The Eagles top the charts with “Hotel California” in 1977

Over the years, the lyrics to the song have been debated and open to several interpretations

The Eagles top the charts with “Hotel California” in 1977

It is perhaps one of those songs that is the favorite song of many, many people around the world. It’s distinctive guitar intro is instantly recognizable by any music. “Hotel California”, The Eagles signature song, was written by Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey and first released on February 22, 1977, backed with “Pretty Maids All in a Row”. The song was included on The Eagles 1976 album of the same name, “Hotel California” and it’s appeal was almost instant to music listeners. Among it’s many awards and recognition’s, the “Hotel California” long guitar coda has been voted the best guitar solo of all time by readers of Guitarist in 1998, and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1978. It peaked to No.1 on the U.S Hot 100 on May 7, 1977, the group’s fourth US No.1. The lyrics to “Hotel California” have been for decades debated and open to several interpretations. The Eagles themselves described the song as their “interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles”; Glenn Frey stated once that “We decided to create something strange, just to see if we could do it,” and that the song was meant to mimic the imagery of the 1965 novel “The Magus” by John Fowles, about a man in an unfamiliar rural setting who is unsure about what he is experiencing. The metaphorical character of the story related in the lyrics has inspired a number of conjectural interpretations, some unexpected, as it’s association with Satanism. That interpretation first got out during the 1980’s when Rev. Paul Risley of Cornerstone Church in Burlington, Wisconsin alleged the song was about a San Francisco hotel that was purchased by Anton LaVey and converted into his Church of Satan. That was the starting point for other similar interpretations, such as the Hotel California was actually the Camarillo State Mental Hospital. There are obvious double meaning references to drugs, decadence, sex, corruption and murder. One of the most famous is the lyric “warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air”, which may refer to a sexual slang, as “colitas” means “little tails” in Spanish, but on other hand, in Mexican slang it refers to buds of the cannabis plant. On that matter, Don Felder stated that “The colitas is a plant that grows in the desert that blooms at night, and it has this kind of pungent, almost funky smell. Don Henley came up with a lot of the lyrics for that song, and he came up with colitas.” Either an allegory about hedonism, self-destruction, and greed, or simply just a statement about finding your path in life, “Hotel California” remains one of the greatest songs ever made, and like many great songs, the open interpretation to the lyrics will remain open.

Watch The Eagles performing “Hotel California” in 1977



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