Nov 29, 2010
One of the most successful California songs of all time, "Hotel California" was written by Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey. The Grammy award-winning song topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1977 and was certified Platinum for sales.
Decades after the single's original release, millions still wonder what the song is really about.
"The song began as a demo tape, an instrumental by Don Felder. He’d been submitting tapes and song ideas to us since he’d joined the band, always instrumentals, since he didn’t sing. But this particular demo, unlike many of the others, had room for singing. It immediately got our attention," said Frey.
Interpretation Of "Hotel California" Lyrics
The song's lyrics describe the Hotel California as an opulent resort where "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave". The song seems to tell the story of a weary traveler who ends up trapped in a horrifying luxury hotel that seemed inviting and enticing at first.
The most popular view is that "Hotel California" is about self-destructive hedonism in the music industry of Southern California.
Henley later stated, "It's basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about."
Fellow songwriter Don Felder has said that "Hotel California" is a song about Los Angeles.
"You can just see this glow on the horizon of lights, and the images that start running through your head of Hollywood and all the dreams that you have, and so it was kind of about that," stated Felder.
The haunting obscurity of the lyrics to the song "Hotel California" has led generations of listeners to widely varied interpretations over the years.
Many Christians still believe that "Hotel California" refers to a hotel in San Francisco purchased by satanic cult leader Anton LaVey and converted into the Church of Satan. Some say that the words to the song suggest the sinful, decadent life of darkness enjoyed by members of the secretive 'church' of the devil.
A great number of Southern Californians insist that the 'Hotel California' was Camarillo State Hospital, the state psychiatric facility that was shut down in 1997. The state hospital campus, which treated thousands of mental patients over six decades, is now the California State University at Channel Islands.
While you probably won't hear the tune played in any church, synagogue or mosque, "Hotel California" is a legendary song full of mystery, intrigue, and great guitars. A satanic theme song? Probably not, but the legend won't die anytime soon.
Many artists have recorded "Hotel California" in just about every musical style imaginable. After many years, the Eagles still have a monster hit on their hands --- and endless questions to answer.
Eagles Hotel California