The Eagles’ Hotel California

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The Eagles’ Hotel California

The Eagles' Hotel California

Soft Rock Music

The song was written by group members Don Felder, Glenn Frey, and Don Henley. People often ask what the song is truly about. The writers of the song have explained at various times that it’s a metaphor for the excesses of American culture and materialism, particularly as exemplified in Los Angeles. Henley said, “We were all middle-class kids from the Midwest. Hotel California was our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles.” They felt there was an uneasy balance between art and commerce, and it can be seen as a mythical journey from innocence to experience. The image of the hotel is interesting in that it accepts travelers and gives the feeling of people on the move, but as the lyrics say: “You can check out any time you like, / But you can never leave!” Oh my.

The song was released in December 1976 on their album titled Hotel California. The single came out in February, 1977, backed with “Pretty Maids All in a Row.” In 1977, “Hotel California” had phenomenal international charting success. It went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and in Canada. It was #2 in France and Switzerland, #5 in Norway and New Zealand, #6 in Germany and The Netherlands, and #8 in the U.K. It earned platinum certification (digital download) in the U.S. and Italy, gold in the U.S. for the physical record, and silver certification in the U.K.

On the track were Don Felder (12- and 6-string electric guitars, backing vocals), Don Henley (lead and backing vocals, drums, percussion,) Glen Frey (12-string acoustic guitar, backing vocals), Joe Walsh (electric guitar, backing vocals), and Randy Meisner (bass, backing vocals). The lineup of the group has changed over the years, of course, and they have continued to record, perform, and tour.

Here’s a bit of trivia about the album cover. The photo of the hotel on the album cover is the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is often a stopping place for Hollywood stars. David Alexander and John Kush took the picture. They sat in a cherry-picker 60 feet about Sunset Boulevard and the rush-hour traffic  to find the right shot at sunset.

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Here are the lyrics to “Hotel California” by The Eagles:

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night.

There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
I was thinking to myself
‘This could be heaven and this could be Hell’
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face.
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

So I called up the Captain,
‘Please bring me my wine’
He said, ‘we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-nine’
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face.
Livin’ it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise), bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said, ‘we are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
‘Relax’ said the night man,
‘We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!’

For other songs by The Eagles: “Take it Easy” and “Witchy Woman.”

For More 70s Tunes

The System has daily featured music from all sorts of genres of 1970s music. You’re welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections in The System. Thank you for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed “Hotel California” by The Eagles.

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