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Song Stories

“Take It Easy”

Eagles | 1972

During a break in the recording his first album, Jackson Browne took a road trip across the Southwest, getting a start on "Take It Easy" along the way. When he got back to L.A., Browne played it for Glenn Frey, who asked if his new band the Eagles could record it when it was done. "I said, 'Just finish it,' and he wrote the last verse and turned it into a real song," Browne recalled. "It was their first single, and what those guys did with it was incredible," said Browne. Frey's verse contained the indelible line, "I was standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona," words that helped revitalize that small town, which lost commerce when historic Route 66 was supplanted by Interstate 40, by encouraging tourists to mimic the song's protagonist.

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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