Much as with last week’s look back at Pink Floyd, today’s entry is a song that I associate with a particularly strong, significant memory, rather than one which directly changed my life in and of itself.
That track? The Eagles’ debut 1972 single, Take it Easy.
For this one, I need to take you back some 23 years after the song’s original release to the summer of 1995.
It had been a turbulent time for my family. A year previously, my father -a truck driver by trade- had been involved in a horrific accident in which he was taken off the road by a speeding car and ploughed down a motorway embankment.
The accident was severe enough to land him intensive care, and I remember that for the longest time, things were that bad that -as a 10 year old kid- it was decided it would be best for me, my seven year old sister and three year-old brother not to visit.
I remember what a terrible impact the accident had on my family, how hard my mum had to work to hold down a job to support us during the day, rush to the hospital at night and still make sure her three children were fed, clothed and looked after.
I remember family gathering around, and everybody doing all they could to help.
I remember times spent crying because I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on. I remember the relief at finally being able to go to the hospital, and I even remember one particular time when I was watching my dad working on his rehab at the hospital.
I got so overheated that I threw up and promptly passed out. The nurses popped me in a wheel chair and me and Dad were both wheeled back to his bed.
A year later..
Fast forward a year to eighteen months later. Dad would never be physically 100% again, but he was was well enough to go back to work, to drive his truck (something that must have taken so much courage to do that I can’t even imagine) and look after his family.
At around the same time, Dad’s boss had allowed us free use of his cabin out in Keswick, a beautiful market town in the Lake District which, despite only being two hours up the motorway from where we lived, felt like an entirely different world.
I mean this place was gorgeous. The scenery was made up of lush forests, magnificent hills that seemed to tower upwards into the clouds like something out of a fairytale, and vast open waters bathed in the brilliant white glow of the sun.
As a kid who spent the first eleven years of my life on a council estate in a run-down working class town, you have to believe me when I tell you that all of this was like nothing I had ever seen before in my life.
We went up there in the summer of 1995 for a holiday, and the funny thing is, I don’t actually remember much of what happened that week.
There was no big event, no single life-changing incident. In fact, I don’t recall much of what we did at all. All I remember is the scenery, and driving through it every day with my dad playing The Very Best of the Eagles at full volume every where we went.
Imagine driving through long, winding open roads, dramatic cliff faces on one side and stunning views of lakes and hills stretching off as far as the eye can see, all with Take it Easy and other Eagles classics soundtracking the whole thing.
That’s what I remember. That’s about all I remember from that trip. It might not be much to some, but that remains one my favourite childhood memories.
The problem is, for the longest time I didn’t really know why I remembered that so fondly.
Honestly, I thought it was just because that ‘Eagles album was so awesome.
Even today, tracks like Witchy Woman blast through my headphones with an undeniable passion. I hear Take it Easy, by far my favourite on the album, and its so bold, and so brilliant that I find it hard to believe it was first recorded over 40 years ago.
The more I reflect on it however, it’s more than just the music.
Yes, the music was -and is- incredible. Yes the combination of those glistening guitars and radiant summer scenery will be forever etched fondly on my memory, but it was about more than that.
It was about more than just the sights and sounds of that holiday, it was about what that holiday represented. It was about getting my dad back.
It was about my family putting the terrible nightmare of that accident behind us, moving forward, and after a long, scary and painful year, finally being able to -ahem- take it easy.
Take it Easy by The Eagles is the sixth song in my list of 52 songs that changed my life. Other entries in this list are below: