No, we don’t owe this terrific tune to the Eagles, it was written mainly by Browne, which is why it’s the best frickin’ song the frickin’ Eagles ever did (though some would argue Glenn Frey deserved his generous writing co-credit for what’s said to have been the small but crucial contribution of the lines Well I’m a-standin’ on a corner / in Winslow Arizona ). While more musically upbeat than a lot of his classics, Take it Easy has Browne’s musical and lyrical fingerprints all over it, with its soaring melody and overarching sentiment that you’d better lighten up while you still can, because you’re only going round once, and as Ferris Bueller once admonished us, life goes by so fast you could miss it. Don’t obsess over meaning! Feeling lost? In a jam? Then take to the highways, and follow the setting sun. In later years Browne returned often to the theme of finding some sort of solace out there on the road, under the vast Western sky.
With the strange exception of the early hit Doctor My Eyes, which likewise was nowhere near as cheerful as that first casual listen might lead you to imagine, Browne never had a lot of action in the Billboard Hot 100. The Eagles, for all their many sins, took this one close to the top, and it’s been popular ever since, which is almost enough to atone for Hotel California (almost). I hope its principal composer is still dining out on the royalties.