My Sunday Song – “Hotel California” by The Eagles

My Sunday #50 is “Hotel California” by The Eagles.  When you add on 2 special edition weekends, this is the 52nd week of My Sunday Song.  One full year!!  Each 10 weeks I have been switching up the theme, but I am enjoying going through my favorite songs so much that I will continue with this theme for a lot longer.

I had to choose a very special song to celebrate a year’s worth of My Sunday Song so I chose what just might be one of the songs ever written or ever played.  “Hotel California” is pure magic in songwriting.  Musically it can’t be beat and lyrically it conveys a mastery of storytelling.

“Hotel California” is the title track to the album of the same name.  The single was released in February 1977 and went all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The song also won the band a Grammy (which they did not attend because Henley didn’t believe in contests or something like that).  The song was written by Don Felder (who wrote the music), Don Henley (who wrote the lyrics) and Glenn Frey (who contributed some lyrics, but mostly helped with the outlining of the story).

One of the highlights of the song is the guitar duo of Don Felder and Joe Walsh.  The long drawn out guitar solo is probably one of the best guitar solos of any song.  The back and forth between the two is what makes bands with dual lead guitars something special.  I can listen to it over and over and never tire of listening to it.

Another great thing about the song are the many interpretations of what the song means.  Hell, even the band has said different meanings.  Don Henley in Rolling Stone magazine the following:

“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.”

Henley gave an interpretation of the meaning on November 25, 2007 on the TV news show 60 Minutes:

 “It’s a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America which was something we knew about.”

And then in 2013, Henley stated in the 2013 History of the Eagles documentary:

“It’s a song about a journey from innocence to experience.”

Whatever the meaning, the lyrics are beautiful.  The use of sensory images in the lyrics is incredible as it makes you feel, hear or even smell the song.  Lyrics like “cool wind in my hair”, “the warm smell of colitas”, “I saw a shimmering light” and “I heard the mission bell” are so descriptive that you can truly visualize what is transpiring in the song.  Such lovely imagery draws you in and captures your senses.  I don’t think I could say enough good things about the song.

One thing I found in researching the song was there is a reference to the band Steely Dan as The Eagles had a little rivalry with them as they shared the same manager.  The line is “They stab it with their steely knives, But they just can’t kill the beast.”  Apparently, a year prior to this song, Steely Dan add a reference to the Eagles in their song “Everything You Did” with the line “Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening”.

The song is still impacting people today as the Eagles have recently filed suit against a Mexican hotel that is using the “Hotel California” name.  The band states the hotel is trying to say they are connected to the band and the song to help sell t-shirts and other items and help the overall hotel.  We will see what happens with that suit and if the Eagles will win.

There are so many great stories behind the song and so many interpretations of the lyrics that I could sit here and write a novel about this song alone.  If you get bored and want to find out more, just google and there are tons of posts you could explore.  Enjoy and have a great Sunday!!

The video is from the Eagles Millennium Concert which is a great version.  I would have loved to have the actual video for the song or the Hell Freeze’s Over version, but weren’t available on Youtube.

“Hotel California”

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 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
They 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! “

Written by Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey

13 thoughts on “My Sunday Song – “Hotel California” by The Eagles

  1. Great post! Truly one of the best and most important songs in rock history.
    I always pictured the Hotel California as haunted. The line “We haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine” always makes me think of the creepy bar in The Shining.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks. I agree on its importance. Such an amazing song. I have never thought of that creepy bar from the Shining before, but now I won’t not be able to when I hear that line. That movie freaked me out as a kid…still does a little even today.

      Like

    2. I agree with Mike. Definitely one of the most important songs in rock history! I love the line “They stab it with their steely knives, But they just can’t kill the beast” . The Eagles, by the way, one of my all time favourite bands.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “One of the highlights of the song is the guitar duo of Don Felder and Joe Walsh. The long drawn out guitar solo is probably one of the best guitar solos of any song. The back and forth between the two is what makes bands with dual lead guitars something special. I can listen to it over and over and never tire of listening to it.”

    Nailed it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s a little known fact that I do not like The Eagles. However, Hotel California is a pretty good song (though I have heard it way too often)… also, Joe Walsh rules.

    Liked by 1 person

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