In 1972, the Eagles made a Route 66 stop in Arizona nationally famous with the No. 12 (No. 8 in Canada!) hit “Take it Easy.” I think we all know the line I’m talking about, and we’ve all heard the lyric so many times that I probably don’t even need to write it out for you here.
But I will.
Now I’m standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona / With such a fine sight to see. / It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford, / Slowin’ down to have a look at me.
You sang along, didn’t you? Or at least had the tune in your head.
Good luck getting it out. Believe it or not, this scene is actually based on a true story.
As legend has it, Jackson Browne (yes, the one who needed a doctor’s help with his eyes) was on his way to Sedona via Route 66 when his car broke down in the middle of Winslow.
So, at some point or another during that unfortunate ordeal, he probably stood on some corner in the city of Winslow, presumably waiting for a tow or a jump. But the girl in the Ford?
That, according to Mr. Browne, “was an image that came from east Flag.”
He says that particular experience occurred outside what used to be a Der Wienerschnitzel in Flagstaff, on what’s now the corner of US 180/Business 40/Historic Route 66 and Switzer Canyon Drive.
Now, you may be thinking: Wait, Jackson Browne was never a member of the Eagles. And you’d be right. But he did live in the same Santa Monica apartment complex as Eagles lead man Glenn Frey.
As the story goes, Browne was working on this song one day when Glenn dropped by and helped him finish the iconic second verse.
“Take it Easy” catapulted the Eagles into the American consciousness. Jackson Browne released his own version a year later, but his single did not fare as well.
Winslow commemorates its place in pop culture with a statue of Glenn Frey circa 1972 on the corner of Old Hwy 66 (W 2nd St) and Kinsley Ave. Meanwhile, the owners of the Route 66 Dog Haus in Flagstaff claim their corner as the true location inspiration.
Where do you think the true corner is? We say, whichever one gives you that peaceful, easy feeling.
John LaBarbera is a spokesman for Arizona Department of Transportation. Visit azdot.gov.