Friday, August 01, 2008

The 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
And I was thinking to myself,
'This could be Heaven or 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 face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year, you can find it here

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that 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 face
They livin' it up at the Hotel California
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 checkout any time you like,
but you can never leave!


The song's lyrics describe the title establishment as a luxury resort where "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." On the surface, the song tells the tale of a weary traveler who becomes trapped in a nightmarish hotel that at first appeared inviting and tempting. The song is generally understood to be an allegory about hedonism and self-destruction in the Southern California music industry of the late 1970s; Don Henley called it "our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles" and later reiterated "[i]t's basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about."

During a July 17, 2008 appearance on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite Radio, Don Felder described the origins of the lyrics:
"Don Henley and Glen wrote most of the words. All of us kind of drove into LA at night. Nobody was from California, and if you drive into LA at night... you can just see this glow on the horizon of lights, and the images that start running through your head of Hollywood and all the dreams that you have, and so it was kind of about that... what we started writing the song about. Coming into LA... and from that Life In The Fast Lane come out of it, and Wasted Time and a bunch of other songs."

The abstract and metaphoric nature of the song has led listeners to their own interpretations over the years, including some claims, spread by word of mouth and internet, of Satanic aspects. Other rumors suggested that the "Hotel California" was a mental hospital, a real hotel run by cannibals, or a metaphor for cancer. These claims have been consistently refuted by the band.
The term "colitas" in the first stanza of the song is a desert flower, also known as Antelope sage or Colita de Rata. Both Don Henley and Don Felder have repeatedly and publicly stated that Colitas are "heady desert flowers." Others assert that "colitas" is a Spanish term for "little tails." This is a reference to the buds of the Cannabis plant.

The use of the word "steely" in the lyric (referring to knives) was a playful nod to band Steel Dan, who had included the lyric "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening" in their song Everything You Did, according to Glenn Frey's liner notes for The Very Best of the Eagles.

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Blogger Paul said...

Brings back memories of my school days where many christians attacked this song. Did not make sense to me as even if it was a song about Satanism, the lyrics seemed to warn people about it! So why attack the song?

5:13 AM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

ditto Paul's comment. i was also told (many yrs back) that the song was about the first Satanic Church of USA which started in 1969...why is that year in the lyrics anyway?

11:33 PM  
Blogger sp lim said...

Sorry off topic a bit. Anyone can interpret the 'Sound of Silence' by Simon & Garfunkel? I love that song but sometimes the lyrics gave me the creeps. 'Hello darkness my old friend. You come to talk with me again ....'

10:00 PM  
Blogger Blogpastor said...

Thanks for redeeming a catchy tune. If John Newton were around, he might have put it to Christian lyrics and sang it in church, erh, his church. :)

11:09 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi Paul, Alwyn, Blogpastor,

I always like that song. I was a bit surprised when I was told it was satanic so I did some background research.

Yes, it's a good song.

hi sp Lim, I have just posted that for you :)

7:54 PM  

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