"Hotel California" as written by and Glenn Frey Don Felder....
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, that 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!

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae, edited by whoiscloud, Teampeeta254, Matilda Is Rad, SpongeBobForPresident2016

"Hotel California" as written by Don Henley Don Felder

Lyrics © Cass County Music / Wisteria Music / Privet Music, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, Red Cloud Music

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Hotel California song meanings
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  • +34
    General CommentI have a very interesting little story for all of you in regards to this song and it's meaning. About 15 years ago, I was taking an English class in University, and the and the professor of the class had an assignment for us. He handed out a sheet of paper face down to everyone. When we turned it over, we were told to write what we thought the song was about. He added, however, that the song was NOT about a cult so don't even write that. So, basically almost every member of the class then proceeded along the next route....the drugs/addiction metaphors. When we were done, he proceeded to tell us what the song, and the corresponding album were ACTUALLY about. It seems our prof had, at one time, lived in the California area and was very good friends with a certain drummer named Don Henley. Don explained the story behind the song to him, and said he was amused at the wide varieties of interpretations the song had developed over time. According to the source, The "Hotel California" is actually, L.A. itself. The song and album take you on a trip though the music industry in L.A. in the late sixties early seventies, when agents and studios controlled artists like puppets. Back in the late sixties, 1969 to be exact, there was a major onslaught of artists being signed left, right and center, and artisit at the time were often known to basically "sell their soul" to a record company executive in order to get a recording contract. Many times these artists were given little if anything for their music, and thus ended up basically a victom to their love of music. Just imagine the scene at the time, it's late 60's, you are on your way to L.A. to strike it big with dreams of glamour and fame...and you basically are prepared to sell your soul of you have to to attain it. I must admit, when I first heard this explaination, I was a little skeptical...but trust me....listen to the WHOLE album again, start to finish and keep this definition in mind when you do it. Every song ties together in one big story, finishing off with the Last Resort which gives you a clear summery of the whole album and idea. I don't deny that drugs and addiction have a lot to do with the lifestyle and results of the quest for fame. All I ask is to keep an open mind and think of "The Hotel California" as L.A., and you may be surprised.
    daffybon April 13, 2002   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI know what this song is about, not a cult it's about drugs.

    "Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way " That's not a candle she's lighting up.

    "Some dance to remember, some dance to forget" Some people do them do remember good memories, some people do them to forget bad memories.

    'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device" That is basically what drug users are

    "The stab it with their steely knives But they just can't kill the beast" The beast being the addiction/

    "You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave!" You can always say you aren't addicted or that you can quit anytime you want, but you'll always end up going back to them.

    Pretty basic clear maening, there are other metaphors in there to decipher but that's tha basics.
    Dethon February 03, 2002   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationI think the song is metaphorical, but something that can be made sense of. The Hotel California represents the California high-life...the promise of the fame and fortune of the 70s that brought people to the state...from an outsiders point of view, it is attractive and draws people (like a drug)...however, be careful..."you can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave"...once there, it is hard to escape. Henley didn't literally mean California...he meant the trappings of "ego" ....the mind state of being absorbed by pleasures and the "self"...as they can never bring true happiness.
    mikey14on July 03, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General CommentOf course! How stupid of me! A book written by some anonymous yahoo is MUCH more accurate that the drummer from the ACTUAL BAND! What was I thinking?
    daffybon April 18, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Commenti aslo agree that lyrics (especially from this song) are subject to many different interpetations. That's the beauty of lyrics and poetry in general. However, I heard the "meaning" of this song described once and i thought it was a great interpretation, so im resharing it. I heard it described as "a cynical view of paradise." When you think about it that way it could mean drugs, the entertainment business, or simply a supposed paradise because they all fit people's ideas of paradise. Its a vague interpretation but it allows you to decide what the song means to you, and that (in my opinion) is one of the reasons we listen to music in the first place.
    chorts29on April 24, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHi,

    to finish all the speculations (or to start them new? hehe) here Don Henley himself!

    Don Henley:
    I like the ‘Hotel California’ track ; I like the song—I’m very proud of that one. It’s very cynical, but that’s all right. It’s our bicentennial year, you know, the country is 200 years old, so we figured since we are the Eagles and the Eagle is our national symbol, that we were obliged to make some kind of a little bicentennial statement using California as a microcosm of the whole United States, or the whole world, if you will, and to try to wake people up and say ‘We’ve been okay so far, for 200 years, but we’re gonna have to change if we’re gonna continue to be around’.

    Any comments to it?
    nice greetings from Bangkok!
    frankyBkkon June 23, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAnd more from Don Henley:

    There’s a picture of the Beverly Hills Hotel on the front, which is really THE hotel in California; very elegant and very decadent at the same time. It’s a romantic place and you can see all kinds of people there—You see a lot of tourist types, a lot of very glamorous movie star people, and a lot of phony people. A lot of real people too. A lot of people have parties there, so that’s what the front of the album cover is. It’s shot from a crane about 100 to 150 feet up in the air, at sunset. There are black silhouettes of palm trees and the sky is a kind of rusty, smoky color. We superimposed a neon sign that says ‘Hotel California’, because we couldn’t use the name Beverly Hills Hotel: we’d probably have been sued.

    nice greetings
    frankyBkkon June 23, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commenteveryone thinks this song is about drugs, or an institution of sorts, or, dare i say, the devil.

    allllllllll wrong.

    it's about when jesus went to california and started an underground fight club, you know, like the hit movie that was based on a book. anyways, when jesus started this fight club, he used a basement of a hotel, and he only fought girls who drove mercedes-benzs. he became a huge wino and smashed ladies faces in and told them they looked lovely afterwards. all these bitches finally got sick of it, and tried to destroy jesus with steely knives, but failed miserably. he would never let them leave, and continued bashing faces until the romans found out about this.... and the rest... as they say... is history.
    avengedsurviveon January 18, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt seems it is about drugs, but once I was in Mexico Baja California and our guide pointed us the road to this Hotel...
    JackLealon March 19, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song certainly has drug influences and references, but i`m not so sure that it is "about" drug dependance. i see it more as being about the whole california culture of the 70's. extravagance, drugs, party till you die type thing. Henley, Walsh and the other band members were seeking something more simple, but the cultural demands at the time wouldn`t let them. thus the 'Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes-Benz' lines.
    ramtharon February 22, 2002   Link

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