Hotel California by Eagles completed thirty-nine years last December. The song is the lead track from the namesake album and was released in 1976. It is considered one of the best songs of the rock era. But then, Eagles are regarded as one of the world’s best music groups ever.
If I knew how to play the guitar, I’d have played Hotel California more than any other song. I like the way it sounds. It puts you in a kind of a trance. The fusion of electric guitar and drums are in unison with the vocals sung by Don Henley, who along with Don Felder and Glenn Frey are believed to have written the lyrics and composed the music.
I love the start and end of this iconic song. It begins with a slow drum beat, at the hands of Henley who also belts out the song, and finishes with a superb “interplay” of electric guitar by Felder and fellow band member Joe Walsh. You don’t want it to end.
Hotel California sounds like a pulp or a horror story in lyrical form. A man, exhausted from a long and tiring journey, checks into a hotel that looks warm and inviting only to find that it’s actually a dreadful place—where “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.”
Don Henley has described the song as the Eagles’ “interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles” and that “It's basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about.”
Over the years Hotel California has been open to many interpretations. Anyone who listens to it will have his or her own take on it. I thought the lyrics were very original and refreshing, as was the music.
Believe it or not, I have heard only one other song by Eagles, Tequila Sunrise, for which I blame the overriding influence of Hotel California.