Saturday, December 31, 2016

Take It Easy

In January of 2016, Glenn Frey passed away. He was the founder of The Eagles, the iconic band who brought us "Take it Easy", "Hotel California", and "Lyin' Eyes". My appreciation of this group grew slowly over the years. When I was a kid, I never knew these songs as Eagles songs. They were just good songs I instantly recognized and liked. When I started to put rock music in context, I learned about this band's towering presence.

So I reeled when I heard the news about Glenn. My main reaction was to learn one of his earliest songs: Take it Easy. It's a common joke that most rock songs are composed of three chords, and in Take it Easy, it's the three easiest: G, C and D. The difficulty of the song lies in the rhythm and strumming patterns, but it is a simple song with evocative lyrics.

Another aspect of the song's beauty is the harmonies. It's not just Glenn's voice on the record. His band harmonizes with him, blending their voices into a whole. I tried to harmonize with myself using GarageBand, and it made me appreciate how songs are built on many layers: music, lyrics and voices.

Probably the thing that surprised me most while I was in this zone was that Glenn didn't originate the song. Singer/songwriter Jackson Browne wrote most of Take it Easy in the early 1970s, but had trouble finishing a verse. Glenn helped him ("It's a girl, my lord, in a flat-bed Ford...") and this is why you'll see Browne/Frey in the credits.

Great music makes an artist last forever. Glenn's music, through The Eagles, will live on and on like all music that has been deemed timeless. In a year filled with bright musical stars passing on (Prince, David Bowie, George Michael) I was most affected by Glenn's. Take it Easy, 2016.