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The Eagles - Hotel California lyric meanings and song facts

All facts provided by Songfacts

This is about materialism and excess. California is used as the setting, but it could relate to anywhere in America.
Don Henley: "We were all middle-class kids from the Midwest. Hotel California was our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles.
This won the 1977 Grammy for Record Of The Year. The band did not show up to accept the award, as Don Henley did not believe in contests.
Don Felder got the ball rolling on this. He had the chord progressions and took it to Don Henley and Glen Frey. They put the words down, then Joe Walsh wrote all the guitar parts and arranged them for everyone. (thanks, Les - Dannevirke, New Zealand)
"Colitas," in the line "Warm smell of colitas," is often interpreted as a flower or a sexual reference. It is a Spanish word translated to Henley by The Eagles Mexican-American road manager meaning "Little Buds," and is a reference to marijuana.
This was recorded at 3 different sessions before The Eagles got the version they wanted. The biggest problem was finding the right key for Henley's vocal.
Glenn Frey compares this to an episode of The Twilight Zone, where it jumps from one scene to the next and doesn't necessarily make sense.
The line "They stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill the beast" is a reference to Steely Dan. They shared the same manager and had a friendly rivalry. The year before, Steely Dan included the line "Turn up The Eagles, the neighbors are listening" on the song "Everything You Did."
Don Felder and Joe Walsh played together on the guitar solos, creating the textured sound.
The lyrics for this came with the album. Some people thought the line "She's got the Mercedes Bends" was a misspelling of "Mercedes Benz," and wrote Henley to complain. The line was a play on words.
Glenn Frey: "That record explores the under belly of success, the darker side of Paradise. Which was sort of what we were experiencing in Los Angeles at that time. So that just sort of became a metaphor for the whole world and for everything you know. And we just decided to make it Hotel California. So with a microcosm of everything else going on around us." (thanks, Moomin - London, England)
When The Eagles got back together in 1994, they recorded a live version of this for an MTV special that was included on their album Hell Freezes Over. The album was #1 in the US its first week.
All 7 past and present members of The Eagles performed this in 1998 when they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
The hotel on the album cover is the Beverly Hills Hotel, known as the Pink Palace. It is often frequented by Hollywood stars. The photo was taken by photographers David Alexander and John Kosh, who sat in a cherry-picker about 60 feet above Sunset Boulevard to get the shot of the hotel at sunset from above the trees. The rush-hour traffic made it a harrowing experience.
Although it is well known that Hotel California is actually a metaphor, there are several strange internet theories and urban legends about the "real" Hotel California. Some include suggestions that it was an old church taken over by devil worshippers, a psychiatric hospital, an inn run by cannibals or Aleister Crowley's mansion in Scotland. (thanks, Adam - Dewsbury, England)
The music may have been inspired by the 1969 Jethro Tull song "We Used to Know," from their album Stand up. The chord progressions are nearly identical, and the bands toured together before The Eagles recorded it. (thanks, Dave - Cleveland, OH)
In Chicago at the time of this song's popularity many people called Cook County jail "Hotel California" because it is on California street. The name stuck and now people of all ages and races refer to the jail by this nickname. (thanks, jesse - chicago, IL)
Don Felder: "I had just leased this house out on the beach at Malibu, I guess it was around '74 or '75. I remember sitting in the living room, with all the doors wide open on a spectacular July day. I had this acoustic 12-string and I started tinkling around with it, and those Hotel California chords just kind of oozed out. Every once in a while it seems like the cosmos part and something great just plops in your lap." (thanks, Stone - Libertyville, IL)
The music bears a resemblance to the Jethro Tull song "We Used to Know." During a BBC radio interview, Ian Anderson (Tull's frontman ) said laughingly that he was still waiting for the royalties. Jethro Tull have toured with the Eagles. (thanks, Lawrence - Royal Tunbridge Wells, England)
According to a reader-submitted poll for Guitar World magazine, the guitar solo for this song is ranked #8 out of 100. (thanks, Romeo - Belo Horizonte, Brazil)

All facts provided by Songfacts


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