of the promotional tour for this album. I recall it to this day, as the phrase has recently been in the news again, but when introducing this song he mentioned that he had been asked if it was autobiographical. He told us his reply was “I stand on the Fifth Amendment,” borrowed from across the pond but a phrase we are all familiar with!

Folk music has always been a steady seller in the UK, with only the occasional break out hit, but this album bucked the trend a little, and got to #31 in our albums chart. Two years later it was awarded a silver disc, representing 60k sales, which may not sound much to American readers but is quite an achievement in our smaller market. I bought the album from the merch desk after the show and still rank it as one of my favourites: by Ralph or by anyone else. Ralph is now 77 but is still going strong, and about to be out on tour again. He has upwards of fifty albums to his name, including live and compilation records, and there isn’t a duff one among them. He has written plenty of whimsical songs like this one, and some absolute beauties too. If you want to hear more, try Spiral Staircase, as I mentioned just now, or for some of his beauties try First Song, From Clare To Here, The Girl From The Hiring Fair, or Easter Lillies – all highly recommended but there so many others I could have suggested.

I’m looking forward to seeing what others suggest for today’s theme. For me, an obvious one would have been Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall – “we don’t need no ed-you-cayshun” – but I thought that might be too popular a choice and went for something more offbeat and less well-known. It offers an interesting take on this week’s theme and is such a fun song, too: we need that in our music, don’t we? And it showed that there is always likely to be another song with the same title! Until next time 😊🎶


36 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: Take It Easy

  1. Pingback: August | Take It Easy

    • I posted this in the hope that it would be new to everyone, and so far so good! I’m glad you liked it – he’s been a favourite of mine since his first album, and has written many wonderful songs. This is a bit of whimsy but a lot of fun. The kitty was an accident, when I had to seek an alternative after the official version didn’t play for some American readers!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never heard that one. It made me smile. He writes some great lyrics telling sad and funny stories doesn’t he? What a contrast from his album ‘Alphabet Zoo’ which I got for my daughter when she was little. I still remember the words of Kenny the Kangaroo! 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the reaction I was going for. It brought the house down when I saw him play it live, and it was just the first song of the show. He has written many wonderful songs over the years, all with the trademark of intelligence. The Alphabet Zoo show had been and gone before our first one was born so I’ve never seen or heard anything of it. Funnily enough, it isn’t on Apple Music or Spotify 😊


  3. First … THANK YOU for posting the lyrics … I started listening, but couldn’t make out a single word, so I stopped and was debating whether to go in search of lyrics or just give it up, when I saw you had posted the lyrics. Thank you from this deaf old woman! As for the song … it made me laugh! I would have guessed it was by some dude from Alabama by the country sound of it! And no, I’ve never heard of Ralph McTell before tonight! Now, this isn’t likely to make it onto my top ten playlist, but I admit it gave me a chuckle.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I ‘d known ‘Streets Of London’ but this is one I hadn’t heard. Nothing wrong with good Continental relations, hands across the channel, etc. But McTell’s not gonna kiss and tell, the gent that he is.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. as you might have guess, I’ve never heard of this song. (by the way, the video did not work for me).

    I am impressed that Ralph is going on tour at the age of 77!

    As a teacher, one of my favorite songs about school is “School’s Out for Summer!”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. New to me🎶 I had to look it up on YouTube cuz the video isn’t showing for me. 🤷🏼‍♀️ different countries, different laws…
    I enjoyed the song. Boot stomping, fiddles aren’t generally my vibe, but this one was fun. Thanks for the new music! 🎶💃🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s a fun song, and was a great way for him to start a show. Sorry about the video, but I’m pleased you could find an alternative. If it’s not too much to ask could you give me the link, please? In these circumstances I add it into the post – all part of the service!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have Pink Floyd’s song playing in my mind as I finished the post – and that is not a bad thing
    Good theme and fun post – never heard of Ralph McTell but what talent and the list of songs you gave are with checking out!

    Liked by 1 person

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