Eagles: Hotel California Meaning
Song Released: 1977
Hotel California Lyrics
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...
anonymous 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.
anonymous 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.
anonymous 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.
anonymous Jul 8th, 7:13pm report
Frey and Henley were both interested in the tune after hearing the demo, and discussed the concept for the lyrics. In 2008, Felder described the writing of the lyrics:
Don Henley and Glenn wrote most of the words. All of us kind of drove into L.A. at night. Nobody was from California, and if you drive into L.A. at night... 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... what we started writing the song about.
- from wikipedia
-Punk who has no opinion on this song. Wait for others who might have an opinion on this song!
(Seems you only welcome those people who are also Anonymous like you)
anonymous Jul 8th, 7:52am report
I have been an Eagles super-fan for three decades now; I think Hotel California is one of the best songs of my lifetime and I have been on a journey to find out the meaning as intended by the authors (Henley, Frey and Felder). There are a lot of conflicting interpretations on the web, so I went to the horse’s mouth; Frey and Henley did an interview on 60 minutes. Frey and Henley also done one-on-one interviews – all in the 90’s.I have watched all these interviews and have compiled what I think the authors were after. The Eagles had great respect for Steely Dan’s lyrical creativity, so they set out to write a song that was lyrically progressive. Something like an episode of the Twilight Zone including fantasy, science fiction, suspense, horror, and psychological thriller, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist, and usually with a moral. Let’s start with what the song is NOT about: It is not about death and hell and Anton LaVey’s church of Satan, as many interpretations have surmised based on a nior interpretation of the lyrics and the photos on the album jacket.
The simplest interpretation per Henley: it’s about a journey from innocence to experience. It’s not really about California; it’s about America,” Henley said. “It’s about the dark underbelly of the American dream. It’s about excess, it’s about narcissism. It’s about the music business. It’s about a lot of different…. It can have a million interpretations.” We achieved perfect ambiguity.
There is a playful nod to the band Steely Dan in the song
The line "They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast," is a playful jab to rock band Steely Dan. in the song. Steely Dan and the Eagles had a mutual admiration club in the 70s – as they referenced each other in songs (see following).
Frey revealed in the liner notes of "The Very Best Of" that they alluded to the "Do it Again" rock band in "Hotel California" after Steely Dan made an Eagles reference in their song "Everything You Did."
This song to me (Frey) has always been the inability to run away from yourself and our own personal demons that’s why I love it so” … we are all prisoners here, of our own device…”
That’s my best shot. I welcome any other opinions.
anonymous Jun 5th, 6:11am report
This is about the excesses and facades of the glamour life centered in Southern California. The lights and then a lady draws him in. He sees the glamour but recognizes this could be his dream life or a nightmare. As he enters the nightlife scene he becomes increasingly aware that this is not heaven. The lady with the pretty boys is rich and maybe once famous but is now using money to attract where beauty once did. She’s dances to remember those days while others are dancing to forget these days. There is no wine as it has been replaced with drugs. The beast is the addition to the lifestyle which is drug fueled but is socially driven to other empty excesses. The voices keep saying you are having great time here. The drifter shows so outside but inside they all know this is in fact hell. He wants to rewind the tape to the innocent time before. He has the power to check out, but as the night man explains, no one there has the will.
anonymous Mar 16th, 2019 3:44pm report
According to the Straight Dope newsletter, there was a post on the Usenet by Thomas Dzubin of Vancouver, British Columbia, with one of the theories. It is that there was a Hotel California located in Baja California on the coastal highway between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, near Santa Barbara.
There was an explosion near the hotel in a fireworks factory three blocks from Hotel California. One of the workers that survived the fire spoke to Don Henley. Don asked the guy what he saw. The worker said: "Wurn Snell of Colitas...rising up through the air". Wurn Snell was a worker that died in the explosion and he was from Colitas, Greece.
Maybe Dan and the band were thinking about this man that died and what would happen if they died in the hotel.
Theneverendingloveofamother Dec 7th, 2017 12:15pm report
There really is a Hotel called Hotel California, where slot of band members and entertainers from all walks of life, use to party at. The song I believe is based on that Hotel and all the partying and drugs and addictions that took place there. They refer different parts of the song as the addictions that took place there. Like they stab it with their steally knives but that just can't kill the beast is the addiction to the needle and what drug is in it. You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave, believe refers to, that you can check out meaning overdose or suicide, but you can never leave, meaning whatever addiction they have at this Hotel. The girl with the pretty face is basically the seduction of the drugs. Or maybe the females that draw the men into the hotel or drugs. There is more.... But in a nutshell, I believe it is based on a real place that had alot of partying and over indulgement have drugs which caused alot of addictions, overdoses, and or suicides, for those who did not know how to escape from all the choas that drugs had caused in their lives.
anonymous Mar 23rd, 2017 3:17pm report
The song is about hell. The man is high driving in the desert and dies in a car accident, he sees the light where good people go after death, but when he gets there, he`s confused about where he is. The woman at the door was a hooker inviting him to sin ( sins of the flesh )but he hears voices in the caverns and caves of hell and they are happy that he is there too. They went to the master`s chamber to stab the dead baby to death. The baby is already dead, that`s why they can`t kill it. It was a sacrificial baby. he can`t get wine because wine symbolizes Jesus but he can get pink champagne, which is the blood of the demons. He knows now this is not where he wants to be but the guard tells him he can check out but he can never leave. once you`re dead and you haven`t made penance for your sins, you will go to hell. "programed to receive" is they can only get hell bound people and they will never leave. The dead baby most likely was a wealthy, materialistic man`s baby who sold his soul to the devil for fame and fortune.
I think this is one of the BEST SONGS EVER WRITTEN. The lyrics tend to suggest several meanings but for me it's all about addiction. "Colitas" is a slang Mexican name for marihuana. The fact that this traveler end up going into a hotel where a lady stand in the front-door and "his head grew heavy and sight dim" and where there was a feast "of pretty boys she called friends" where luxury and vanity were suggested and ending up "in a lovely place" all dancing with mirrors on the ceiling and Pink Champagne on ice (drug). 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...
Most important is that part where the night man says "Relax, We are programed to receive. You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave...
More Eagles song meanings »
Submit Your Interpretation
Related Blog Posts
|Five Albums No-One Thought Would See The Light Of Day|
|The Craziest Song Theories|
|The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver||anonymous|
|Ahead By A Century||anonymous|
|Love on Top||anonymous|
|Jar of Hearts||anonymous|
|Water Under The Bridge||anonymous|