Song: Hotel California by Eagles

 Place: The Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles, California

The Beverly Hills Hotel, also known as The Pink Palace
Lyrics passage You can check out any time you like,
but you can never leave.
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The Beverly Hills Hotel, also known as The Pink PalaceThe Beverly Hills Hotel, also known as The Pink Palace
"You've arrived on a rather special night. It's one of the master's... affairs."

Doesn't this story have that kind of ambiance? One of the cool things about the Eagles' "Hotel California" is that the story it tells is one of the oldest tropes in the book - the weary traveler who stops at an inn for the night, finds it at first delightful, but after a while it dawns on us that something is not quite right. And then it's too late to leave! You're TRAPPED, bwah ha ha haaaa! You're a slave to the ghost mansion now. You will have to spend eternity here, welcoming new guests who were once just like you...

Is there any honor that this song hasn't won? 49th greatest song of all time, says Rolling Stone magazine. One of the 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll, says the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Record of the Year, says the 1977 Grammy awards. Ranked #8 in the Top 100 Guitar Solos, says Guitar Magazine. A zillion comments on Songfacts. Live in California for a while and you're bound to catch somebody humming it. It augers into your brain and stays planted, resurfacing when you're trying to sleep.

Like any famous, popular song with poetic, metaphor-laden lyrics, it attracts its share of wild mass guessing and bogus interpretations. So, just to get it out of the way: This song has nothing to do with cancer, Satanism, mental hospitals, cannibalism, drugs, the Kennedy assassination, 9/11, the Gunpowder Conspiracy, Rosicrucianism, same-sex marriage, predicting Michael Jackson's death, CIA acid experiments, or Roswell aliens. Not that this will stop anybody.

The band's been endlessly plagued by people who don't get it. As recently as a 2009 interview for Plain Dealer newspaper, the music critic asked Don Henley if he regretted calling wine a "spirit" in the lyrics, since wine (at least the unfortified kind) is a different thing from alcoholic spirits. The reply is too long to go into here, but Henley basically told the critic to go run west until his hat floats, for being the 1000th idiot to not see that he was talking about "spirit" as in character, gumption, soul, not "spirit" as in vodka. Don Henley is ready to work a phone desk in technical support.

Or he could borrow Don McLean's answer. When a reporter asked McLean what American Pie meant, McLean responded in taciturn fashion, "It means I never have to work again!" It must be lonely being a wandering minstrel in the land of the deaf.

While we're interpreting, "colitas" are a kind of desert flower, also known as Antelope Sage. And the word "steely" means "steel," the exact metal you'd expect knives to be made of, but the use of the word was a poke at the band Steely Dan, playing lyrics-tag after Steely Dan included a line referencing the Eagles in "Everything You Did."

Bottom line: There's something dark and ugly lying underneath the happy exterior of California, and by extension the United States. That's all "Hotel California" is saying. But it says it with unsurpassed poetry and some of the sweetest guitar notes plucked by Don Felder and Joe Walsh. If we must pin a physical place to this metaphor, we'll go with the Beverly Hills Hotel, which the Eagles used for the album cover.
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COMMENTS: 5pages [ 01 ] 02 >

Kim from T. Fl. from Tampait is about of different things but brings me back to my teen age years. also any one can check out any time they want to but why whrn you have great music like this/ dye hard rock n. roll lover
Mr. Crowley from HellNo the song wasn't written in Rancho Santa Fe
Sharon Stone Flight 402 Survivor from CAI am a survivor of life and love! I was on flight 401 and lived. As the plane hit the ground I was throw from the plane several hundred feet. I passed out and realized both of my legs were broken. My jaw was broken and half of my teeth were missing. I was covered in blood but I survived.
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 Video: Hotel California

 Place: The Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles, California


Song : Hotel California

An alternative interpretation of the meaning of the lyrics is that the song is a description of the journey from Need to Love and Marriage to Divorce and ultimately to the impossibility of regaining the life and happiness of the pre-divorce state.

Initially the traveler is feeling the need of a relationship ("My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night"). The traveler meets his love and gets married ("There she stood in the doorway. I heard the mission bell"). A marriage commitment opens up the possibility of happiness but also the traveler is aware and vulnerable to the possibility of intense unhappiness ("And I was thinking to myself, this could be heaven or this could be hell")

Unfortunately the marriage dissolves and his love becomes obsessed with money ("Her mind is Tiffany-twisted") where Tiffany" refers to the very expensive jewelry store, Tiffany & Co. With the divorce there is the division of property - she got the Mercedes Benz. After the breakup when he sees her with any guys she reassures him that the pretty, pretty boys" are just friends." In this new world of being single the other singles he meets do their dance in the courtyard" of life. They generally fall into two groups: There are those who can't stop talking about their Ex ("Some dance to remember") and there are those who don't what to say anything at all about their past marriage ("some dance to forget").

Now in this world of being divorced he longs to return the pre-divorced state of happiness ("So I called up the captain, please bring me my wine"), but he finds that his happiness is now irrevocably in the past ("We haven't had that spirit here since 1969").

Deep into the post-divorce single's scene with "mirrors on the ceiling, the pink champagne on ice" he is reminded that "we are all just prisoners here, of our own device." He and others want this divorce nightmare to be over, yet - "they stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast." Now frustrated, he panics and is "running for the door. I had to find the passage back to the place I was before" But he is brought up short when the night man informs him that "You can checkout any time you like (commit suicide), but you can never leave" (become pre-divorced).

There are two choruses in the song and each mention the "Hotel California." Around the time the song was written, California was experiencing the highest divorce rate in the nation. Each chorus has lines that remember his past marriage ("Such a lovely place") and his past lover ("Such a lovely face"). The first chorus indicates that there can always be more divorces ("Plenty of room at the Hotel California, any time of year, you can find it here"). The second chorus points out that as a part of divorce you will always "bring your alibis." (thanks, David - Redwood City, CA)

Album : Hotel California
Released : 1976
US chart position : 1
UK chart position : 8

More facts for Hotel California
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