The Eagles had a smash hit with “Hotel California” in 1977. The song was No. 1 on the Billboard 100 during May of 1978, and it was on the chart for 19 weeks that summer. The record itself won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 1978. The song itself has had an enormous cultural impact on popular music all over the world with bands in the Czech Republic and Romania doing cover versions in their own languages. The meaning of the lyrics themselves has been debated ever since the song came out. Some folks think the song carries demonic undertones, particularly these two phrases: “… We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969,” and “… stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast.” In reality, the first phrase refers to the fact that in 1969, it was no longer legal to drink alcohol while is drug rehabilitation programs. The second is a gentle tease directed at the group Steely Dan. Rather, the general idea of the song, according to the band members themselves, was an indictment of hedonistic capitalism in the United States, particularly in California. There are also metaphors about California itself. The band members noted that no one was “from California.” Rather, everyone was from Ohio, Michigan, Texas, and other states, which made the state a “Hotel California” in which they lived and couldn’t escape if they wanted to keep playing.

Jazz Influence

Don Felder also said that before joining The Eagles, he was in a band in New York called Flow, which was a jazz fusion group. He said that it was empowering to be able to play a different solo every time you played a song. He admired others who had the talent and expertise to create such solos differently every time. Felder went further, however. Today, in the 21st century, he records snippets of ideas on his iPhone, playing guitar for 10 or 12 measures and keeping them for future reference. Back in 1977, he did the same thing with a tape recorder. He would then play some of what he had improvised for his band mates to get their opinions and impressions. Some of these found their way into “Hotel California” while others became part of “Victim of Love” or “New Kid in Town.”

Appearances in Other Media

The Eagles have never been profligate with licensing their songs, but “Hotel California” is so popular that they did allow it in movies, such as “The Big Lebowski,” “Legend of the Ten Rings,” and “Absolutely Fabulous.” It’s also appeared on the television programs “American Horror Story” and “Pistol.”


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 thinkin’ 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, uh
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 1969”
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”

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Don Felder / Donald Hugh Henley / Glenn Lewis Frey

Hotel California lyrics © Tratore, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc

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