The Eagles - Hotel California

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

 In 1977, all the parents of the kids I knew took away their copies of Hotel California. It seemed that it was irrational, but they all believed that the album was satanic. I know, it seems weird now, since the Eagles seem to be a pretty MOR band.

Hotel California was one of my first albums and my first Eagles album. I still enjoy it from time to time. It’s a lyrical painting of the record business in 70’s, with it’s sex and drugs. It is a sort of “concept album” talking about the pitfalls of fame in the rock business.

The song Hotel California perfectly exemplifies this. It speaks of LA as trap you can never leave. While you can check out but never leave, there are other traps. You can be this weeks flavor and forgotten just as quickly as shown in New Kid In Town.

Life In The Fast Lane is the most straightforward of all the songs on the album. It is a summation of the lifestyles of the rich, famous and coked up crowd that the Eagles associated with.

The album takes time for a typical Henley song about broken hearts. I feel like Last Worthless Evening is a song Henley has written many times since Hotel California, but not as powerfully.

The rest of the songs carry on the theme of broken people in the disconcerting nightlife that was LA in 1976. The album finishes off with an epic look at paving over paradise for another resort or shopping mall. I always read it as we kill what we love. We all want to live by the sea, but our presence makes the place lesser for it.

I would find music later in life with deeper meanings and thoughtful lyrics, but Hotel California introduced me to the idea of music as a social statement. Sure my crowd thought it had demonic overtones, but I saw it for what it was. A slightly disillusioned view of a corrupt industry at the height of it’s power.


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