What does Hotel California mean?

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Eagles: Hotel California Meaning

Song Released: 1977

Hotel California Lyrics

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...


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    Mar 24th, 2006 3:21pm report

    This song is about the attactive qualities of worldly things but their ultimate end. the man drives along the highway (his life) and his head grows heavy and his sight grows dim, forcing him to stop for the night (he dies). he sees a pretty woman in the doorway of the hotel but cannot decide if he is in heaven or hell. When the woman invites him in he sees the other people in the hotel. these people are mocking him as he comes in (such a lovely face) and they realize he does not know where he is. He goes to a party in the courtyard and sees people dancing (to remember better times, to forget the present). he askes the captain to bring him his wine, but the captain claims that they have not had that spirit (hopefullness or eagerness) since 1969. when the man starts to realize where he is (hell) he tries desperately to get back to his car (life). the doorman tells him there is nothing to worry about, he can check out at any time, but he can never leave (referring to the fact that, once in hell, a person can realize their mistakes, and repent of their wrong doings, but by the time they realize this, they cannot leave hell.)

    Another interpretation I have found interesting is comparing the hotel with alcoholism/drug addiction (they stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't till the beast) and trying to overcome the addiction.


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    Sep 23rd, 2006 9:22pm report

    I think the lyric mercedes bends was quite intentional. The subject of the song (in this case california, and all it represents in people's heads) is afflicted. She's "tiffany twisted" and has the "mercedes bends". "the bends" is a condition that divers get when they surface too quickly and the pressure drop allows dissolved gasses in their blood to become gasses again. Severe pain and often death then occur.

    "hotel california" is obsessed with material wealth and money. The idea of california is an idealistic draw for artists all over (what with free love and the sixties "age of aquarius and all that), but, as the song says "we haven't had that spirit here since 1969" ... The summer of love is long over, and is now replaced by the avarice, greed, and cynicism of the music industry.

    Once you're sucked into the west coast dream "you can check out" via drugs, or whatever "but you can never leave". Whatever youthful idealism you once had is forever gone and sucked up by the machine that is the music business.


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    Apr 25th, 2006 4:26pm report

    I think that this song simply refers to Hell, and a man's account of how he got there and what it was like.

    The song starts out by telling how he dies...car wreck, something like that.

    The woman who is so tempting is sin...thus she shows the way to Hell.

    Trapped souls and demons welcome the man in the chorus, describing how it seems like a good place from the outside...

    "Her mind is twisted" refers to the temptation of sin and the devil. (Remember Bedazzled with Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley?) "She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys..." Those would be people destined for Hell but not there yet.

    Dancing in the courtyard refers to the lost souls remembering (or trying to forget) their time on earth and how they squandered their life by ending up in Hell. When the man calls for wine, he may be going through the same thing...the captain (the devil, a head demon, whatever) says that part of the punishment of Hell is that you can't forget. 1969 is a reference to the number 666, the sign of the beast, rather than the year.

    "Mirrors on the ceiling..." is a reference to sins committed here on earth. "We are all just prisoners here of our own device" refers to how humans get to Hell...by their own sins.

    At this point, the song get weird. The people in Hell prepare for the "feast", which means that they are going to try to overthrow him (Satan, the beast, their keeper, etc) but they can't kill the Beast...This is describing how the Beast must die not by human efforts but by God.

    At this point, seeing all this, the man wants to leave and go back to earth because he finally realizes where he is. However, friends, you can't leave hell. "We are programmed to receive" is indeed one of the coolest lines of this song. "You can check out any time you like" You can die anytime, but you can "never leave" Hell.

    This just makes sense! Way more than a mental hospital or a drug trip or describing the music business. It is the description of Hell from a dead man's point of view.


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    Jun 20th, 6:18am report

    The age old question of what is binding us to our present condition. Same theme runs through other songs... We hold the key to releasing ourselves from whatever....status & fate... It
    s within ourselves, we have to find it. Just a change of location wont work. we are all prisoners... of our own desire? device? ... dont realize it. Hotel California is simply a metaphor.
    Another song.. dont remember name but Egles member.." .All Ready Gone?" we hold the key to release ourselves all along, but must first aknowledge that change must happen within ourselves.


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    Jun 19th, 6:33pm report

    I think this is about an overdose. Experiencing in and out consciousness, perhaps life. Seeing the light and what the beyond be like. Not understanding the stage you are or where you headed.


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    Oct 22nd, 2013 10:11am report

    The Hotel California was the Church of Satan in Southern California. If you have the album from before the bar code was put on, Anton Levy be seen standing on the balcony with a cirle of symbols behind his head. Colitas is a Mexican marijuana bud. Wine is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. When a Satanic Church is activated, the first ritual is to "Blasphemy the Holy Spirit." This is considered to be the only unforgivable sin. This ritual was performed in 1969. Hence "We have not had that spirit here since 1969." Feasts are a pivotal celebration in Heaven and Hell. The rest of the song speaks for itself. Don Henley would of course lie about any of this after looking at things in retrospect.


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    Jul 29th, 2013 7:45am report

    On a dark chocolate desert my way
    Cool drink in my hand
    The smell of warm custard
    Rising up at the fair
    Up ahead a distraction
    Eyes sore from shimmering lights
    Mike Head drank heavy, while I drank gin
    We didn't stop all that night...

    Yeah, I guess it means whatever you want it to.


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    Jul 29th, 2013 7:14am report

    Don Henley said on the Showtime airing of History of the Eagles that Hotel California is simply about the passage from innocence to experienced. what ever interpratation our fans want to make the song out to mean, is fine with the band


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    Jul 28th, 2013 7:22pm report

    This song is totally about Jenkem addiction.


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    May 31st, 2013 5:29am report

    There are numerous interpretations of this song, and more than one interpretation can be correct. At the most superficial level it is about the West Coast lifestyle of the 70s, as Henley confirms. But there are deeper meanings. There is also an obvious parallel with the drug culture ("warm smell of colitas rising up through the air") and ultimate addiction ("check out any time you like, but you can never leave"). However, there is also a yet deeper meaning. Every 28 years there is the "Feast of the Beast" it is known to have been held some 15 times since 1618. (Go on, Google it.) It is a year-long feast which culminates around the northern autumn equinox. It is organized by certain members of the Collins family and attended by the world's elite, including Rothschilds. The "beast" is in fact, Satan himself. The song is about a guy who has got deeply involved in Satanism. He is informed that "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device". Then he describes how, "in the master's chambers, they gathered for the feast [of the Beast]" and even if they were to "stab it with their steely knives (as perhaps he'd now like to do) they just can't kill the beast [Satan]". So he then entertains thoughts of fleeing, but he is told, "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave" - [unless it's in a box]. Whether the Eagles knew all this at the time it was written, I do not know. But even if they didn't know, they were subliminally influenced to write these words. (It's the same with backward masking - singers do not intentionally do it, it would be impossible to sing backwards intentionally, but they do it nonetheless.)


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    May 8th, 2013 5:19am report

    yeah yeah, we all know about HC, but I had to weigh in about the ignorance of comments that Desperado is about drugs as well lol; it is about a single man who has been riding fences, probably jumping from men to women since all of us are bisexual anyway, and it is simply an urge to settle down with a woman for love and not money (the queen of hearts, not the queen of diamonds!)


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    Mar 13th, 2013 3:15am report

    Don Henley said it was simply about changing from innocence to experienceds


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    Mar 12th, 2013 3:33pm report

    Don Henley said on a documentary about the eagles that aired on showtime that the song was about moving from innocent to experienced


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    Mar 11th, 2013 3:39am report

    Don Henley said on the 3 hour history of the eagles broadcast last week on showtime,the song " Hotel California" is simply about the passage of innocence to experienced, whatever else people want to make the lyrics mean to themselves is fine with the band


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    Feb 10th, 2013 2:58pm report

    It's about ending up at Camarillo State Mental Hospital just north of Malibu/ Los Angeles..."you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave"
    Simply interpretation. Someone spent a stint there so I was told. Hum hum


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    Jan 26th, 2013 1:55pm report

    this song has been disected, scrutinized, interpretated, and whatever other word you would add for 7 years. it all comes down to 1 thing, it means something different to all. and can be interpretated by the same person differently at various points in one's life


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    Jan 26th, 2013 1:02pm report

    Hotel California interpreted as a euphemism for the space one enters when they take LSD

    On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
    When you go you go alone and you have heard lots of words about how cool the the experience is

    Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
    The Marijuana you and the others you are with are smoking while waiting for the effects.

    Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
    The first flashes of the effects

    My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
    Something weird is happening

    I had to stop for the night
    The mind can no longer see where it is going

    There she stood in the doorway;
    The first images beaconing you to enter the experience of LSD. Music (She -The Muse) is probably influencing one altered state of mind

    I heard the mission bell
    church bell -The LSD experience is very spiritual in nature
    all great music is about love or the tragedy that occurs when it is absent (religious context LSD feels like it embodies the real intent of christian church dogma)

    And I was thinking to myself,

    "This could be Heaven or this could be Hell"
    we have been told taking drugs is bad and the intrigue feels like it could be a delusion but the wondrous images and feeling of love seem as if we are entering heaven

    Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
    It is very hard to organize one thoughts during the onset but eventually a coherent stream of thought begins to coalesce
    she (the muse) music is the best guide in the LSD experience

    There were voices down the corridor,
    Something begins to catch ones attention. seems there is a form of information reflected onto the mind from the visions

    I thought I heard them say...

    Welcome to the Hotel California

    Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)

    Such a lovely face
    the visions will have you in awe and will reflect LOVE and good feelings

    Plenty of room at the Hotel California
    there seems to be no limits to one's expanded mind and it's perception of reality.

    Any time of year (Any time of year)
    You can find it here
    This space is always here we just are not aware of it

    Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends.
    The visions are like patterns on a tiffany lamp. following the pattern of
    the Muse in the poetry of Rock and roll lyrics is like riding in plush vehicle driving you deep into your mind.

    She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
    Rock Stars who serve the muse.

    How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
    Rock and Roll show

    Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
    Who am I? or "Heads all empty without a care"

    So I called up the Captain,
    Ones god concept

    "Please bring me my wine"
    He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine"
    When we meet again we will share a new wine (sic Bible) (morning glory wine)
    Timothy Leary stated at about this time that alcohol is the anti-psychedelic and recommended not mixing them

    And still those voices are calling from far away,
    It is truly the feeling of entering a far away world and there seems to be a dis-embodied voices in ones mind

    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
    The visions will have you in awe most of the time and are leading to pleasing visions of LOVE

    They livin' it up at the Hotel California
    LSD allows your mind to be released, feeling none of the restraints experienced in the normal state of mind.

    What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
    One discovers that all you need is LOVE

    Bring your alibis
    Reasons for not loving and or memories of justifications for when one was unkind to another. self judgement phase

    Mirrors on the ceiling,
    Cant run away from yourself

    The pink champagne on ice
    relax drink it in be at peace for once.

    And she said "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"
    the limits of your mind are the limits on your idea of yourself and life

    And in the master's chambers,
    LSDs full effect is being felt" Love is confirmed as the force behind Life

    They gathered for the feast
    Many experience peace "the food of love" the first time in a universal way

    They stab it with their steely knives,
    Trying to hate something away, it could be in ones own bad idea of them selves this really causes disruption in one mind when sailing on the sea of love

    But they just can't kill the beast.
    Being overwhelmed with the task of dealing with ones own guilt.
    Can't figure out how to communicate the wonder of love to those who don't under stand
    The thought that the experience is all just fantasy and the world and it's people are far from understanding truth and Love and will continue justifying there lives at the cost of another's life.
    The waking reality enters that the world which does not seem very loving and who is it's master?
    If Love is everything, what about war and murderous death and the purveyors of it.
    Enter the eater of Love (Bad Trip)

    Last thing I remember, I was

    Running for the door

    I had to find the passage back

    To the place I was before
    The devil or a dark force must be real and these thoughts are getting pretty scary..
    and one might want the experience to end at this time.

    "Relax, " said the night man,
    "We are programmed to receive.
    You can check-out any time you like,
    But you can never leave! "
    The LSD experience is hard to shake from ones memory
    And the idea of ones self will likely be changed forever.

    Interpretation by Ron Love


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    Nov 27th, 2012 11:54pm report

    It is clearly about heroin I agree with Sandy & other's

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