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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    Dec 13th, 12:14pm report

    It's pretty simple. It's about the excesses of being a star and the horrors those lead to - you're in it, and you're trapped. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave, because now you're notorious and because you will never have your innocence back. Once that's gone, it's gone.

    It's about how stardom is not so glamorous once you get up close.


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    Nov 5th, 11:47pm report

    I always thought this song was about this guy finding the hotel to rest, but then realises that there's something very wrong there. That there are sacrifices and bad stuff going on, when he tries to get out they won't let him. The part that always got me was, "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." Which means you can't leave this place, but you will die. I'm a creepy person by nature though so, I could be wrong, Lol.


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    Oct 25th, 10:20pm report

    This song is about a being in the right time long time ago having a great time but hard to remember and coming back happens all time when your high nobody cares of you and suddenly someone's do.


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    Sep 24th, 2014 9:13am report



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    Aug 5th, 2014 8:28am report

    I think this song is about being in a cult is communal living place- popular in 60's and 70's.. They keep you awake all the time and drug you to program you. The master is the leader ( Charles Manson type).I think they used pretty girls to get people to join up.
    He obviously gets away and is telling his story though he's haunted by the experience


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    Aug 1st, 2014 8:52pm report

    Hotel California refers to Hotel Del Coronado.


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    Jun 20th, 2014 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, 2014 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!)

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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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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