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Lighten Up While You Still Can


lighten up

Image via Jones Studios


When The Eagles sing Take It Easy, the line that stands out for me is, ‘Lighten up while you still can.’ It’s the same when Jackson Browne and James Taylor sing it.


Baby boomers know how hard it is to lighten up better than anyone. Lighting up too, but that’s another post.


Lighten up isn’t about hair, let’s get that out of the way. It’s about letting go, de-stressing, doing what you can with what you’ve got where you are.


I could list more dreary adages, but you get the idea? Lighten up, man, and not like the song tells you.


Well, I’m running down the road
tryin’ to loosen my load
I’ve got seven women on
my mind,
Four that wanna own me,
Two that wanna stone me,
One says she’s a friend of mine


This song is from the seventies, like your faithful writer here. It was my favorite song with a great ‘get out of jail’ line with ‘Lighten up while you still can.’


The singer’s got seven women on his mind. Seven? Is he a walking warning for STDs? Seven women on my mind never happened. Three maybe, but none wanted to stone me, own me, or be a friend.


The four that want to own the singer probably invited him to meet the parents. He met the parents of the two that want to stone him and it didn’t turn out well.


The woman that says she’s a friend probably doesn’t know him very well. If she did she’s want to own him, or stone him. That’s how it worked in the 70’s. The ‘free love’ Sixties were long gone and the ladies were tired of hearing about it.


Take It easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy


A song on my set list, Me and Bobby McGee, tells about a woman who found a place to make her stand. Bobby slipped away from her road tripping Romeo somewhere near Salinas to find the home he hoped she’d find.


She left a sad sack of a man who’d trade all of his tomorrows for just one yesterday to hold Bobby’s body close one more time.


Absent that possibility, since Bobby probably found someone to settle down with and start a family and go to Student/Teacher nights, coach soccer, and be home at night, her sad sack non-committal brokenhearted loser ex-boyfriend ruins the lives of other women he meets.


I’m thinking he’s got seven women on his mind, soon to be eight when he gets his new girl to lighten up while she still can. (Pssst, tell her you’re the last chance she has at the best time of her life.)


Well, I’m a standing on a corner
in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed
Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me


Small town girl in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look because she’s bored to death and wants a way out. And this is the guy, except he’ll disappear when she tells him the plans she has figured out, like settling down, starting a family, school meetings, coaching.


Come on, baby, don’t say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is
gonna save me
We may lose and we may win though
we will never be here again
so open up, I’m climbin’ in,
so take it easy


The difference here is a girl in flatbed Ford might have a daddy or brother with a nasty attitude about guys who hit town, hit up the local talent, and leave. Especially when it someone related to people looking for any reason to kick ass.


Climb in with a small town girl in her small town and you might be limping away after a well deserved curb stomping.


Well I’m running down the road trying to loosen
my load, got a world of trouble on my mind
lookin’ for a lover who won’t blow my
cover, she’s so hard to find


Ain’t it the truth. A lover who won’t blow your cover is so hard to find because they’ve heard your routine before, maybe fell for it a few times. You, my friend, are no mystery to small town girls. They will give you the biggest fake out of your life, and you will take it.


Take it easy, take it easy
don’t let the sound of your own
wheels make you crazy
come on baby, don’t say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is
gonna save me, oh oh oh
Oh we got it easy
We oughta take it easy


Sure you’ve got it easy. Keep telling yourself how easy you’ve got it. It’s easy because you’re doing it wrong.


Women want the bad boy, but only for so long. That doesn’t mean they want the good guy on the rebound. Take note, millennials.


What they want is someone they can keep on the rails, between the lines, on the road. We don’t have to be perfect, just resilient.


Be who you are, and if a woman thinks you are who YOU think you are, keep talking. Lighten up while you still can, bro.


lighten up

Doing it the right way in Winslow. Image via DM Studio

About David Gillaspie
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