For all the festivals that take place in cities throughout America on a regular basis, we’d be hard pressed to think of another one that came about because of a single line in a classic rock song – but that’s precisely how the city of Winslow, Arizona came up with the event that takes place annually in their neck of the woods.
The song, of course, is “Take It Easy,” a song co-written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, and if you don’t know the origins of this particular tune, allow us to educate you on that front before we get into the festival...
Browne had begun composing the song in 1971 for his debut album, but he couldn’t seem to finish it. Frey, one of Browne’s neighbors at the time, liked what he’d heard of the song and wanted to know what, if anything, had happened to it, and Browne was forced to admit that he hadn’t been able to come up with a line to follow “Well, I’m a-standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona.” In response, Frey offered up “It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me,” and – voila! – a songwriting collaboration for the ages was born.
Produced by Glyn Johns, the Eagles’ version of “Take It Easy” features Frey on lead vocals, with both Randy Meisner and Don Henley providing harmonies for the second verse. Bernie Leadon offers up harmony vocals as well, but his most notable contributions to the song are with his lead guitar and double-time banjo playing. It all added up to a hit for the band, with the song climbing all the way to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Fast-forward to May 29, 1997. Winslow, Arizona’s volunteer organization known as the Standin’ on the Corner Foundation embarks on a quest to develop a park at the heart of downtown Winslow to commemorate “Take It Easy,” with 14 local volunteers kicking off a project which would – after two long, hard years of work – result in the Standin’ on the Corner Park, featuring a two-story mural by artist John Pugh and a life-sized bronze statue by artist Ron Adamson named “Easy.”
Right around the same time, Winslow also kicked off an annual event called the Standin’ on the Corner Festival, featuring live music, vendors of arts, crafts, and food, a live auction, and even horseshoe and cornhole tournaments. Since then, Winslow has also added a statue of the late, great Mr. Frey to their city, providing yet another reason for rock fans to make a pilgrimage to this lyrically important location.