Reviews

“HOTEL CALIFORNIA” by the EAGLES

By Ahmet Abdulaziz ….

There must be more than one Hotel California in California itself, and many more world over, but I am sure sure that none of them are as popular as “Hotel California” by The Eagles.

Yes, I am discussing the song “Hotel California” by The Eagles.

This one particular song is perhaps one of the most popular songs in the history of modern music. I am sure The Eagles too would never had thought of such a marvellous success of the song, when they were working on its words, music and playing.

Being from the generation which grew up during 1960s and 1970s, it is not just The Beatles or Rolling Stones, that we all love. Our generation loves the music created by the Eagles too.

Of course Hotel California is not just their one exceptional song. We all know that they created wonderful music during their hay days, and had topped the charts of those times repeatedly, with their other songs too.

Don Felder picture courtesy of Phil Konstantin/Wikipedia

As for me, I always liked Don Felder of the group. He used to be their lead guitarist during the 1970s,and also one of the main characters in the production of Hotel California. As he said in one of his subsequent interviews, he had created that wonderful tune on guitar, which ultimately became the main characteristic of this song. Once the singing of the song is finished and the way the fantastic combination of Don Felder and  Joe Walsh play the last more than a minute of the song, really mesmerises me. There is something unique in it. The way the two guitarists stand and develop harmony among themselves, completing the overall music between themselves, the way they coordinate by one playing the lead and the other chords, and the way they shift their positions. All this is so fantastic, and makes me replay the video again and again.

But it is not just the exceptional performance of Joe Walsh and Don Felder that has made “Hotel California” exceptional. The main contribution comes from Don Hanley and Glenn Frey, who not only wrote the words but also played an important part in making the music.

Don Hanley can be seen at his best in this particular video, where he has not only sung the song but has also played wonderful drums. There is no doubt that he is one of those exceptional drummers who are known for their dual capabilities of singing while playing drums. It is a rare gem.

Now coming to the words of the song. The words are very simple yet they carry much deep meanings inside. Don Hanley explained what Hotel California is  in 2002 in the following words, in an interview with “60 minutes”, “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,”

However later he was quoted as saying “We were all middle class kids from the Midwest,” Hanley said. “‘Hotel California’ was our interpretation of the high life in L.A.”, in an interview with the Rolling Stones, in 2005.

Whatever may be the real meaning of the words,  I am sure that it is not just me, there are hundreds of thousands of people world over, who listen to Hotel California again and again, and still want to continue playing it. Everyone builds a story out of this lyric. I personally believe that this song deals with our inner-selves, where we try to run away from all that is going on inside us, but we cannot run away anywhere.

Hereunder are the lyrics to Hotel California. Just read them and see if you can come up with something interesting about what these lines actually mean.

“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 sayWelcome 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 hereHer 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!”