Song Lyric Sunday — Hotel California

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt from Helen Vahdati, she has asked us to post a song with a metaphor in the title or lyrics.

The song that came to mind for me is the classic Eagles song, “Hotel California.” That song is arguably the Eagles’ most iconic song. It was a Billboard chart-topper, selling more than 16 million copies in the U.S. alone and was on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 19 weeks, peaking at No. 1. In 1978, the song won a Grammy award for Record of the Year.

Written by Don Felder, Glenn Frey, and Don Henley, “Hotel California” is a metaphor for materialism and excess. While California is used as the setting, it could relate to anywhere in America. Don Henley said the song is “about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America which was something we knew about.”

Another popular interpretation of the song is that it’s a metaphor for Hollywood. The Eagles compare the fickle, temporary, and false nature of all the glamor found in Hollywood to that of a short-stay in a hotel. No one knows how long they are going to be famous, so they have to make the most out of it.

Whatever it means, it’s a haunting, surreal song. And here are the 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 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 say

Welcome 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 here

Her 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!”

15 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Hotel California

  1. newepicauthor June 10, 2018 / 6:55 am

    Driving on a dark desert highway late at night feeling the wind in his hair and smelling some desert flowers, the driver starts to feel drowsy and stops at Hotel California. He hears voices singing about how lovely and pleasant this place is and then he meets a rich and fun loving woman who has beautiful friends. Then something is mentioned about having an alibi to prove their innocence, and the woman tells him that everyone at the hotel is a prisoner of their own making and no one has ever escaped. The guy should have just kept driving and found a different hotel, as this is not a place to relax.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango June 10, 2018 / 7:11 am

      Good advice. But I’m afraid that, while he could check-out at any time he liked, he could never leave!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. J-Dub June 10, 2018 / 8:15 am

    I vividly remember discussing the meaning of this song back in the day. Such a lovely place … my siren song.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Helen Vahdati June 10, 2018 / 6:14 pm

    You can’t go wrong here. It is a haunting song… masterful lyrics. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. King Ben's Grandma June 10, 2018 / 7:37 pm

    I love this song. The lyrics are haunting and the music is pure awesomeness!
    So much classic rock this week on SLS. I’m loving it!

    Liked by 1 person

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