"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, MegaManGaming

"Hotel California" as written by Don Henley Don Felder

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Hotel California song meanings
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  • +38
    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
  • +5
    General CommentDon Felder from the Eagles:

    I remember the day when I came up with the idea for the song:

    "I had just leased this house out on the beach at Malibu--I guess it was around '74 or '75. I remember sitting in the living room, with the doors wide open, on a spectacular July day. I had a bathing suit on and I was sitting on this couch, soaking wet, thinking the world is a wonderful place to be. I had this acoustic 12-string and started tinkling around with it, and those 'Hotel California' chords just kind of oozed out. I had a TEAC four-track set up in one of the back bedrooms and I ran back there to put this idea down before I forgot it. I also had one of those old Rhythm Ace things, and I remember it was set to play this cha-cha beat. I played the 12-string on top of that. A few days later, I came up with a bass line and mixed the whole thing to mono, ping-ponging back and forth on this little four-track."

    Eagles singer/guitarist Don Henley picked the song out of a cassette containing eight or ten different ideas that Felder had put together. "Henley said, "I really love that one that sounds like a matador or something," Felder recalls.

    Originally written and recorded in E minor, the song was ultimately transposed to B-minor and re-recorded to accommodate the vocal melody delivered by Henley. Felder capoed his acoustic 12-string at the seventh fret, which enabled him to preserve the open chord shapes of his original guitar arrangement. The "High strung" timbre produced by the capo's placement, enhanced by processing the 12-string through a Leslie cabinet, ended up becoming part of the song's distinctive sound. Felder played all of the song's guitar tracks except for the landmark solo, for which Felder and Joe Walsh traded licks and harmonies. "Joe and I sat on two stools and worked the whole thing out," Felder recalls.

    Don Henley and Glenn Frey collaborated on the song's memorable lyric. "Glenn had this idea," Felder remembers. "The fantasy of California. It's supposed to be a microcosm of the world. Glenn is great at conceptualizing. He'll say, 'I can see this guy driving in the desert at night and you can see the lights of L.A. way off in the horizon.' Henley gets the picture and goes from there.
    frankyBkkon June 23, 2003   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
  • +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
  • +3
    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
  • +3
    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
  • +2
    General CommentSome of the interpretations on this page have been on the theme of drug addiction. A few years ago I wrote the following lyrics for "Hotel California", but they're about a different kind of addiction. Enjoy. :)

    The Taco Bell Burrito
    (Written in 1995 to the tune of "Hotel California" by the Eagles, and presented to the rather unusual Usenet newsgroup news:alt.fan.taco-bell.)

    On a dark desert highway
    Cool wind in my hair
    Warm smell of burritos
    Rising up through the air

    Up ahead in the distance
    I saw a bright yellow light
    My head grew heavy and my mind grew dim
    I had to stop for a bite

    There I stood at the menu
    Reading "Taco Bell"
    I was trying to decide
    Did I want bean dip wrapped in a shell?

    Then they took down my order
    And they asked me to pay
    There were voices in the kitchenette
    As I walked away

    Welcome to the Taco Bell Burrito!
    Such a lovely place! Stuff to feed your face!
    Plenty of food in the Taco Bell Burrito!
    Mild or hot with spice - tacos, beans and rice!

    Cameras on the ceiling
    You fill your cup with ice
    Some would call it hell on earth
    But for me it's paradise

    In their massive freezers
    There are tons of seasoned meat
    They slather it with sauce and cheese
    And they serve it up to eat!

    Last thing I remember
    I was ordering some more
    They had to bring in forty men
    To pick me up from the floor

    I've tried to avoid it
    But I can't stay away
    If I didn't have to sleep or work
    That is where I'd stay

    Welcome to the Taco Bell Burrito!
    Such a lovely place! Stuff to feed your face!
    Plenty of food in the Taco Bell Burrito!
    Mild or hot with spice - tacos, beans and rice!!

    (c) 1995 by Wayne Farmer
    wdfarmeron March 30, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI grew up in Camarillo California, the rumor that the song was based around the mental hospital outside of town made sence, if you listen to the lyrics, dark desert highway, it was located out side of town, you can check out but you can never leave. It's call Camarillo State mantal institute and was closed down in 97, but as a kid I always spent Halloween there, when it still open, they have a bell tower!
    Vendzillaon September 24, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIts widely believed in my home town of Camarillo that Hotel California is based on the former mental hospital on the edge of town. In context, most of the lyrics make sense. The place on the edge of town on a bare road, lit up at night with a churchtower...

    "Plenty of room at the Hotel California
    Any time of year, you can find it here "
    Camarillo is well known for having some of the best weather in the world, with no real winter to speak of. Archetypal soCal weather.

    "How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
    Some dance to remember, some dance to forget"
    mental institution

    "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"
    Camarillo itself was once used as a retreat for recovering artists before Ventura County's population went up. Famous Jazz musicians were known to visit to get clean, and rumor has it that many of them did this at the mental institution.

    The mental hospital shut down in the late 90's and in 2002 it became California State University Channel Islands. Wandering around was creepy during restoration; the first classes were sometimes taught in rooms with the bars still on the windows (hence "can never leave")

    but hell, it's probably about drug addiction.
    Domino Hurleyon February 03, 2006   Link

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