Meaning of Hotel California by Eagles & The Story Behind

There aren’t many rock songs that come to mind that have had as many myths as the Eagles’ legendary Hotel California. No matter what the fans invented, no matter what ridiculous assumptions were made. Later it turned out that all of them are the fruits of too rich imagination of the fans, as is often the case.

Let’s remember how and what the song Hotel California was written about.

The story of the creation of the song Hotel California by Eagles

Don Felder talked about how he wrote the song in his autobiography Heaven and Hell: My Life in The Eagles. He played 12-string guitar at a rented beach house in Malibu. It was terribly hot, Felder was lazily playing chords, and suddenly the melody seemed to come from nowhere.

Fry helped finish the song, while Henley worked on the lyrics. The composition was released as a single in February 1977 and immediately became a real hit.

However, there is an opinion that Hotel California has a suspiciously lot in common with the song We Used to Know by Jethro Tull. Her frontman even once joked in an interview with the BBC that he hoped for a fee from The Eagles, but later he made it clear that he did not think that Hotel California borrowed anything from their song.

The meaning of the song “Hotel California” by Eagles

But the main mystery of Hotel California for a long time lay in its text. Fans struggled to guess what the song “Hotel California” was really about.

From a huge number of opinions, several of the most striking versions of the interpretation of the meaning of the work can be distinguished.

  • In the 1980s, a group of Christians suggested that the song was about a hotel in San Francisco that Anton LaVey purchased to turn it into the Church of Satan.
  • According to one rumor, the Hotel California refers to a hospital for the mentally ill in Camarillo, California.
  • No less popular was the version that we are talking about the California rehabilitation center for drug addicts.
  • Many fans were sincerely convinced that Hotel California refers to the Scottish castle of the black magician Aleister Crowley, or even an unknown hotel owned by cannibals. Someone even managed to make out a strange figure in black on the cover.
  • Some fans were confident that The Eagles were singing about Playboy Castle.
  • There is also a romantic interpretation of the song. Its supporters claim that the song describes a romantic relationship. The wanderer seeks love, finds it and enters into a happy marriage, but later is forced to break it because of the desire of the chosen one for luxury. You can trace this line in the Hotel California text if you really try, but it all looks far-fetched.

Feel free to share your interpretation of the meaning of Hotel California in the comments.

What is the song “Hotel California” really about?

The controversy subsided in 2007 when Don Henley debunked the myths about the meaning of Hotel California. He said that it talks about “the excesses of American culture and certain girls you know”, “the shaky balance between art and commerce”, “the Achilles’ heel of the American dream”. He also called the song “their interpretation of Los Angeles high society.”

In the same vein, Glenn Fry spoke about the Hotel California. He explained that the composition “explores the vulnerabilities of success, the dark side of paradise” and confirmed that the Hotel California is just a metaphor.

Although it is possible that the authors of the song decided to give such an explanation, tired of endless questions. Maybe there was a hidden meaning after all?

“I will destroy you, like the song “Hotel California” destroyed the Eagles,” the hero of one of the series joked. Indeed, this song, far from the best among rock musicians, has become the most famous, and simply the hallmark of the group. She became famous for two reasons: extreme length and mystery. It once became a favorite song of DJs on the radio precisely for this: you could go for a smoke and even a snack while the Hotel was playing on the air. So what is this song about?

The song “Hotel California” was released on the album and as a single in 1977. It became an immediate hit, and fans immediately began to rack their brains over this extended metaphor. What kind of hotel did the musicians have in mind? There are several versions.

At first, everyone thought that this was a song about a crazy house, from which there is no way out. Then they came up with a version about the house of Satanists. This idea was suggested by some words of the text: to kill the Devil, the smell of drugs, ice and champagne, and so on. The cover of the disc depicted a mysterious hotel with strange figures visible in the windows and lobby. Someone even saw the demon and Satanist Anton La Vey.

By the way, this hotel really exists, it was filmed for the cover. He became famous for the fact that he often die an unnatural death. That’s just the name of this hotel in a different way.

Another version is that the song is dedicated to the death of the famous country musician Gram Parsons, who died in a hotel from a heroin overdose. And then the meaning of the text, it seems, describes drug addiction, from which one cannot get out. This is suggested by the line “Warm smell of colitas rising up through the air” – the warm smell of colitas rose in the air currents. Colitas are marijuana bumps, presumably. Although the author of the text himself assured with a blue eye that this is such a flowering plant, whose aroma spreads through the desert at night.

And finally, the most delusional, nerve-wracking version is a scary song about a hotel run by cannibals. No one will get out of here, and in the next room they are clearly trying to kill someone with steel knives.

In an interview with a London newspaper, band member Don Henley explained that the song is about losing innocence and gaining the experience of life in Hollywood, in the world of show business, success and big money. It describes typical Hollywood girls – vain, beautiful and greedy. And all the pleasures that this world lures you with:

She only dreams of Tiffany

Her head is spinning from the Mercedes

There are a lot of guys around her

whom she calls friends.

“This is a song about the excesses of American show business and some familiar girls. And also about how difficult it is to maintain a balance between creativity and commerce, ”said Henley. No wonder the beautiful girl in the song drops the words: “We are all prisoners here, we were imprisoned by our own desires.” The world of success that you find yourself in, and from which you yourself will not want to get out later, is so tempting and deceptive. Gradually, you betray the main reason for being here – the music. Or your life.

Perhaps the most mysterious lines are those that describe the murder of a certain “beast” in the owner’s living room, where everyone gathered for a feast. They can’t kill them… There is an opinion that the relationship of musicians with their producers and entrepreneurs is allegorically described here.

And the scariest final lines:

You can vacate the room at any time,
But you will never be able to leave here!

Video of Hotel California by Eagles

Next, I suggest watching a concert music video for the song “Hotel California” by the Eagles group.

Interesting Facts

  • The song won a Grammy in 1977, but the band didn’t go to the awards. As Timothy Schmit recalled, they watched the ceremony on TV during rehearsal.
  • “Colitas”, the smell of which is mentioned in one of the lines, is a Spanish word for small buds of marijuana.
  • The maitre d’ in the song refers to the wine as “spirits” (in Russian “spirited drink”), although the wine does not contain alcohol. The author of the song was repeatedly told about this, forcing him to laugh it off.
  • During the last launch of the American shuttle Columbia, which crashed on February 1, 2003, its crew woke up for some time to the song Hotel California performed by the wife of astronaut William McCool.
  • The phrase “They stab it with their steely knives” is a reference to the American rock band Steely Dan, who shared a manager with The Eagles.
  • The cover depicts the Pink Palace Hotel in Beverly Hills, which often hosts celebrities.

Hotel California Lyrics by Eagles

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 a Mercedes bend
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys
That she calls friends
How do 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!”

Lyrics Hotel California by Eagles Alternate

On a dark desert highway
Cool wind blew my hair
Warm smell of marijuana
Rising up in the air
far ahead
I saw a trembling light
I nodded my nose, and it got dark in my eyes
I needed to stay overnight

She stood at the door
I heard a call at the reception
And thought:
“It could be heaven or hell”
Then she lit a candle
And showed me the way
There were voices in the hallway
I heard them say:

“Welcome to Hotel California”
Such an amazing place
Such an amazing place
Such an amazing place
Plenty of vacancies at the Hotel California
All year round
All year round
you can find

All she thinks about is Tiffany
She’s dizzy from the Mercedes
There are many, many guys around her,
whom she calls friends
How they dance in the yard
Bleeding sweet summer sweat
Some to come to my senses
Some to forget

I called the maitre d’
“Please bring some wine”
He said, “We didn’t have liquor
Since 1969”
And the voices continued to call from afar,
Forcing you to wake up in the middle of the night
And listen as they say:

“Welcome to Hotel California”
Such an amazing place
Such an amazing place
Such an amazing place
They’re living life in the Hotel California
What a nice surprise
What a nice surprise
Find yourself an excuse

Mirrors on the ceiling
Pink champagne on ice
And she said: “We are all prisoners here,
Sharpened at will”
And in the master’s living room
They gathered for a feast
They stab him with steel knives
But they just can’t kill the beast

The last thing I remember
How ran to the door
I had to get out there
Where have I been before
“Relax,” said the porter,
We are ordered to receive guests
You can vacate the number at any time,
But you will never be able to leave!

Chords of the song “Hotel California” by Eagles

Bm F#
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

Welcome to the Hotel California.
F# Bm7
Such a lovely place, such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Em F#
Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here

Download Hotel California by Eagles

Blimey does not distribute MP3 tracks, so the song Hotel California cannot be downloaded for free on the site. However, you can listen online and watch video clips of the rock band The Eagles.

If you need sheet music, tabs, minus or karaoke version of the song “Hotel California”, thematic music sites will help you.

Can you sing Hotel California beautifully with a guitar? Feel free to share your versions. The best covers are published on Blimey.

Add a comment

  1. Don

    I always thought this song was about the debaucherous lifestyle of the rich and famous.And the ‘Hotel ‘ was a place where they would gather to indulge in *** org***, ***** and maybe even sat*** rituals.