DAY 16 - 30 SONGS IN 30 DAYS

All help All

 Day 16: A song that’s a classic favorite

Glenn Frey said that originally "We decided to create something strange, just to see if we could do it," and that the song was meant to mimic the imagery of the 1965 novel The Magus by John Fowles, about a man in an unfamiliar rural setting who is unsure about what he is experiencing.

Don Henley has given a number of explanations about the song, ranging from "a journey from innocence to experience" to "a sociopolitical statement". In an interview with Rolling Stone, Henley said that the song was meant to be "more of a symbolic piece about America in general", and added: "Lyrically, the song deals with traditional or classical themes of conflict: darkness and light, good and evil, youth and age, the spiritual versus the secular. I guess you could say it's a song about loss of innocence."

The song has been described as being "all about American decadence and burnout, too much money, corruption, drugs and arrogance; too little humility and heart." It has also been interpreted as an allegory about hedonism, self-destruction, and greed in the music industry of the late 1970s. Henley called it "our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles", and later said: "It'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." In the 2020 documentary, History of the Eagles, Henley reiterated:

On just about every album we made, there was some kind of commentary on the music business, and on American culture in general. The hotel itself could be taken as a metaphor not only for the myth-making of Southern California, but for the myth-making that is the American Dream, because it is a fine line between the American Dream, and the American nightmare.

In a 2009 interview, The Plain Dealer music critic John Soeder asked Henley if he regretted writing the lines "So I called up the captain / 'Please bring me my wine' / He said, 'We haven't had that spirit here since 1969'" because wines are fermented while spirits are distilled. Henley responded:

Thanks for the tutorial and, no, you're not the first to bring this to my attention—and you're not the first to completely misinterpret the lyric and miss the metaphor. Believe me, I've consumed enough alcoholic beverages in my time to know how they are made and what the proper nomenclature is. But that line in the song has little or nothing to do with alcoholic beverages. It's a sociopolitical statement. My only regret would be having to explain it in detail to you, which would defeat the purpose of using literary devices in songwriting and lower the discussion to some silly and irrelevant argument about chemical processes.

In his Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Volume 1, Steve Sullivan theorizes that the "spirit" that the Hotel California hasn't had since 1969 refers to the spirit of social activism of the 1960s, and how disco and the related pop music of the mid-1970s had turned away from it.

The metaphorical character of the story related in the lyrics has inspired a number of conjectural interpretations by listeners. In the 1980s, the Rev. Paul Risley of Cornerstone Church in Burlington, Wisconsin, alleged that "Hotel California" referred to a San Francisco hotel that was purchased by Anton LaVey and converted into his Church of Satan. Other rumors suggested that the Hotel California was the Camarillo State Mental Hospital, which was shut down in 1997, and redeveloped into California State University Channel Islands.

The term "colitas" in the first stanza ("warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air") has been interpreted as a sexual slang or a reference to marijuana. "Colitas" means "little tails" in Spanish; in Mexican slang it refers to buds of the cannabis (marijuana) plant. According to Glenn Frey, the "warm smell" is "colitas ... it means little tails, the very top of the plant." The Eagles' manager Irving Azoff appears to lend support to the marijuana hypothesis; however, Felder said: "The colitas is a plant that grows in the desert that blooms at night, and it has this kind of pungent, almost funky smell. Don Henley came up with a lot of the lyrics for that song, and he came up with colitas."

Other interpretations of the song include heroin addiction and cannibalism. On the various interpretations, Henley said: "Some of the wilder interpretations of that song have been amazing. It was really about the excesses of American culture and certain girls we knew. But it was also about the uneasy balance between art and commerce."

*(borrowed from Wikipedia)


[Dedicated to Kinsman Hall because you can check out anytime you want 
but you can never leave...]

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