Hotel California



"Hotel California" was the title song from Eagles' album of the same name, and was released as a single at the end of 1976. It is one of the best-known songs of the Album Oriented Rock era.

The lyrics of the song describe the title establishment, a hotel where "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave". Due to the lyrics' cryptic nature, a wide range of interpretations have been proffered. On the surface, the song is a tale of a weary traveler who becomes trapped in a nightmarish hotel that at first appeared tempting; as a metaphor the song may be commenting on drug addiction or simply the decadent lifestyle the hugely successful band had been caught up in. The lyrics include several examples of wordplay and can be interpreted on multiple levels, for example reference to "spirit" in the line " ... we haven't had that spirit here since 1969" can be read on three levels, that of the ghost of the 1960's, enthusiasm, and the wine requested by the narrator. The lyric "They stab it with their steely knives/But they just can't kill the beast" is a nod to Steely Dan's lyric "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening" in their song "Everything You Did".

The original version of the song is performed in a blend of slow rock/reggae stylings, opening with a long, repeated 12-string guitar motif (Glenn Frey is quoted as saying the main rhythm of the song is "reggae played backwards"). During the verses, guitar and bass provide melodic counterpoint to the vocal. The end section of the song consists of a series of guitar solos building to a multi-layered variation on the opening theme with multiple guitars in chorus. The song is also well known for its guitar solos, which are performed by both Joe Walsh and Don Felder. Felder plays the first part of the solo and Walsh picks up the second part before they play together to close out the song.

Songwriting credits for the song are shared by three members of the group: Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Don Felder, who came up with the guitar riff intro. On the original album it states "copyright in dispute". The Copyright Office has verified that a compulsory license was used and there is underlying music, which means that the song cannot be played on jukeboxes, in marching bands, in karaoke, or in stage productions. The amount of underlying music used and original source remain a mystery of rock with great speculation.

As one of the group's most popular and well-known songs, "Hotel California" has been a concert staple for the band since its release; performances of the song appear on the Eagles' 1980 live album and, in an acoustic version, on the 1994 Hell Freezes Over reunion concert CD and video release. The Eagles performed the song in 1998 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The song may have been influenced by the 1969 Jethro Tull song "We Used to Know", from the album Stand Up. The chord progressions are nearly identical, and the bands toured together prior to the release of the song. Additionally, fans have noticed thematic similarities with Don Henley's solo single "Sunset Grill".

Over the years the song has been associated with rumours of Satanic elements and claims that the band members themselves were responsible for it; adherents point lyrics referring to stabbing "The Beast". The band has denied any connection to Satanism or the occult.

According to Don Henley, the line "warm smell of colitas" refers to colitas, which are a desert flower with a warm, heady smell. However, the plant with the nearest spelling is coleus, which has no distinct aroma.

According to Irving Azoff (Eagles management),

...during the writing of the song “Hotel California,” by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, the word “colitas” was translated for them by their Mexican-American road manager as “little buds.”

Colitas is little tails, but here the author is referring to “colas,” the tip of a marijuana branch, where it is more potent and with more sap — said to be the best part of the leaves.

"Hotel California" won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1978. It is often rated highly in magazine and radio song polls: Rolling Stone magazine, for example, states it is the forty-ninth greatest song of all time.

A few cover versions of "Hotel California" have been released, notably by flamenco band the Gipsy Kings (featured in the 1998 film The Big Lebowski). In 2004, it was recorded by American Idol reject William Hung. Australian band The Cat Empire recorded a version of the song in French (L'Hotel Californie), for Triple J's Like A Version segment and subsequent CD compilation. Marc Anthony has often sung the song live. British Band Alabama 3 (known in the US as A3) recorded a very stripped-down, beat-heavy version on their second album, La Peste. Al B. Sure! covered the song on his 1990 album "Private Times...And the Whole 9!".

A Reggae Version from Moonraisers has been downloaded on mp3.com more than a half a million times.

* In popular television show, CSI:Crime Scene Investigation episode Pirates of the Third Reich, the song is referred to in a comparison to a clinic. Greg Sanders says "This clinic is like the Hotel California. You can check in anytime you like but you might never leave."
* ESPN announcer Chris Berman would often welcome viewers to the Hotel California when he'd broadcast baseball games from California cities.
* A Scottish Eagles tribute band have named themselves "Hotel California" after this song, and frequently finish their sets with it.
* The song is played in the final scene of The Sopranos Season 3 premiere episode "Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood", as Tony and Carmella are having an ordinary conversation in their basement, as the FBI listens, having successfully placed a listening device in a lamp.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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