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Hotel California by Eagles

Album: Hotel CaliforniaReleased: 1976Charted:
1
8
Get some Geography in the Hotel California Songplaces
  • Written by Don Felder, Glenn Frey and Don Henley, this song is about materialism and excess. California is used as the setting, but it could relate to anywhere in America. Don Henley in the London Daily Mail November 9, 2007 said: "Some of the wilder interpretations of that song have been amazing. It was really about the excesses of American culture and certain girls we knew. But it was also about the uneasy balance between art and commerce."

    On November 25, 2007 Henley appeared on the TV news show 60 Minutes, where he was told, "everyone wants to know what this song means." Henley replied: "I know, it's so boring. It's a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America which was something we knew about."

    He offered yet another interpretation in the 2013 History of the Eagles documentary: "It's a song about a journey from innocence to experience."
  • California is seen from the perspective of an outsider here. Only Bernie Leadon and Timothy B. Schmit were from the state: Joe Walsh came from New Jersey, Don Henley was from Texas, Glenn Frey was from Detroit, and Don Felder was from Florida. In our interview with Don Felder, he explained: "As you're driving in Los Angeles at night, you can see the glow of the energy and the lights of Hollywood and Los Angeles for 100 miles out in the desert. And on the horizon, as you're driving in, all of these images start coming into your mind of the propaganda and advertisement you've experienced about California. In other words, the movie stars, the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, the beaches, bikinis, palm trees, all those images that you see and that people think of when they think of California start running through your mind. You're anticipating that. That's all you know of California."

    Don Henley put it this way: "We were all middle-class kids from the Midwest. Hotel California was our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles."
  • This won the 1977 Grammy for Record Of The Year. The band did not show up to accept the award, as Don Henley did not believe in contests. Timothy B. Schmit had just joined the band, and he says they watched the ceremony on TV while they were rehearsing.
  • Don Felder came up with the musical idea for this song. According to his book Heaven and Hell: My Life in The Eagles, he came up with the idea while playing on the beach. He had the chord progressions and basic guitar tracks, which he played for Don Henley and Glenn Frey, who helped finish the song, with Henley adding the lyrics. Felder says they recorded the song about a year after he did the original demo, and in the session, he started to improvise the guitar part at the end. Henley stopped him and demanded that he do it exactly like the demo, so he had to call his housekeeper and have her play the cassette demo over the phone so Felder could remember what he played.
  • The lyric, "Warm smell of colitas," is often interpreted as sexual slang or a reference to marijuana. When we asked Don Felder about the term, he said: "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."

    The Eagles aimed for a full sensory experience in their songwriting. Felder adds, "When we try to write lyrics, we try to write lyrics that touch multiple senses, things you can see, smell, taste, hear. 'I heard the mission bell,' you know, or 'the warm smell of colitas,' talking about being able to relate something through your sense of smell. Just those sort of things. So that's kind of where 'colitas' came from."
  • This was recorded at three different sessions before the Eagles got the version they wanted. The biggest problem was finding the right key for Henley's vocal.
  • Glenn Frey compares this to an episode of The Twilight Zone, where it jumps from one scene to the next and doesn't necessarily make sense. He says the success of the song comes from the audience creating stories in their minds based on the images.
  • The line "They stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill the beast" is a reference to Steely Dan. The bands shared the same manager (Irving Azoff) and had a friendly rivalry. The year before, Steely Dan included the line "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening" on their song "Everything You Did."
  • Don Felder and Joe Walsh played together on the guitar solos, creating the textured sound.
  • The lyrics for the song came with the album. Some listeners thought the line "She's got the Mercedes Bends" was a misspelling of "Mercedes Benz," not realizing the line was a play on words.
  • Glenn Frey: "That record explores the under belly of success, the darker side of Paradise. Which was sort of what we were experiencing in Los Angeles at that time. So that just sort of became a metaphor for the whole world and for everything you know. And we just decided to make it Hotel California. So with a microcosm of everything else going on around us." (thanks, Moomin - London, England)
  • When the Eagles got back together in 1994, they recorded a live, acoustic version of this song for an MTV special that was included on their album Hell Freezes Over. Don Felder came up with a new guitar intro for this version the day they recorded it, and while it was not released as a single, it got a lot of airplay, helped the album top the charts the first week it was released, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, a category introduced in 1980 when the Eagles won with "Heartache Tonight."

    Felder had some beef with how the credits were listed on this new version - the original single had the composers as "Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey," implying that Felder wrote most of the song and Frey the least. The new version was credited to "Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Don Felder." Felder claims that Henley and Frey added nothing original to the new version, and that this was simply a power play. Felder was fired from the band in 2001 after disputing payments and royalties.
  • All seven past and present members of the Eagles performed this in 1998 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • The hotel on the album cover is the Beverly Hills Hotel, known as the Pink Palace. It is often frequented by Hollywood stars. The photo was taken by photographers David Alexander and John Kosh, who sat in a cherry-picker about 60 feet above Sunset Boulevard to get the shot of the hotel at sunset from above the trees. The rush-hour traffic made it a harrowing experience. Check out the hotel.
  • Although it is well known that Hotel California is actually a metaphor, there are several strange Internet theories and urban legends about the "real" Hotel California. Some include suggestions that it was an old church taken over by devil worshippers, a psychiatric hospital, an inn run by cannibals or Aleister Crowley's mansion in Scotland. It's even been suggested that the "Hotel California" is the Playboy Mansion. (thanks, Adam - Dewsbury, England)
  • The music may have been inspired by the 1969 Jethro Tull song "We Used to Know," from their album Stand up. The chord progressions are nearly identical, and the bands toured together before the Eagles recorded "Hotel California." In a BBC radio interview, Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson said laughingly that he was still waiting for the royalties. In Ian Anderson's interview with Songfacts, he makes it clear that he doesn't consider "Hotel California" to be borrowing anything from his song: "It's difficult to find a chord sequence that hasn't been used, and hasn't been the focus of lots of pieces of music. It's harmonic progression is almost a mathematical certainty you're gonna crop up with the same thing sooner or later if you sit strumming a few chords on a guitar. There's certainly no bitterness or any sense of plagiarism attached to my view on it, although I do sometimes allude, in a joking way, to accepting it as a kind of tribute."
  • After Don Henley came up with the title, a theme developed for the album. Don Felder told us how some of the other songs fit in: "Once you arrive in LA and you have your first couple of hits, you become the 'New Kid In Town,' and then with greater success, you live 'Life In The Fast Lane,' and you start wondering if all that time you've spent in the bars was just 'Wasted Time.' So all of these other song ideas kind of came out of that concept once the foundation was laid for 'Hotel California.' It was a really insightful title."
  • Don Felder: "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 all the doors wide open on a spectacular July day. I had this acoustic 12-string and I started tinkling around with it, and those Hotel California chords just kind of oozed out. Every once in a while it seems like the cosmos part and something great just plops in your lap." (thanks, Stone - Libertyville, IL)
  • An alternative interpretation of the meaning of the lyrics is that the song is a description of the journey from Need to Love and Marriage to Divorce and ultimately to the impossibility of regaining the life and happiness of the pre-divorce state.
    Initially the traveler is feeling the need of a relationship ("My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night"). The traveler meets his love and gets married ("There she stood in the doorway. I heard the mission bell"). A marriage commitment opens up the possibility of happiness but also the traveler is aware and vulnerable to the possibility of intense unhappiness ("And I was thinking to myself, this could be heaven or this could be hell")
    Unfortunately the marriage dissolves and his love becomes obsessed with money ("Her mind is Tiffany-twisted") where Tiffany" refers to the very expensive jewelry store, Tiffany & Co. With the divorce there is the division of property - she got the Mercedes Benz. After the breakup when he sees her with any guys she reassures him that the pretty, pretty boys" are just friends." In this new world of being single the other singles he meets do their dance in the courtyard" of life. They generally fall into two groups: There are those who can't stop talking about their Ex ("Some dance to remember") and there are those who don't what to say anything at all about their past marriage ("some dance to forget").
    Now in this world of being divorced he longs to return the pre-divorced state of happiness ("So I called up the captain, please bring me my wine"), but he finds that his happiness is now irrevocably in the past ("We haven't had that spirit here since 1969").
    Deep into the post-divorce single's scene with "mirrors on the ceiling, the pink champagne on ice" he is reminded that "we are all just prisoners here, of our own device." He and others want this divorce nightmare to be over, yet - "they stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast." Now frustrated, he panics and is "running for the door. I had to find the passage back to the place I was before" But he is brought up short when the night man informs him that "You can checkout any time you like (commit suicide), but you can never leave" (become pre-divorced).
    There are two choruses in the song and each mention the "Hotel California." Around the time the song was written, California was experiencing the highest divorce rate in the nation. Each chorus has lines that remember his past marriage ("Such a lovely place") and his past lover ("Such a lovely face"). The first chorus indicates that there can always be more divorces ("Plenty of room at the Hotel California, any time of year, you can find it here"). The second chorus points out that as a part of divorce you will always "bring your alibis." (thanks, David - Redwood City, CA)
  • The Hotel California album is #37 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Albums of all time. According to the magazine, Don Henley said that the band was in pursuit of a note perfect song. The Eagles spent 8 months in the studio polishing take after take after take. Henley also said, "We just locked ourselves in. We had a refrigerator, a ping pong table, roller skates and a couple cots. We would go in and stay for 2 or 3 days at a time." (thanks, Ray - Stockton, NJ)
  • According to a reader-submitted poll for Guitar World magazine, the guitar solo for this song is ranked #8 out of 100. (thanks, Romeo - Belo Horizonte, Brazil)
  • Don Felder told Gibson.com about his contribution to this track. "I thought it was really unique and different to anything ever written. The Eagles had been heading in a conventional country-rock direction. I was added to the band for my electric guitar, slide-electric ability and to help turn them into more of a rock and roll band. I was writing stronger guitar tracks that used electric guitar like 'Victim of Love' and 'Hotel California.' When I came up with the 'Hotel California' progression, I knew it was unique but didn't know if it was appropriate for the Eagles. It was kind of reggae, almost an abstract guitar part for what was on the radio back then.
    When I was writing for the Hotel California album, I was working on a TEAC 4-track in a beach house in Malibu and I was putting down ideas on tape. Then I made cassette copies and gave them to [Don] Henley, [Glenn] Frey, Walsh and [Randy] Meisner. Henley called me to say he really like the Mexican bolero, Mexican reggae song. I knew exactly which track he meant. Don came up with a great lyric concept for the song."
  • This followed "New Kid in Town" as the second single released from the album. There was no doubt about the song's merits as an album track, but issuing it as a single defied convention. Don Felder told us: "when we finally finished that whole album, the record company had been pounding on the door trying to get in and get this record, because they wanted to release it. We were about four months overdue on delivering our record per our contract. So we finally let the record company in. The execs come in and we had this playback party for them at the record plant here in Los Angeles. And after the song 'Hotel California' played, Henley turned around and said, 'That's going to be our single.'

    In the '70s, the AM format, which was what we were really aiming for, had a specific formula; your song had to be between three minutes and three minutes and thirty seconds long, and it had to be a dance track, a rock track, or a trippy ballad. The introduction could only be 30 seconds long before the singer started, so the disc jockey didn't have to speak so long.

    'Hotel California' is six and a half minutes long. The introduction to it is a minute long. You can't really dance to it. It stops in the middle when the drums stop: 'mirrors on the ceiling,' that section, and it's got a two minute guitar solo on the end. It's the complete wrong format.

    So I said, 'Don, I think you're wrong. I think that's a mistake. I don't think we should put that out as the single. Maybe an FM cut, but not a single.' And he said, 'Nope, that's going to be our single.' And I've never been so delighted to have been so wrong in my life. You just don't know."
  • In Chicago at the time of this song's popularity many people called the Cook County jail "Hotel California" because it is on California street. The name stuck and now people of all ages and races refer to the jail by this nickname. (thanks, Jesse - Chicago, IL)
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Comments: 495

Interested in a detailed explanation of the song? Follow this link.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=57033

Enjoy! You may not agree, but you won't be disappointed!
The Unveiler - Illinois
Something just occurred to me as I was reading here...this may or may not have been in the original intent, but checking out is reference to getting high, something that fits very well for the admitted theme to this song, the life of excess. Certainly, you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.Josh - Usa
Almost from the moment the song was released, people pointed out to Henley that wine is NOT a distilled spirit. At first he admitted making a mistake with that part of the lyrics. But after a while, he got so tired of people pointing that out, he would defiantly reply that these were HIS lyrics and he could call it anything he wanted. And the lyrics were almost completely Henley's. Frey helped with the shaping and editing of them, and finished a few lines that Henley had trouble with.Ken - Louisville, Ky
Henley's vocals (along with the guitar work by Felder and Walsh) are the best part of the recording. The worst is Henley's drumming - it is, at best, "pedestrian". On the Eagles 1977 tour they brought along a second drummer to punch this, and other Eagles songs, up. They continue to do this today.Ken - Louisville, Ky
The song is about "The Norconian Resort Supreme" which in 1967 and on that site was born the California Rehabilitation Center, the first state-funded addiction treatment program in the nation. This voluntary program (addicts had a choice of prison or CRC)Anthony - Stockton On Tees, United Kingdom
Song is about the Church of Satan. They were Satanists recruited by Anton LaVey. Has the most back masking I've ever heard in the song (4 times)Carlos - San Juan, Puerto Rico
I watched the Eagles DVD set, "History Of The Eagles", and, despite what everyone has said here, I'm going to go with Don Henley's version of what the lyrics mean. Only they would know because they were the ones who wrote it!Tony - Murphy, Nc
Who can say what Henley, Frey and Felder's minds were saying. All the references to Satanism are intriguing but unintentional in my mind. I'm pretty sure that the song really is an allegory of how life in the fast lane can steal your soul. (pun intended). However; the similarities of Satanism may not be coincidence. Musicians are spiritual people. Could the warnings in the song be inspired by another power? That's up to you. It's funny though, I have never been able to hear this song without thinking about "The Shining". When I found out Jack Nicholson was a fan and frequented the backstage at Eagles concerts it made sense.Lana - Scottsbluff, Ne
Like many great songs, the lyrics and their meaning is ambiguous and open to an individual's interpretation. BTW, many interesting interpretations expressed about HC in this forum. Hotel California does touch on some familiar Eagle material, such as the glamour, excesses and decadence of LA life, drugs and women as the devil, real or imagined. What Henley said about the song in the Showtime doc is probably the most succinct - "it's about a journey. Period." It's also an incredible piece of music, that guitar finish with Felder and Walsh is fantastic.Dt - Gulf Breeze, Fl
Her mind is Tiffany twisted...

(I just love that metaphor.)

Like a Tiffany lamp - very beautiful but fragile and intricately bent.
To be more verbose about it all... refers to the fragility and intricately warped thinking that comes with extreme beauty. A lot of very attractive people (men and women) have minds that are "Tiffany twisted" because when people treat a person so differently because of a very attractive appearance it can change them. One can become more superficial, more fragile and more psychologically 'bent'. We usually just say a person becomes 'conceited' or 'stuck-up' but there is so much more to what the pressures and attentions that naturally stem from being extraordinarily attractive... especially in our culture where female beauty has become the supreme prize to attain for both genders. That line of the song alludes to it all perfectly.
Scott - Roseville, Ca
Former pro wrestler turned Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura quoted the song in his 2009 book, "Don't Start The Revolution Without Me" near the end of the book.Dana - Woodbury, Mn
An all-time top ten on many fans' classic rock lists. I love all the interpretations from people, very interesting and informative by people from around the world. The song talks about all excesses of life at the top of the music world. This is one of the great songs by this band. In the past few years, there have been documentaries about how hell broke loose in the band. Joe Walsh was a great addition but a nut job. Frey became jealous of Henley's emerging role in the band and Felder especially had run-ins with Frey about being paid correctly and political issues. A great article by Bill Simmons on the ESPN feature "Grantland" (around August 14, 2013) tells of many of the stories and drama that broke up the Eagles.David - Hazlet, Nj
I have felt this for as long as I can remember and it feels so obvious to me. I almost don't want to say as I feel I know something that others dont. I have searched for my theory online and not found it, as yet. I believe some people will see it straight away and other wont see it at all. it certainly would explain why the Egales claim that such a loaded song has no meaning, yeah right!! so heres my theory and i wont paint it out, i encourage you to research it yourself.......
the song is about..... the Manson family.
I would be interested to hear views, i think may of you may see some lyrics fall in to place straight away. If you look harder, at the back ground & personalities of the family it fits even more. Even gives the date of their infamous killings.
I know I said I wasn't gonna spell it out but the clincher for me is the line "Her mind is Tiffany twisted She's got the Mercedes bends" Look at the back ground of many of the young women who joined the family. This was just another piece for me but it made it certain in my mind that its about "The Family" ...

Desert highway,
1969,
This could be heaven or this could be hell,
The Captain,
The Mirrors on the ceiling
Pink champagne on ice
prisoners here
Of our own device
Masters chambers
STEELY KNIVES!!
The beast
Check out anytime... but never leave.

Read not just about what Manson, Van Houten, Atkins, Fromme, and the rest did but also who they were, where they had come from, what they were looking for, the era...
Hotel California was a real place in the californian desert called Spahn Ranch!
Jim - Aberdeen, United Kingdom
I was thinking that it was about a traveler's encounter with some Vampires.Lisa - Veradale, Wa
How is this for a lyric review?
OK here's the deal - I seriously doubt that he wrote it thats why he refused the grammy.


On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
(On the criminal path alone and going fast, feeling good and on top of the world)
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
(Cannabis harvest is ready, selling and making money)
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
(Some time after but a near future, The police came and took him)
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
(Sadness and anger for the thought about years in prison)
I had to stop for the night.
(Going to jail because of the path)
There she stood in the doorway;
(Justitia or Lady justice in the court house saying who is guilty or not)
I heard the mission bell
(God or San Miguel Arcangel calling him to church)
And I was thinking to myself

'This could be heaven or this could be Hell'
(He can either make the best or worst of the situation)
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
(Probably a dream were Lady justice saying its your chance last to do good)
There were voices down the corridor,
(All the inmates trying to psykeout and crack the fresh fish)
I thought I heard them say

Welcome to the Hotel California
(Welcome to San Quentin State Prison, CA )
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
(double lyrics here probably means the oposite, worst place ever for gen pop.)
Such a lovely face.
(but looks very god in societies eyes)
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
(Prisoners get killed all the time so never a problem to take in new)
Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here
(They never find the guilty but it happens all the time)
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
(Realisation of how the world works, bling bling pays for AB)
(But it might actually be about the AB formation you have to ask actor "Danny Trejo" he was there so maybe some kosher-nostra, cosa-nostra hook :/)
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends
(He calls em ugly killers, the jews thinks its there allied)
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat
(He watches as they fight in the yard, to the last man standing)
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
(Some fights are for the history books, others isn't)
So I called up the Captain,
(Asks to speak to probably the warden or prison priest)
'Please bring me my wine'
(Let me go to church and take the holy communion)
He said, 'we haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-nine'
(He thanks him for realizing drugs corrupts the church, something about Nixon's war on drugs after becoming president)
And still those voices are calling from far away,
(Since he is not i a gang they still try to crack him)
Wake you up in the middle of the night
(Not really sure can mean getting raped? or stabbed)
Just to hear them say"
(Only cus they try to crack him)
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
(Treating him as a girl?, acting like animals)
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise), bring your alibis
(Just as he expected not a surprise at all, think he means going to another place in his mind, or if he got stabbed they have to prove their innocence)
Mirrors on the ceiling,
(his mind is growing dark and becoming like them)
The pink champagne on ice
(Pushing his female lust a side)
And she said, 'we are all just prisoners here, of our own device'
(This is our own fault they the people put this system in place)
And in the master's chambers,
(He ganged upp whit others and became a leader)
They gathered for the feast
(they prepared and planned there revenge)
They stab it with their steely knives,
(Trying to destroy the enemy gang)
But they just can't kill the beast
(But the fail?)
Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door
(Tried to escape maybe, or begging for his life)
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
(Either had to get to freedom or make peace with the gang)
'Relax' said the night man,
(chill its maximum sec. said the guards)
'We are programmed to receive.
(We only take prisoners in)
You can check out any time you like,
(You can take your life)
But you can never leave!'
(But never be free)
----
got a bit sloppy at the end I'm tired sorry :)

there u go ;) but what ever this mean its one of the best composed and written songs ever!!
seriously ask Danny Trejo about this ;) Danny Trejo: actor—inmate between 1965 and 1968.
Henrik - Eslöv, Sweden
HOTEL CALIFORNIA is a song about checking into a drug rehab in California. Many state it refers to Synanon the infamous first known drug treatment program which you basically never leave, and was located in California. If anyone is familiar with TC terminology, you hear a whole host of it in this song..... If you listen to some of the lyrics they mention a "nightman" which is the TC term used referring individuals who help watch the facility at night. When it states that "we are all prisoners here of our own device", back in those days there weren't really any programs to help addicts and society really didn't want you. Therefore there was no place else to help you (we are all prisoners here)this was the only place
for you to fight your addiction (of our own device). Also it talks about the Master's chambers, and the feast which is considered "encounter groups", stabbing the beast references the disease of addiction. Hotel California is synonymous in recovery with therapeutic communities, TC's and long-term treatment.
Trinity - Queens, Ny
I don't think Henley, Frey and the other members knew enough about Satanic symbolism to have secretly laid such a subtly intricate weave of symbols into the lyrics, not unless they were full-fledged Satanist, which they weren't, or they collaborated with someone who did know those things and was skilled and experienced in writing them into lyrics, which apparently is more common than expected in rock and roll music. A lot of heavy metal bands, like KISS, were heavy into Satanism. Hotel California's Satanic symbols then isn't uncommon. The idea that Anton LaVey could be peering out the window on back of the cover isn't that far-fetched and could be the very person the Eagles collaborated with on the lyrics.Harry - Sunnyvale, Ca
Hotel California interpreted as a euphemism for the space one enters when they take LSD

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
When you go you go alone and you have heard lots of words about how cool the the experience is

Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
The Marijuana you and the others you are with are smoking while waiting for the effects.

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
The first flashes of the effects

My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
Something weird is happening

I had to stop for the night
The mind can no longer see where it is going

There she stood in the doorway;
The first images beaconing you to enter the experience of LSD. Music (She -The Muse) is probably influencing one altered state of mind

I heard the mission bell
church bell -The LSD experience is very spiritual in nature
all great music is about love or the tragedy that occurs when it is absent (religious context LSD feels like it embodies the real intent of christian church dogma)

And I was thinking to myself,

"This could be Heaven or this could be Hell"
we have been told taking drugs is bad and the intrigue feels like it could be a delusion but the wondrous images and feeling of love seem as if we are entering heaven

Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
It is very hard to organize one thoughts during the onset but eventually a coherent stream of thought begins to coalesce
she (the muse) music is the best guide in the LSD experience

There were voices down the corridor,
Something begins to catch ones attention. seems there is a form of information reflected onto the mind from the visions

I thought I heard them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California

Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)

Such a lovely face
the visions will have you in awe and will reflect LOVE and good feelings

Plenty of room at the Hotel California
there seems to be no limits to one's expanded mind and it's perception of reality.

Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here
This space is always here we just are not aware of it

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends.
The visions are like patterns on a tiffany lamp. following the pattern of
the Muse in the poetry of Rock and roll lyrics is like riding in plush vehicle driving you deep into your mind.

She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
Rock Stars who serve the muse.

How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Rock and Roll show

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
Who am I? or "Heads all empty without a care"

So I called up the Captain,
Ones god concept

"Please bring me my wine"
He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine"
When we meet again we will share a new wine (sic Bible) (morning glory wine)
Timothy Leary stated at about this time that alcohol is the anti-psychedelic and recommended not mixing them

And still those voices are calling from far away,
It is truly the feeling of entering a far away world and there seems to be a dis-embodied voices in ones mind

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
The visions will have you in awe most of the time and are leading to pleasing visions of LOVE

They livin' it up at the Hotel California
LSD allows your mind to be released, feeling none of the restraints experienced in the normal state of mind.

What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
One discovers that all you need is LOVE

Bring your alibis
Reasons for not loving and or memories of justifications for when one was unkind to another. self judgement phase

Mirrors on the ceiling,
Cant run away from yourself

The pink champagne on ice
relax drink it in be at peace for once.

And she said "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"
the limits of your mind are the limits on your idea of yourself and life

And in the master's chambers,
LSDs full effect is being felt" Love is confirmed as the force behind Life

They gathered for the feast
Many experience peace "the food of love" the first time in a universal way

They stab it with their steely knives,
Trying to hate something away, it could be in ones own bad idea of them selves this really causes disruption in one mind when sailing on the sea of love

But they just can't kill the beast.
Being overwhelmed with the task of dealing with ones own guilt.
Can't figure out how to communicate the wonder of love to those who don't under stand
The thought that the experience is all just fantasy and the world and it's people are far from understanding truth and Love and will continue justifying there lives at the cost of another's life.
The waking reality enters that the world which does not seem very loving and who is it's master?
If Love is everything, what about war and murderous death and the purveyors of it.
Enter the eater of Love (Bad Trip)

Last thing I remember, I was

Running for the door

I had to find the passage back

To the place I was before
The devil or a dark force must be real and these thoughts are getting pretty scary..
and one might want the experience to end at this time.

"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "
The LSD experience is hard to shake from ones memory
And the idea of ones self will likely be changed forever.

Interpretation by Ron Love
Ron - Healdsburg, Ca
I always thought this song was about a madhouse.Adam - D.f., Mexico
Bells are the illusion, voices comment our faith and fun. never check out! , love love the song. allways remember the history behind the song.. tytyty... KimberlyKimberly - Landing, Nj
Thank you David, Redwood Cali.

Your Views of Pain and Sweet are shown in every day life as 4th learning our events mark life in true form.
Thank You. Kimberly
Kimberly - Landing, Nj
I just discovered this site while I was looking for something else. I clicked on the Hotel California link in "Today's Top 10" just to see what it said, because Hotel California is my favorite song by the Eagles; my second-favorite is Take It Easy, because it mentions Winslow, AZ (I'm from Tucson). They were really hot when my husband and I were in jr. high and high school back in the early 70's. My husband actually saw them in concert in 1977 on the "Hotel California" tour in Tampa...he was at the concession stand, and he passed a bottle of ketchup to a guy wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses. Later on, during the show, he discovered that it was Don Henley! So I have been listening to this song since it first hit the air waves--I'm 51 now--and I will confess that I still don't know what it is about. But I sure had a good time reading other people's opinions...some people have a LOT of time on their hands! My husband says he doesn't know what it means either. I guess that is the essence of great art: it means something different to every person. It means whatever you think it means. Being a child of the 70's with plenty of friends who did acid (not me, I was way too scared of that stuff), I guess I figured it was about an acid trip. I would NEVER have played my precious vinyl backwards, even if I could figure out how to do that, so I don't know about the accuracy of all the satan stuff. I do have the original album of "Hotel California," and after reading all these comments, I got it out and have been perusing the photo inside of the hotel lobby. Actually, it reminds me of a collage; the lighting is uneven, although maybe that was the photog's intention. I also see the person looking over the railing on the second floor; on my copy, it isn't clear enough to even begin to guess at the person's gender or identity. So I don't really get a lot of the things that some people read into the photo. Frankly, to me, other than the five members of the Eagles in the center, the whole thing looks fake, like all of the other figures in the photo are cardboard cutouts. Probably hadn't looked at that photo in 30 years! Hahaha At any rate, it's STILL a great song!Lisa - Miami, Fl
when the compact disk first came this was the first album i had to get on disk. This is one of the songs I never get tired of hearing and that says it all!!!!!Timothy Moore Sr. - Tontogany, Oh
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...

The "Captain" could refer to the head of the spirits who are managing this strange after-death, after-life place. Perhaps, the request is for the elixir of life. The word elixir is derived from the Arabic name for miracle substances, "al iksir." Some view it as a metaphor for the spirit of God (e.g. Jesus' reference to "the Water of Life" or "the Fountain of Life") John 4:14 "But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”. The Scots and the Irish adopted the name for their "liquid gold": the Gaelic name for whiskey is 'uisge beatha', or water of life.

The numeral 1969 is 19 and 69, with this strange after-death, after-life place called Hotel California being in-between the two.
As for Number 19 in Christian Numerology (From 'Biblical Meaning of Numbers' at
http://www.christian-resources-today.com/biblical-meaning-of-numbers.html ) it deals with the perfection of divine order that is in relation to judgment. Or if we take the numbers separately as one and nine for nineteen, we know that the Biblical Meaning of Number One is the number of God. Independence is also attached to this number as well, for it excludes all things that are different. This number is also used when marking the beginnings of things. Unity is very common when defining this number, for it stands alone and cannot be divided.
Additionally, the Biblical meaning of number nine is judgment or finality. Basically, it's used when judging man and all of his works. This number has also been used in Christianity to describe the perfect movement of God. Therefore, in this instance of nine as in nineteen, I prefer to use the latter reference namely, to describe the perfection of God.
Moreover, if you search the entire Holy Quran for the number nineteen written out in Arabic "tisa-ashr", you will find it in one verse:
74:31 "On it (are) nineteen."
The Holy Quran itself explains the significance of the number 19 in the immediately following verse:
74:32 "And We have made the guardians of the Fire to be Angels; and We did not make their number except as a test for those who have rejected, so that those who were given the Scripture would understand, and those who have faith would be increased in faith, and so that those who have been given the Scripture and the believers do not have doubt, and so that those who have a sickness in their hearts and the rejecters would Say: "What did God mean with an example such as this?" It is such that God misguides whom He wishes, and He guides whom He wishes. And none know your Lord's soldiers except Him. And it is but a reminder for mankind."
Thus as 19 is symbolic of Hell, Fire, and its guardians, the avoidance of which requires spiritual guidance, leading to eternal life, and salvation, all of which are created for man who can exercise their free will in this life, according to which his "deeds blossom in the dust".
Also if 19 could signify the creation of Hell, which was necessitated only after creation of beings with free will, then it also signifies the beginning of time as relevant for man, namely the creation of the first Man, Adam (alaihi salam). (I am doubtful whether to insert Abdullah Yusuf Ali's intro to Chapter LXXVI Dhar or Al Insan, where he brings out referring to Einstein's Theory of Relativity that Time is not absolute, and is relative. Also in doubt whether to insert references from scriptures to show that Time will be 'killed' or will-end, and the next-world of timelessness and eternity will begin)

In the numeral sixty nine, the number 6 could stand for the six ages, or aeons, or stages in which the world was created, according to both the Holy Bible and the Holy Quran.
Also the Biblical meaning of number Six is the number of man. This number is also used when referring (human labor) or (secular completeness) This number also is attached when describing the constant battle between spirit and flesh, which was brought out earlier in the quote of the Holy Quran 74:32.
And we have already seen that Biblical Meaning of Number is judgment or finality. Basically, it's used when judging man and all of his works. This number has also been used to describe the perfect movement of God. However, in this instance of nine in sixty-nine I prefer to use the earlier reference namely, of judgment or finality, when judging man and all of his works.
Therefore the meaning in its entirety is that this strange place does not have the elixir once man lost his spiritual existence or paradise, which is the neighborhood of the One God or the one (1), or the Perfect one (9). Having choice of free will, the consequent actions of human beings (6) and deeds in this world are subject to judgement (9), by God, following which man could be designated eternal salvation or eternal perdition, over the latter there being nineteen. Thus the final completion of the cycle by referring again to nineteen where we began, establishes the element of perpetuity and eternity in Hell and Heaven.

And thus the 'voices were calling from far away', cause voices necessarily need not belong to those with bodies, and 'far away' could be in distance or space, or in time and from memory as in a dream... The next line emphasizes more that it could be dream-like, for one can only 'wake up' from sleep and we have already seen sleep as the sister of death, and if sunset of life is death then the endless night stands for after-death. Thus in this after-death time and place, where there is no dimension of time and space, we wake up from our dreamy death-sleep to hear:
Mohamed - Delhi, India
Spiritual Meaning of the Song: Hotel California
Since my college days, I am familiar with the lyrics of this song by Eagles called "Hotel California". However, lately I have been looking at it from a quite different perspective, and I was surprised at what I saw. The opening stanza is:

"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"

On a dark desert highway,

The 'dark desert highway' is the highway of our life. It is dark and in the desert for when we are close to death or are dying, we are in the dusk or sunset of our life, and also alone, for those whom we leave behind have to tarry some more time in the world.

cool wind in my hair
Having been tormented by the pain and agony of death, death itself is a relief from the pain, and so our sweating brow and head will feel 'cool wind', however warm the desert breeze might be, because of the evaporation of the deathly sweat.

Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
By 'Colitas', the writers of the song tell us they are referring to 'little buds', and when we are dying, we can see a flash back of our life, memories running fast through our mind, from which the sweet aroma of our good deeds that we had done will rise up in the air and spread its fragrance, long after we are gone. Like the poet James Shirley in his poem "Death the Leveller" writes: "Only the actions of the just. Smell sweet and blossom in the dust"

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
The shimmering light ahead in the distance, could well be the abode for the dead. The spiritual space between life and after-life. It could for those who believe in Heaven and Hell be its shimmering light, beckoning, a beacon to all the souls, a destination for ever. Thus the Holy Quran states:
Truly Hell is a place of Ambush. For the transgressors a place of destination: they will dwell therein for ages. Holy Quran Chapter 78: 21 to 23

My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
As one passes on from life to death, the last signs of life ebb away from the worn out body. As with sleep, so with death, the head grows heavy, for death is but an endless sleep till resurrection (See Walter Toman wrote 'No Resurrection? Only Endless Sleep' http://www.sgipt.org/e/lit/toman_e.htm ). Moreover, as we know in sleep, it is only the body that sleeps, while the part of mind not in the dominion of sleep, roams in the space less and timeless place of dreams. So also in death, it is only the body that dies, but the spirit, free of its bodily cage, lives on eternally.

I had to stop for the night
Also, any medico will tell us that the eyes, or the reaction of pupils in the eye, show us the last sign of life. Therefore, the sight grows dim in the dying. And then when the day of our life is done, we have to but stop for the night.

The second stanza continues:
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...

For me the first two lines of the second stanza signify someone who receives us at the entrance into the strange land at death. With the mission bell sounding the time when we give up our ghost, we have arrived. But where, we know not! For, when we die, certainly we would all be wondering, whether the place we are being led to is Heaven or Hell.
The candle is lit up by the one who welcomes, and being a candle only lights up things near, and we can discern only a corridor... Even the voices coming down the corridor the listener thinks he hears they are welcoming him/her to this strange "Hotel California" with these words that form the chorus:

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

The chorus on Hotel California extolling it as a "lovely place", is because it is not of this world. Also, because all of us must land up there after death, when we do not have our bodies, and do not require physical space, there would naturally be "plenty of room at the Hotel California". Here it will help us if we remember that souls are spiritual, made of light, and do not occupy physical space. And so, let's examine the third stanza which says:

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

In the third stanza we learn that our hostess is good-looking with many pretty companions as friends. Specifically, the usage of "pretty" as an adjective for boys could be to signify that since souls lack bodies, and therefore sex and gender, adjectives appropriate for females can be as appropriate for males too.

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...

The "Captain" could refer to the head of the spirits who are managing this strange after-death, after-life place. Perhaps, the request is for the elixir of life. The word elixir is derived from the Arabic name for miracle substances, "al iksir." Some view it as a metaphor for the spirit of God (e.g. Jesus' reference to "the Water of Life" or "the Fountain of Life") John 4:14 "But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”. The Scots and the Irish adopted the name for their "liquid gold": the Gaelic name for whiskey is 'uisge beatha', or water of life.

The numeral 1969 is 19 and 69, with this strange after-death, after-life place called Hotel California being in-between the two. Search the entire Holy Quran for the number nineteen written out in Arabic "tisa-ashr", you will find it in one verse:
74:31 "On it (are) nineteen."
The Holy Quran itself explains the significance of the number 19 in the immediately following verse:
74:32 "And We have made the guardians of the Fire to be Angels; and We did not make their number except as a test for those who have rejected, so that those who were given the Scripture would understand, and those who have faith would be increased in faith, and so that those who have been given the Scripture and the believers do not have doubt, and so that those who have a sickness in their hearts and the rejecters would Say: "What did God mean with an example such as this?" It is such that God misguides whom He wishes, and He guides whom He wishes. And none know your Lord's soldiers except Him. And it is but a reminder for mankind."
Therefore while 19 talks of spiritual guidance, eternal life, and salvation, the number 69 as we all know refers to a symbolic representation of physical life, namely the sexual union, which requires material bodies. Therefore the meaning in its entirety is that this strange place does not have the elixir once man lost his spiritual existence or paradise or 19, and gained his physical one, as life in this world, coming into it from the union of the sperm and ova.
And thus the 'voices were calling from far away', cause voices necessarily need not belong to those with bodies, and 'far away' could be in distance or space, or in time and from memory as in a dream... The next line emphasizes more that it could be dream-like, for one can only 'wake up' from sleep and we have already seen sleep as the sister of death, and if sunset of life is death then the endless night stands for after-death. Thus in this after-death time and place, where there is no dimension of time and space, we wake up from our dreamy death-sleep to hear:

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

The last three lines of the second chorus is a shade different from the first occurrence of the chorus. Herein the reference is to everyone 'living it up', and one can only 'live it up' in your after life, if you deserved it through your deeds in this one. Thus after all the sacrifices, and the hardship, the patience and the perseverance involved in following the straight and narrow, dark and desert highway, the living it up comes as a just and "nice surprise". The seconds voice, namely the last line of the chorus reminds that we bring our past deeds as our 'alibis', as the poet James Shirley, wrote, "Only the actions of the just. Smell sweet and blossom in their dust. "

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

We look up, yearning for salvation, but see "mirrors on the ceiling" mirrors which shows the past memories of all our life's deeds. And we are more concerned amongst our deeds about those punk ones that we put on ice, like the punk band "Pink Champagne". These questionable acts, of which we are so much in doubt, bind us in chains, so that we are " all just prisoners here, of our own device". Interesting to see the lyrics of 'Abandon All Ships' that says: "The binding chains made me realize. Sin is the anchor, holding you down. I'm on a cruise to Paradise." the same thought of sinner as a prisoner is in 89:26 of the Holy Quran which states: "And none will bind as He will bind." the same idea is also represented in 76:4 of the Holy Quran, which states: "For the Rejecters we have prepared chains, yokes, and a blazing Fire."
If we take "Pink Champagne" to be a variety of drink, though I prefer not, as we know that 'the fountain' and 'cups full of drink' are for the righteous in the personification of Heaven, for which there are numerous references as in the Holy Quran:
76:5 "As to the Righteous, they shall drink of a Cup (of Wine) mixed with Camphor."
Sins bind the sinner in a chain of causes and effects, due to which he loses his free will to repent, amend and follow the right guidance and ultimately destroys himself in the blazing fire of punishment. On the other hand the righteous who have surrendered their free will to the will of Allah and followed His right guidance will have wholesome, agreeable and refreshing drinks which do not cause intoxication. Camphor is cool and refreshing like ice. Moreover, there is a reference in the same chapter of the Holy Quran:
76:17 And they will be given to drink there of a Cup (of Wine) mixed with Zanjabil,-
76:18 A fountain there, called Salsabil.

Then they gather in the "master's chambers", and he or she could be the guardian, captain, head, leader of this strange Hotel, and it is a festival, or a "feast", that they are "living it up", and "trying to kill the beast", about which God says in the Holy Quran,

“And when the Word (of torment) is fulfilled against them, We shall bring out from the earth a beast to them, which will speak to them because mankind believed not with certainty in Our Signs” (al-Naml 27:82).

This verse refers to the beast of the earth who will appear shortly before the Day of Judgment. When the Beast comes, it will distinguish the people and declare who is a believer and who is a disbeliever.

Also, there are many Biblical references in Daniel's prophecies of the Reveleation, but I think they are not of life after death. Yet for knowledge sake, the literal references for the beasts in Revelation are:
Revelation 11:7 – the beast that comes up out of the abyss.
Revelation 12:3 – the red dragon (seven heads and ten horns)
Revelation 12:9 – the dragon (Satan)
Revelation 13:1 – a beast that comes up out of the sea (seven heads and ten horns).
Revelation 13:11 – Another beast (the false prophet)
Revelation 17:3 – a red beast (seven heads and ten horns) comes up out of the abyss.

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! "

When the bell of remembrance strikes in us, we shall realize it in our inmost being, how we had wasted all our past life in the illusions of this fleeting world. Then we shall remember, and wish, too late, that we had repented as said in the Holy Quran:
89:23 And hell is made to appear that day.On that day man will be mindful, and of what use will being mindful be then?
89:24 He will say: O would that I had sent before for (this) my life!
Thus, we try to find the passage back to walk the dark and desert highway of life once more, doing all the good. But the night man is ever watchful. Once dead, we cannot return. So, Why not repent now? Why not bring forth the fruits of repentance now, as a preparation for this Hereafter of which we have had a graphic look at, thanks to the Eagles?
- Essa Mohamed Rafique
Mohamed - Delhi, India
Big Lebowski... Gipsy Kings version is really King. Its something you can move your body to, and want to grow a fancy bigote!Matthew - East Brunswick, Nj
Chad in Corona - Well, if the Hotel California was the Norconian/ prison facility, it's due for a rehabilitation. It's about to be shut down and restored to its former grandeur. The luxury hotel is coming back, plus a shopping center, a resort, maybe even apartments and whatever else Mayor Bash can think of. I couldn't make this up.Ekristheh - Halath, United States
Honestly the hotel does show separation between two. Sweet and Sour.

Hard at times to Understand, Just a Stepping Stone. To Become What WE Believe IN.

Thank You, The lyrics are in tru form..
Kimberly - Landing, Nj
I am amazed and fascinated that so many people have so many different interpretations of this song. Sorry, but the "Hotel California" is the rich and famous L.A. lifestyle of the era, which was replete with huge amounts of drugs, women and other assorted good and bad things. Everybody wants it and, when they get it, they "can never leave". In other words, they can never bring themselves to get away no matter how good or bad things get.Ken - Philadelphia, Pa
Forget all the rest of the interpretations, they're all wrong. The song is about addiction, and it was different for each member of the band. Joe Walsh may have felt it was about his cocaine addiction. Frey may have been women. Henley may have been money. As you know they wrote universal songs, where the song didn't mean just one thing, like a guy goes to a hotel to buy a joint. No, it's more universal than that. Obviously it's about addiction if you can never leave. Why can't you leave? Of course you can as long as you don't have lines of coke and needles hanging out of your arms!

Just get up and go, no one can hold you hostage, but an addiction can. That's the official answer!
Joe Wilson - Before, Nh
It is what we make of our own reality.

Allways room in hotel cali.

Sweet summer sweat.

We forget the courtyard .

As we remember our sub con shis as she or he Lives,Love ,and finally Learns.

What complete s us.

Enjoy lifes short passages , for the doors are programed.*
Kimberly - Landing, Nj
In relation to Don Henley's comment about it being about American excesses and the dark underbelly of the American dream, you could conclude that they may have been influenced by writers such as Hunter S.Thompson, and Kerouac, who deal with this subject matter.

These excesses encoded in the lyrics therefore could very well be a reference to part of this dark underbelly, illicit drug use, in particular opiates. 'Relax said the nightman, we are programmed to "receive" could be referring to the fact that in every human body there are many opiate "receptors" mainly in the brain, the spinal chord, and the digestive tract.

They are part of the "human endogenous morphine" or "endorphin" system. They also respond to drugs such as Opium, heroin, and other opiates.

"You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave" could be describing the fact that you can try to wean yourself off them, but your body ultimately will always be willing and able to absorb these substances.
Dave - Dublin, Ireland
The Album cover was taken in the old 'hotel" once a mental hospital in Camarillo. If you choose to think, they were singing about the patient in that mental hospital way back.."you can check in anytime but you cant get out" and so many more words that someone with mentalSanne - La, Ca
I think Hotel California is a tremendous ballad, but I have often wondered if the song uses California as a smokescreen. Mentioning 1969 could be reference to Woodstock.
Maybe even abut the moonlanding.
Wendell - Milton, Pe
It's so nice the amount of care that eagles put in each note and word of each song they made. For example, in this song, how the solo of the two guitars fits and talks with the drum and the bass. Perfect.Stefano - Rome, Italy
Cool song by a good rock band. I wondered if it was a dream though, possibly a nightmare caused excess of whatever that person was into. Just an idea.
Also County lockup is sometimes called "Hotel California".
Joel - Vallejo, Ca
I always thought the song was about a haunted hotel...
Oh well, the point is, it's a great song. The lyrics are just... amazing!
Snow - ..., Ny
I have been teaching English as an International Language for about seven years in Thailand. I am the ONLY university teacher that teaches English using Hotel California. Why? Because the song is internationally known and my Thai parents know this song. Two classes each semester and including two summer sessions ( 16 in all) I have used the song to teach English. This is a story telling song that does not fit into any specific genre which is why I chose this song for class. Thai students have their own interpretations, when in groups of five in a class of 25 allows for some unique conclusions. The song is broken up into the stanzas, one for each group with the chorus open to all of the class for interpretation. In groups, they discuss what the meaning is and they must describe in detail what is happening. For example; there she stood in the doorway - What does she look like? What is she wearing? What is she doing? I define smell of colitas as a flowering cactus plant similar to the Thai "Painful Plant" at Temple ( Do not make any drug references as they need to draw their own conclusions). This class usually takes two lessons to complete where each group has to present their stanza and what they think the English meaning of the song. At the end of the second class the groups then must listen to each group and then consider what the song means to them. To add another dimension I usually have one group of Thai young women and one group of Thai young men then the rest mixed groups. The Thai social / cultural aspects the can be reviewed within American and Thai societies. I am amazed of the creative conclusions that my Thai ELL's come up with. From a "haunted hotel" to "love triangle" to "Nightmare or Bad Dream" to "a man in a coma reliving his life," yes, addiction is also a theme that comes up with sex, drugs, alcohol. I am always impressed with the creative conclusions that the Thai students come up with. There is no wrong or right conclusion nor do I give my perspective as my objective is English language learning. I will continue using this communicative metacognitive English language teaching approach within my classroom.Ajaan Rob - Chiangmai, Thailand
Compare the Lyricks to Proverbs Chapter 7:6-27, and parts of Chapters 2 and 9, about a young man "going down the street near her corner in the direction of her house, at twighlight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in". Out came a woman to meet him, and invited him in to her house, which was decorated very sensually, inviting him to "drink deeply of love till morning", leading him with her smooth talk, and he followed her "like an ox going to slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life". "Many are the victims she has brought down, her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death". "Her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of hte dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life." "The woman folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way. Let all who are simple come in here, she says to those who lack judgment. Stolen water is sweet, food eaten is secret is delicious! But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave."D. Lee - Fort Worth, Tx
I believe that this song can be freely interpreted according to the context of those who listen to it. For me, I always think of life immediately after death. Hotel California is just a place where our souls have to be confined temporarily before we are brought to another place where our souls should belong to.

Another metaphor that I like is that Hotel California is something representing addiction to drug. Because people can use drug but can hardly quit it. Likewise, you can check in Hotel California but you can’t never leave it. As someone has mentioned below, H may be abbreviation of Heroin , while C may represents Cocaine.
Thyrocyte - Bangkok, Thailand
The hotel on the album was a picture of the Hotel del Coronado on the island of the same name next to San Diego, Ca. The influences to this song could be from the movie Psycho with Twilight Zone and Lost in Space. The Shining with Jack Nicholson later resembles the erieness. A lot of rich widows live there driving their benz. The hotel is truely magnificent, with alot of parties on the weekends, really a huge place, you can get lost in it.Michael Scott - Punta Gorda, Fl
it is about people who come to California from other parts of the country. They live in California and they can never leave on an emotional level... even after they move out of California. You can check out any time you like..but you can never leave......Mady - Los Angeles, Ca
first Going to California by Led Zeppelin then this? I wonder why all the really good songs are about California... well, besides that point, this song is one of my favorites, as it is many's. It has a tropical, rock, wild west mixed feel to it, and sounds amazing. the guitar on it is fun to listen to as well.Remmick - Indianapolis, In
I had to enter a comment because this is my favorite song of all time. It resinated with me when my father used a line from the song "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave." What he meant by it is that as a teenager living at home I could leave and go elsewhere, but I could never actually leave. I'd always be a part of my dad and my childhood shaped me as an adult. As a teenager in love, we played this song to go with our pink champagne on ice that my to-be husband has stolen from his mom's apartment to give to me. This song is about the journey of life and how experiences shape your life, it's about love found, and love lost. It's about romance and that feeling of being in love and wanting to regain that feeling (dancing to remember), and about love lost (dancing to forgot). It's about beautiful women with the pretty, pretty boys that she calls friends (jealousy, lust). It's about stabbing the beast and not being able to rid yourself it it (jealousy, anger over lover). This song has meant so much to me as my life has passed. Still to this day when my husband and I are in a fight, it plays on the radio to remind of how petty we are being. As Don Felder himself says, this song is about life's excesses in LA at the time. Of course to many its evolved in its meaning as time goes by, but its fitting for today's society and experiences; at least for me.Melody - Albuquerque, Nm
Every time I hear "Hotel California" it reminds me of an old episode of "Ghost Story" (TV series from 1972-73) called "Time of Terror". Patricia Neal stars as a woman who checks into a resort hotel in the desert with her husband. She soon finds out her husband has checked out, but she can't. Yet no one seems surprised. In exploring the hotel and trying to locate her husband, she encounters small clues about what has happened. At the end of the episode, she figures out the truth --- they were both in a car wreck. She died, but he survived (after first mistakingly checking into the hotel).Walt - Astoria, Or
This song is the best song ever. (In my opinion.) :)
Much loooove.
Taylor - Port Lavaca, Tx
someone knows what I am talking about. A couple of more clues, reporter doing story on danger of convertibles, the dog that jumped in licking the blood on the floor boards. contact was tried, but unsuccessful, wanted to tell loved ones how much they meant to him, it was stupid, didnt do it before. spotted by twins, they were at their truck and reported it. the pieces are foggy, +40 years agoWayne - Phoenix, Az
It involves a convertible roll over in the 60's, violent, bloody.Wayne - Phoenix, Az
Man was I 'wrong' about my interpretation! Ever since highschool, I thought it was a very 'Twilight Zone" type story: A guy out joy riding, maybe a little high, maybe a little drunk out late at night. Passes out at the wheel and dies. From there he goes to the afterlife: heaven or hell? It depends, did he want the hedonistic life that he got in the after life? Then it was heaven. But, it seems that he rejected it and tried to leave. So, he is stuck in what he would call hell, for eternity.I always thought of the song as a reminder to stay sober - at least when driving. From the blogs here, I'd have to say I was a bit off.Lyle - Holland, Mi
the last song on the vinyl album had to be turned over to complete the song - what was the name of that song?Elaine - Oakwood, Ga
I love this entire album. I had the vinyl which the last song on one side and you had to turn over to the other side for it to finish. Wasn't that song named Wasted Time? If not what was it?Elaine - Oakwood, Ga
I don't want to read the comments first but I just bought this song and listened to it and read the lyrics on it at the same time. Check it out:

In my mind- it's a rooming house. He enters, there's a beautiful woman showing him to her room. As he goes inside, it's disgusting. Horrible how these people can subcuum themselves to this for drugs, or lack of money due to their lack of taking care of their responsibilities.

Plenty of room because no one wants to live there. The place used to be a hotel, so when asks for the wine, they laugh at him and say it hasn't been like that since before Vietnam.

Her mind is tiffany twisted, meaning she's drunk. She's got a bendz because she turns tricks, hence the pretty boys she calls friends. She has a bendz but can't live anywhere else because she spends all her money to look good and get high.

Mirrors on the ceiling for her customers. They puthemselves in the situation, that's why their there on their own devices. The beast the tenants are trying to kill is their vices, the pain and heartache, guilt, anger, and hole they've gotten themselves into. They work with each other because they've shut everyone else out. (This isn't about all people that live in rooming houses, I'm just interpreting the song, and just got out of a situation so much similiar to it, so my mind is conjoining with it.)

He can't leave, symbolizes him bringing himself there and staying too long and getting in a sense stuck there. That's why they said you can check out whenever but you can't leave.

That's my input, like I said, just upgraded from a rooming house to an apartment, and I'm telling you yo, that s--t aint cute at all. That s--t was hard. Been through a lot, a lot was in there, feel me. I can feel it in my heart that's what this song about. Just an opinion, though,
Bella - Atlanta, Ga
"Glenn Frey compares this to an episode of The Twilight Zone." I just realized that the guitar solo sounds like the Twilight Zone motif!Me - None, Afghanistan
I remember buying my first Cassette tape in my life for this band when i was 12 the only song took my mind was this song.I dont Believe in any word about cocaine or devil relating to this song its just words came out in the head of don henley and the rest of the band and they wrot it down and make a great music with it.Majed - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
I believe the song Hotel California is about heroin addiction. The reason I say this is because I had a cousin whos only escape from the demon was suicide. At his funeral he requested the song to be played. They played it over and over and the memory is still haunting.Daniel - Odessa, Tx
Thanks to editing software I was able to edited out the vocal of HC and just have the intro and ending of the song on my ipod {that's about three minutes of great guitar rock}. I've always been a big fan of rock instrumentals, starting with Duane Eddy & The Champs in the 1950s!!!Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I was told that this song was about an old masacre...Joe - El Paso, Tx
It's about San Quentin Prison IN California. Relax said the nightman, we are programed to recieve. (Night Wathchman).
You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave. (DREAMING or falling asleep IN THE PENETENTIARY) you rented a room at the hotel CA! he tells the Captain TO PLEASE BRING HIM HIS WINE-{FLAVORED DRINK}EXAMPLE PRISON KOOL AID LOL. so the cap sez " we havent had that SPIRIT since 69 . lol as in wine and spiritual cheer in gloomy places. as told by a friend who was locked up there with freaks queens etc . he tried to escape, mentally he cant leave physically--Illumadept, Dallas TX
Cory - Dallas, Tx
AMAZING LYRICS, I must say. Wow. I love deep feeling put into the words of a song, and they just poured on the emotion. It's simply beautiful and inspiring, and can be taken many different ways, showing just how diverse people really are. It's a brilliant song.Erika - West Band, Wi
Wow there are a lot of comments about this song.I realize this is an extremly overplayed song that not withstanding this is a tremendous song. I don't know for sure but to me it seems like a lot marijuana was smoked while writting this song. It really has a cool laid back southern California,dreamy feel to it. I strongly advise watching and listening to the 1994 hell freezes over perfomance. This performance is an acoustic performance. Don felder plays classical guitar on this wich is incredible. This performance shows how the Eagles were great musicians. There is no pyrotechnics no laser light show no girls in bikinis. No dj spinning a record a turntable no special effects of any kind. All there is are musicians showing there tremendous talent and not relying on bulls--t to get them through a performance. I also reccomend listening to this in 5.1 surround you will feel like you are there.Brian - Boston, Ma
Wow this song really has many meanings to a lot of people! The reason is that when people listen to the lyrics (which are very clear and you can actually hear them unlike other artists) they actually see themselves and apply meaning to the symbols. This is my interpretation: Apparently this guy is driving out to a hotel to meet a lover (on a dark desert highway,,,) and he's smoking looking for trouble. Then he see's her, the women he's having an affair with and they meet at this hotel. (such a lovely face such a lovely place... sweet summer sweat) And the other people at this hotel are there for the same reason and they like it, and he likes having this affair. and of course they have to bring there "alibi's" because they don't want there spouses knowing where they are. People are there to "remember" there passion for sex or "forget" bad relationships. The part about "stabbing it with there steely knives..." would then be about trying to kill the addiction but you can never "kill the beast" that makes you a cheater. However the story isn't so rosy because once you come to hotel California it is impossible to leave because its hard to walk away from an affair. You can try to "check out, but you can never leave" the deed behind you. My favorite line for this song is "we haven't had that spirit here since 1969" I see that as he even forgets how long he's been coming to hotel California, and i see this as not the first trip or the last but a repeated offense or cycle that he cant get away from hence the anguish felt in the melodies. I guess if you wanted to take that story and substitute greed or excess of anything it would fit this song perfectly. So in essence i believe this song is about any sort of addiction, however I prefer the addiction to sex and women to other interpretations. However that's just me :)Jarret - Greensburg, Pa
I can dig that Rob, but maybe its just a sort of mis speak, and they mean to say I think this song is about?! whatever, I write as well, and if it means one thing to me, and something else to another person, it doesn't really matter. I write to inspire thought, not to give an opinion, or shed light on anything in particular. I applaud you for being willing to share, and I hope no one assumes they can think for someone else, only interpret what they felt when pondering the words.Keith - Centerport, Ny
Why is it that there are so many posts where people are like: "oh, it's so obvious what this song is REALLY about" or "this song is about ..." and then go on about something that may or may not even make sense? As if they are some way more of an authority than the people who wrote it. I think the song writers may know what it's really about and there are quotes from interviews right there to tell you what it's about. Then the more conspiratorial folks will say that the song writers are just saying that as a cover for the REAL meaning of the song. For God's sake, WHY? Especially 20 years after the fact. As a less-than-famous songwriter myself with some rather dark lyrics under my belt, I'm always happy to tell you exactly what my songs are about.Rob - Duluth, Ga
First, lets consider the title. H for heroin, and C for cocaine. Too many references to drug sub-cultures. People use drugs especially heroin (or Speedballs if they are hardcore) to escape, or for pleasure and comfort. to remember, or forget. But dope becomes a beast and we stab it with our needles, but it never goes away.At first, using dope is a great feeling and it makes everything awesome. But once it gets a hold of you, it becomes a beast. It could be heaven or it could be hell. You can check out (die) anytime you want. But you can never leave. Also, when you cop dope, it is often in abandoned buildings, lit up by just a shimmering light of candles (no electricity). with a candle she showed me the way, or "steered" him to the seller,and therer are voices down the corridor already copping their own bags. the rich suburban white girls with Merceded Benz cops drugs by manipulating pretty boys (possible refrence to the gay communuty, assumed to be drug users). He has to find the passage back, because he is strung out now, and wants to get back to the days when he was only drinking...But we haven't had that beverage here...well you get it...anyway, I sense alot of tourtured souls seeking independance via dope, but ending up as prisoners, of their own deviceKeith - Centerport, Ny
This song is about a guy who is driving at night and he's thinking about something. He's longing for something to fill him up. So he comes to a place. Let's say the Hotel California is like an symbol for something cheap and throwaway like fast food so what he is actually driving to is something like A Wendy's or a McDonalds. Reflecting our immersion in desire driven culture bent on self fulfillment at the expense of all values. When he gets there he's greeted like most people are at a drive thru window and the intercom comes on and she says 'Can I help you' and he orders let's say a whopper but this is a McDonald's now so he's getting a little confused and he's been drinking wine all night. He can't remember if this is Wendy's or McDonald's so it could be Heaven or it could be Hell. ( You be the judge of which is which here).
She tells him to just go to the window cause she can't figure out WHAT he's talking about. He's not sure of what she said to him now and doesn't drive even a foot and she hears the 'mission bell' of a new customer inside on her headpiece and he thinks he hears some people talking in the background saying 'Welcome to....' but it's actually only her again. To read more of my interpretation of this song just buy my new book entitled 'Crazy outlandish presumptions about classic songs'. Its probably the best book out there that attempts to interpret lyrics using a very literal and rigid set of guidelines that only adhere to one running thread of questionable logic.
Paul - Toronto, On
Anyone can look up images of the actual place google the lake norconian club and you will find a photo of the real hotel california which is now a prison you can check out but you can never leave.Chad - Corona, Ca
The song Hotel califonia is about a real place in norco ca. It was a place a resort type place in early 1900. for the rich and famous. but the place went on a decline so it was then converted to a hospital then it became a prison which is still there to this day. and a portion of it is the navel wepons facility. Thats why the song says you can check out but never leave the album cover has the actual photo of the place that i drive by on weekly bases dont read into the lyrics to much it just about goiny to prison and immaginning what used to go on in that place.Chad - Corona, Ca
I suppose this is the beauty of the song. It appears that it fits into anyones life circumstances. One of my psych patient's decribed his battle with Schizophrenia and the many trials of medication, that never fully "cured" his illness, with many of the lyrics of this song. Especially the lyric where "they stab it with their steely knife but they just can't kill the beast" (the hallucinations) and the psych institutions where "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave". . . (eventually prisoners are paroled or reach their max date). We haven't had that spirit here since 1969, would be a reference to the patients that arrived, stayed and died. Their spirits continue in a state of unrest there. That is why it is a classic song and will remain so forever.Sylvia - Utica, Ny
Anyone ever read No Exit by Jean Paul Sarte...similarities between the play and Hotel California? Check it out.Leigh - Knoxville, Tn
i agree with

"HOW I KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS? LMAO CUZZ MY MOM WAS LOCKED UP IN THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE...IT WAS A REAL PLACE...A HOTEL...A HOSPITAL..AND A WOMENS PRISON...The building now housing California Rehabilitation Center opened in 1928 as the Lake Norconian Club, a luxury hotel. In December 1941, President F. D. Roosevelt turned the resort into a Naval hospital. The hospital first closed in November 1949, reopened in 1950 during the Korean War, then closed again in June 1957. In March 1962, the federal government donated the facility to the state to use as a narcotics center. To help ease overcrowding in the 1980s, CRC began housing felons as well as civil narcotic addicts.
- MONDEAU, CHULA VISTA, CA"

refrences in the song that support this view are
-he was lead there by the warm smell of Colitas meaning "little buds" or marijuana
-saying that they havent had wine since 1969
but they have pink champagne which is a strain of Chrystal methamphetamine and is emphasized by saying that its on "ice" a common term for the drug which was a rampant problem in the san diego area after 1969 and continues to be today
-they are all prisoners of their own device
-stabbing the beast with their steely knives a reference to "slamming" or injecting narcotics to avoid withdrawal
-there is a night-man
-they are programed to recieve
Andrew - Ny, Ny
I remember when I was a kid the preacher at Church said Hotel California was a metaphor for hell because of the words: you can checkout any time you like but can never leave (hell being for eternity) & we haven't had that spirit here since 1969 (the year LaVey published the Satanic Bible) & you just can't kill the beast (ie Satan).
Just how "Her mind is tiffany-twisted, she got the mercedes bends" fits into hell though, I'm not quite sure...
Daniel - Melbourne, Australia
The double neck fender guitar that was used on the tour of 77 year, it's on Hard Rock Cafe in Universal City in Los Angeles,CA.Hector - Cd. Victoria, Mexico
I think that everybody could have a different interpretation of this song, while mine stands to be, him entering the drugs addictiveness, once he went into the hotel. Emphasizing that by saying you can never leave it, then saying you cant kill the addiction in the line, "We stabbed it with our steely knives, but we just cant kill the beast." Beast being the symbolism for drug addiction. Also at the beggining, light-headedness and dizziness are common side effects of many addictive drugs.Justin - Lousville, Ky
I believe this song was written about the Charles Manson-Sharon Tate murders. There are alot of similarities in the song and the murders. Sharon Tate was murdered in 1969. Manson and his followers were living in death valley at Barker ranch. Read about the murders and then read through the lyrics. There seems to be a similarities in the two.Dave - Lake Charles, La
I agree with those who think that the song is about the world of death.I think that "Hotel california"is a cemetary in witch everyone has a small grave(plenty of rooms at the hotel california),and it functions everyday without pause. The day is our life and the night is death.The biginning of the song is the moment between life and death.After that the speaker is comfessing his sins. At the end he realized that he cannot go back to life,he can think of what is coming after death but he can never leave(you can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave). Excuse me if I commited mistakes because I am not a native speaker.Said - Novara, Italy
Come on, this is an easy one. Hotel California = HC = High Cocaine. Just a trip and a warning - "You may check out, but you can't ever leave".Margareth - Natal, Brazil
Man,this is the best song ever,don't you all agree with me.THIS SONG ROCKSCameron - Irmo, Sc
Most people have no idea the song refers to the Church of Satan, which happens to be located in a converted HOTEL on California Street in San Francisco near 24th Avenue. I, too, was a sceptic. On the inside of the album cover, looking down on the festivities, is Anton LaVey (pictured to left), the founder of the Church of Satan and author of the Satanic Bible! People say, the Eagles aren't serious, they're just selling records. That's what you think! The Eagles manager, Larry Salter, admitted in the Waco Tribune-Herald, (Feb. 28, 1982) that the Eagles were involved with the Church of Satan! Not surprisingly, one of the Eagle's songs is titled "Have A Good Day in Hell."Don - San Francisco, Ca
I prefer the version with the latin arrangement. I think it was only recorded live at a concert, not a studio recording. The meaning of the music seems different every time I hear it.Mr Hill - Glendale, Az
The lyrics are soooo creepy I love itJd - Fairfield, Oh
HOW I KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS? LMAO CUZZ MY MOM WAS LOCKED UP IN THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE...IT WAS A REAL PLACE...A HOTEL...A HOSPITAL..AND A WOMENS PRISON...The building now housing California Rehabilitation Center opened in 1928 as the Lake Norconian Club, a luxury hotel. In December 1941, President F. D. Roosevelt turned the resort into a Naval hospital. The hospital first closed in November 1949, reopened in 1950 during the Korean War, then closed again in June 1957. In March 1962, the federal government donated the facility to the state to use as a narcotics center. To help ease overcrowding in the 1980s, CRC began housing felons as well as civil narcotic addicts.Mondeau - Chula Vista, Ca
they stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill the beast...sounds like a reference to some kind of drugMark - San Francisco, Ca
I wonder what the song was really about, though it does sound more like the wrong path taken that led to Hell. Sucks to be her.Mr. Know-it-all - Washington, Dc
Man, I thought the version I was told was far fetched. I heard that it was about a beautiful black lady that was in love and with a very attractive body (emphasis on her ASSets). There was trouble in paradise and now is going through a divorce so she started stripping and got swallowed by the world erotic dancing eventually bending over and taking it from guys that drove an expensive car (Mercedes Benz) tricking to make enough money for her lawyers and the lifestyle she couldn't escape. She became addicted to heroin got Herpes which she gave to some guy that ended up stabbing her to death. But it was too late he was infected because he had some 69 with her 19 times. I might of gotten some of those details a bit mixed up.Mr. Know-it-all - Washington, Dc
Mike from NJ, dude get real. This song is about the excesses of the lifestyle that the Eagles were into at the time. You have a wicked imagination,dude..Jim - Long Beach, Ca
You're ALL wrong. This song is NOT about drugs, sin, Satan, Mr. Ed, Jimmy Carters predilection towards unnatural sexual practices OR Parcheesi.

This is about Government Sponsored Health Care.

Hey!!! You're right!!! Whoever said you can interpret this song in a myriad of ways was correct. "You can check out any time you like, but you can't never leave!!!" Clearly, once the Government gets ahold of Healthcare, we'll NEVER be able to go back to a system (albeit flawed) that sorta worked, to a system that really won't work for ANYONE...unless of course, you're high up in the government or connected to those dopes.

The Eagles were more than 30 years ahead of their time.
Mike - Matawan, Nj
It is a twilight zone episode in which a young man finds himself in a paradisical hotel filled with all sinful goodies but discovers that for some reason he can never leave.Rod - Gainesville, Fl
This song is about the excess of the 70's LA rock N Roll lifestyle. Ritchie Fernandez, the Mexican/American road manager of the Eagles at the time use to call pot "colitas" which is the Spanish word for it. The gatefold picture of the LP is the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel. One of the best songs from one of the best albums of all-time. TIMELESS.Jim - Long Beach, Ca
its about heroine, never heard about a "steely knife" only steel, a needle is steely tho, the girl is a dealer who lites up a candle and shows him the way, either to cook or shoot, shes got alot of nice stuff as most dealers do, and you can "check out" you can die, but you cant leave, I think 96 percent is the statistic on heroin addicts that never leave heroin because of the one and only feeling only provided by H, its bout drugs, most songs are, deal with it. Think twiceIvan - Zagreb, Croatia
The song is clearly bout heroin, she lites up the candle, and shows him the way, either the way to cook or to shoot, iff you ever did heroin you would know its lovely and more or less there are voices calling heh, shes got a mercedes benz and expensive stuff as most dealers do, bring me my wine id think thay didnt expect any drinking "spirit". On heroin you swet alot, and iff you like it you could call it sweet sweat, some dance to remember some dance to forget I think thats pretty on target, as a cowards portal most heroin users have thayr own alabies, and oh the steely knives are clearly needles, never heard of a stealy knife maybe steel, you can never kill the beast, heroin is truly a beast and a pretty hungry one at that, he runs to escape but learns he can only "check out" as in die, but never leave, heroin addicts will forever miss the one and only feeling that is heroin provided, and 96%( I think the statistics say) are on it for life, so think twicek.. Sry for the interpunctions but im in a hurry, and I couldnt listen to theese explanations bout government conspiracy, its about heroin, big deal most of them are, and most artists are users, deal with it :)Ivan - Zagreb, Croatia
my husband david a guitarist played hotel california on his guitar before his death last year for me, always will this and tequila sunsrise will forever be our songs by the eagles

courtney san antonio tx
Courtney - San Antonio Tx, Tx
this is a complex song that can be interpreted differnetly. i think it really could be about drugaddiction as the lyrics "you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave" and "prisoners here of our own device" and "some dance to remember, some dance to forget" which would make sense for heroin as some people use it to escape their past and others use it to escape tehir present, however you do become trapped by addiction and become a prisioner to the drug and you have done it to yourself. and its like check out but never leave so it could either be that you can get clean but you will always be an 'addict' or you can shoot up and check out of your reality but you cant leave the scene. 'Hotel California' could have been like a drug house in California? im not sure but it would make sense, i also read another definition on here that it was about divorce which could also make sense? open to interpretation i suppose. but the era the song was written may also have something to do with it - it was the 70's and drugs and partying and fame fourtune all big factors of that time? either way a very good piece of music - a little eery though at times...Ny - Canberra, Australia
I don't really believe this song is about drugs or satan. I believe it's just what the lyrics are about. About a man who stops for the night and stays at a hotel which I guess is something like a haunted house in a way because he hears voices, and then he realizes he is trapped in this otherworld and can't get out basically, because he's become a part of their world, and they don't want to let him go. I do think there are some drug connotations in the song, but I don't analyze the lyrics too much, because I don't like to read too much into things. Besides, I think some things are better left unsaid, just like the hall and oates song of the same name.Jared - Salt Lake City, Ut
I always thought the song was about a guy trying to escape from some bad home situation and being turned into a vampire. LOL I guess it just depends on the person.Ashley - Phx, Az
The song is about a group of guys who go to Gay bathhouse. Lyrics suggest it:
She's got lots of pretty pretty boys she calls friends..Gays are often thought of as friends by girls.
How they dance in the court yard, sweet summer sweat...Many gays danced at tea party's in the 80's.
Relax said the night man we are programmed to receive, many gays crave as as in a sexual act to recieve rather the give.
How they gathered for the feast..usually in gay bathhouse there was AN ORGY ROOM.
Mark - Wilmington, Il
Chris in buckeye land, they close with desparodo on the long road out of eden tour saw it in JanuaryChase - Miami, Fl
It gives you "in the small hours" vibe that was hovering around the L.A. Canyons at that time.....nice and mellow - If it wasn't for Crosby, Stills and nash.........Darren - Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom
FOR EVERYONE AND EVERY SONG ON THIS SITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just so you know, a song can mean ANYTHING YOU WANT IT TO!!!
Who gives a damn what the writer says? It's like the picture with two faces kissing or a vase. If you WANT it to be about drugs, it's about drugs. If you WANT it to be about sex, it's about sex. Hell, it can even be about FACEBOOK!!! So in the end, when you get right down to it, the song is whatever the listener wants it to be.
Alan - Rock!!!!!!!!!!!, Tx
On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in my hair
The warm smell of colitas
Rising up through the air(driving felling bomb smokin a little bud)
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(first time trying heroin he desides to keep doing it for a little bitt)

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(girl showd him on to it,he wasnt sure if he should or not)
There were voices down the corridor
I thought I heard them say

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place, such a lovely face
There's plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year, you can find it here

Her mind is definitely twisted
She's got her Mercedes Benz
She's got a lotta pretty, pretty boys
That she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard
Sweet summer sweat
Some dance to remember
Some dance to forget(she loves material items,shes got some other guys hooked,how they trip in the court yard.Some use it to remember the past, others use it to forget the past...)

So I called up the captain(The dealer)
Please bring me my wine(hes asking for some bud.)
He said "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969"(nobodey is doing that any more)
And still those voices they're calling from far away
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say(Shakes,cant live with out it)

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place, such a lovely face
They're livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise, bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceilling, the pink champaign on ice
And she said "We are all just prisoners here of our own device"(self explanatory...)
In the masters chambers they're gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knifes but they just can't kill the beast(they shoot up but the addiction is makeing them want more and more..)

Last thing I remember, I was runnin' for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before(He comes to his scenes)
"Relax " said the night man "We are programmed to receive
You can check out anyytime you like, but you can never leave" Thats f--ked up...)

austin dotson
READ!
Austin - Bakersfield, Ca
I love this song. It is one of the greatest songs ever written!!!Ia - San Francisco, California, Pa
Whoever K is I live in the same city as you. And about that question before lyric thing- thats how lyric writing should be you make a idea then ask questions and answer them in verse with a tune, get me?Chase - Miami, Fl
wait russell you know Joe Walsh!!?? Thats awesome he is one of the greatest ever!Chase - Miami, Fl
Joe Walsh DID play on the Hotel California album contrary to what someone else said here. In addition to song writting credits (he wrote that cool riff that opens Life in the Fast Lane) he also plays guitar through-out - including on the song Hotel California where he trades riffs with Felder. I asked him and he confirmed it.Russell - Corona, Ca
It's about the Americain Dream. The main char is the immigrants from all over the world, to the Industrial empire United States. They established the industry for freedom, for independent from the others of Western World, but that industry just come back and arrest them. Because of that, the newcomers can "checkout" (repay for the US by their working) but "can't leave" (their benefits are decided by the industry). So they "just prisonners here of our own device". The masters are capitalists, and the beast is US government. The capitalists try to kill and manipulate the US government "stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill the beast".Arist - Dalat, Viet Nam
This song reminds me of some story where a man sees ghosts, like some horror movie.
Especially the line about never leaving.
Jd - Fairfield, Oh
lol...exactly mate...both hotel california n stairway to heaven creep me out.... perhaps the best known rock songs in history..... there's an eerie feel on this one..... n maybe its cause of all the controversies regarding the satanism....hmmm....anyway both of m are amazing...i jus can't complain....Rahul - Chennai, India
Honestly, this song just creeps me out. I don't know if this makes sense, but it has a sort of deserty feel to it, and I hate the heat.Emily - Around Chicago, Il
i belive it is just about dieing ( i saw shimmring light ) and this boy was the passage of the girl that she had 2 take 4 the room and at the end of the song they say (i had 2 find the passege 2 the room i was befor )these time it was the passase2 the boy ( we are programmed 2 recieve )and the man told him 2 relax and dont worry thier work is 2 resive people and dead spirits so he will he worry and these voises are just spirits in there but i cant explain the last part ecxept they cant get back and leave (they live at the hotel california ) but i still cant under stand the pert of the beast !!Gehenna - Cairo, Egypt
This song is about the California lifestyle and how you can get sucked into it. The '70's were an interesting time in California. The protests and acid of the '60's were pretty much gone, the coke and narcissism of the '80's hadn't started yet. But the music business, and California itself, can be very hard to get away from. The weather, the beaches, the people (who are there for so very many different reasons), and the way of doing business. Even the food. I didn't realize until after I moved out of the state, that for 30 years I never ate any bread but sourdough! It's much harder to find elsewhere, especially on the east coast. California is just different and it's really easy to get sucked into the underbelly.Terri - Long Beach, Wa
Don Felder did all the guitar solos on this song. it was after hotel california(entire album) that joe walsh played lead guitar for the eaglesBilly - Jeromesville, Oh
is it true that the picture of anton levey can be seen on the album cover of Hotel California?Raymond - Springdale, Ar
It's about a trip to the afterlife... You can always die, but you'll never go back. Listen to the lyrics carefully and you'll see what I mean. Still a great song though.Peter - Los Angeles, Ca
Just wondering: In the "Rough Guide" book on Pink Floyd, the writer makes the claim that the opening acoustic guitar progression was influenced by PF's "Wish You Were Here." Anyone have any more details on that? Personally, I wouldn't have thought so...Jude - Baltimore, Md
This song should be inside meJason - Glen Rock, Nj
i think this songs about drugs cause he says This could be heaven this could be hell--and also-You can check out but you can never leaveBryan - Fayetteville, Nc
i think this song is about drugs because it says "You can check out any time you like but you can never leave."Alex - Chicago, Il
More about Hotel California (too much to quote) is on http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/hotel.asp .Nico - Amstelveen, Netherlands
This is a wonderful song, and I am glad it has stood the test of time and is still being talked about even today.Adam - Shen, Ia
This is a wonderful song, and I am glad it has stood the test of time and is still being talked about even today.Adam - Shen, Ia
This song has been beautifully and naturally put together for all to enjoy. My thanks to the
Eagles for sharing with me their artistic talents. Snow
Snow - Sierra Foothills, Ca
I thought that this song was about disco. That's just my opinion...Elsa - Los Angeles, Ca
The one fact I do know is that this song was penned in 1977 (perhaps earlier but released in 77) and we are discussing it and debating it and dissecting it 32 years later. To me that is a testament to the power of this song.Cindy - Florida, Fl
Two 80s r&b acts covered this song: Rene and Angela (of "I'll Be Good", "Your Smile" and "You Don't Have To Cry" fame) and sex symbol Al B Sure ("Nite and Day").John - Nashville, Tn
All I have to say is the Church of Satan started in a Hotel in California in 1969. Look it up!Keaton - Houston, Tx
And it has that overall mornful futility and that "I wanna go home, mommy" attitude about it. Rehab alright!G. - Newport News, Va
sounds a lot like a description of a rehab clinic. Small buds smelled, can't leave, can't kill the beast, etc.G. - Newport News, Va
It's a very popular song even in China, you may be surprised that this song has a Chinese translation version.Chinese Translator - Beijing, China
screw that this song is about a girl fighting drug addiction
"but they just cant kill the beast" translate meaning "they just cant break their addiction"
"you can check in any time you like but you can never leave" translate "once you try drugs you cant quit" come on it's common sense
Kane - Wytheville, Va
Did anyone ever hear of the lyric questions that you can ask before each line in the song? Ex:
Question: Where were you?
Line: On a dark desert highway
Q: Whatcha smell?
L: Warm smell of colitas
Q: Whatcha see?
L: I saw a shimmering light
Q: Whatcha do?
L: I had to stop for the night
Q: Where'd she stand?
L: There she stood in the doorway
Q: Whatcha hear?
L: I heard the mission bells
And you get the idea...it goes thru the entire song like this. I saw the whole thing printed out once about 20 years ago and haven't seen it since. Would love to find this...Thx, Teresa :-)
Teresa - Brooklyn, Ny
Hi. Suprisingly, I didn't see it mentioned here but I heard this song was about a drug program in California (Synanon) that turned into a cult. Supposedly, once you checked in you can never check out.Teresa - Brooklyn, Ny
Not much to say about Hotel California except it's one of the greatest songs ever written and of all time.K - Miami, Fl
awesome song.... i first heard on holiday in Phuket. the eagles wrote the song about the excess of life in l.a. but wenever i hear it it takes me back to sitting in an outdoor resteraunt on patong beach listening to a live bannd do a exact remake of the song.Ricky - Melbourne, Australia
seeing the eagles in columbus on march 29th at the Schott, I'm hoping they close with this songChris - Columbus Aka "buckeye Nation", Oh
Hotel California is simply one of the all time greatest if not the greatest song ever written both lyrically and musically arranged. As a guitarist myself I can appreciate the collective efforts put in by all the members of The Eagles. As for the lyrics, I can accept what Don Henley said that it's about the Dark under-belly of Fame and success..ie about materialistic women, broken marriages, painful-divorces, drug addictions and the way of life that we chose to inflict ourselves.. The only comment I would like to add is, I am very sad that Don Henley and Glen Frey decided to sack Don Felder after 30 years. "Hotel California" just wouldn't be the same without Joe Walsh and Don Felder (together) belting it out their riffs on their guitars, either the original or accoustic versions.Jet - Kota Kinabalu, Sabah., Malaysia
Many think this song is about a "place" where you can go but can never leave hint the last line. It's almost eerie,the way its sung like they were there and experienced it. I hope they play it in columbus on March 29th.. I'm going to the showChris - Columbus Aka "buckeye Nation", Oh
no people...it's about a guy stuck in a hotel...that's pretty much it.Liz - Smallville, Ks
It's obviously about pure evil - worshipping Satan and eating babies.

Ooops, hang on, I just slipped in born-again bible-basher mode. [click] ... and back to normal now ...

Having just read Don Felder's book "Heaven and Hell", I must agree with Frey's explanation that the song is about the dark under-belly of LA. So many people are quick to assume it's about heroin but like so many succesful bands of the time, they were into cocaine.

BTW, I think the "Mercedes bends" refers to the light-headedness of the Hollywood lifestyle at the time ... as in the decompression sickness that divers get when resurfacing too quickly.

It is also one of the most over-dubbed pieces of studio production at the time, with folklore suggesting 8 or more guitar tracks.

PS I think it's a masterpiece!
Scared_of_girls - Melbourne, Australia
It's about a guy who gets stuck in a hotel and can't get out. and the building on the cover is the Beverly Hills Hotel. Wow it's gorgeous. I love Don Henley's voice by the wayLiz - Smallville, Ks
The song is heard every nook and corner of this globe.Visnu - Bangalore, India
I used to be scared of this song...i know weirdo haNady - Adelaide, Australia
Come on people...Camarillo state mental hospital? The picture on the album cover is the Beverly Hills Hotel. Look it up on the web. It takes two seconds.John - Washington, Dc
I love this song because it's really not about anything. They probably felt like being random. It's basically a movie about some random guy.Liz - Smallville, Ks
the character of the music seems to have smoked his last and was based delirious, having hallucinations showing a dead end! ... then I think at times very important that I spent in my life that will not come back ...
the more that the lyrics to say is that the same drugs is a dead end!
Luna Aister Campos - Goiânia, Brazil
I think he is alive because he feel in this part of song: "cool wind in my hair/Warm smell of colitas". just it :p.....so I'm a brazilian and don't speak english very well......this is just a class work ......
Be HAPPY!
Hikari - Gyn, Brazil
well, the song is really great. i think that he's dead, because in the song, he says: 'last thing i remember, i was running for the door..' so, after that, he dies in the hotel california, and he becames a spirit. the song talk about a lot of thinks like: girls for example. you really have to listen this song, is the best of ever!Bárbara - Goiânia, Brazil
I think he is alive because he feel in this part of song: "cool wind in my hair/Warm smell of colitas". just it :p.....so I'm a brazilian and don't speak english very well......this is just a class work ......
Be HAPPY!
Hikari - Gyn, Brazil
I just found out what the meaning of this song is from the writer himself telling it. Before that I belived this song was about an acid trip, this of course made up myself. the reason I say this is because every time before we would start to trip we would smoke hints "colitas rising up in the air". then hotel california was the trip itself. but for me not only was it about a trip but a bad trip at that hinting the lyric "you can checkout anytime you like, but you can lever leave". Im not going through the whole song but for anyone that knows what Im talkin about just sit back listen to the song and imagine the trip you'll see what im talkin aboutChase - Chatt Town, Tn
Man, some people just want to see Satan everywhere! Really, leave him be! Dude, why is this site's logo a fish?Sibella - Pretoria, South Africa
First off Ashley that is supposed to be stairway to heaven backwards not hotel california dumbass. If you play the song backwards when he says and they wake you up in the middle night just to hear them say. You are supposed to hear satan had me believe in him. But i think thats total bull. Great song with an amazing guitar soloJeffery - Myrtle Beach, Sc
Well, I've always been convinced this song is about being sentenced to Camarillo State mental hospital.
The album cover photo was taken there. Back in the 80's I took the album there and put it up to the site where it was taken and it was indeed not just similar, but actually THE place. Listen to the lyrics and you will see it's about being institutionalized in a mental hospital. No doubt about it.
Daniel Kinberg - Newbury Park, Ca
Why are all of you arguing about what this song mean? Please refer to this posted statement from Henley himself, "On November 25, 2007 Henley appeared on the TV news show 60 Minutes, where he was told, "everyone wants to know what this song means." Henley replied: 'I know, it's so boring. It's a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America which was something we knew about.'" Granted, this song is so ambiguous that it fits just about any definition you choose. But remember: that is what YOU say it means. That doesn't mean you're right, it's just how you interpret it. Quit telling everybody and their mother how right you are and how wrong they are, when all you're offering is your opinion. Your opinion's are fascinating, don't get me wrong, but don't go around insulting everybody just because they had a different idea than you did. The song "means" what Henley said it "means". Sorry, but that's as deep as they made it. Go ahead and add your own versions, but remember that you are the one that came up with it. Not Henley or any other member of the Eagles for that matter. Capiche?Mary - Oakridge, Or
I don't really care about the lyrics and what they mean. The music and guitar playing and the whole arrangement is just wonderful. The acoustic arrangement is one of the best songs ever recorded. To hear a hard rocker like Joe walsh and the rest of those great musicians playing it, makes it worth listening to everyday, and I do. I've never gotten tired of it and I listen to the passages over and over. What a fabulous songDon Piccolo - Denver, Co
For me the best song ever written. The song tells about drug addiction, "you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave".Cars - Cebu, Philippines
I wrote an article about the myth that the song referred to the hotel in Todos Santos, Baja. It was printed in several publications, here's one link, along with a scan of a fax I received from Don Henley.

http://www.todossantos-baja.com/todos-santos/eagles/hotel-where.htm
Joe - Bangkok, Thailand
I lived in scottsbluff,ne. for 5yrs.when i was married.Remember scottsbluff is where randy meisner is from. his son [dana] lived outside of scottsbluff,and i used to hang out with him quite a bit. The line "her mind is tiffany twisted" is refering to randy's [dana's mom]ex-wife. Randy had a 5 story strip shopping cener of sorts built in scottsbluff[its called "randall square"]guess who got it in the divorce.At least she left the name as "randall square"Tim - Houston, Tx
I'm not sure what the song is about actually. There are so many theories and all so I will just say it ranks up there with some of the greatest songs in the world.Joel - Columbia, Md
This song is about a group of musicians who got together and wrote a decent song with obscure lyrics. Lucky for them the lyrics have baffled idiots long enough for them to still live off the song.

Sheep.
Bmn - Hisuan, Argentina
Yes Anna, I heard the message. It says, "Hey kids, this is TV's Don Henley! Please throw this record in the trash before it's too late! Prolonged exposure to our crappy music can cause premature baldness and Hepatitus B!"Julius Von Brunk - Lancaster, Pa
This song has a message in it when you listen 2 it backwards. Has any 1 heard it??????Anna - Myrtle Beach, Sc
I think the line "since 1969" is referring to the Manson murders and/or the Altamont Festival. Suggesting that is the point in time when things went horribly wrong in California, and it has never recovered. "Mercedes Bends" is a reference to decompression sickness, also known as "the bends".John - Washington, Dc
this song means more on drug addiction."you can check out anytime you like' but you can never leave" you are now addicted, and find yourself craving...Cars - Cebu, Philippines
For years I've loved the song Hotel California and many of those years I had little idea what the song was about. I've had dozens of people give their interpretations on the lyrics but none of them really satisfied me upon listening to the song again. Now I haven't read all the comments here, but I did read a good amount and from what I see, the arguments are there but no one has really hit the nail on the head yet. Through all the radical interpretations, and some research of my own I've put together a relatively simple idea of what this song is about that includes all the lyrics, not like some who pull a line or two out that they can fit into their argument and run with it without taking into account the several lines that confuse or disprove their idea. Look at the big picture. Hotel California is a comparison of those caught up in fame and fortune to the practice of Satanism. It focuses on one man's journey into the world of "Hollywood" (though this materialistic lifestyle can be seen on many levels in many places) It touches on the motif that nothing is truly as it seems. The song begins with a man driving down a dark highway, though it sounds cliche this road is the road of life. It is dark because of this man really has nothing in his life that brings him happiness, thus making him vulnerable to temptation, often the desperate tend not to look deeply into things that appear to be good until it is too late. He begins to notice the smell of marijuana and sees the lights of LA. Again, those in the dark typically do not question the origin of light. "My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim" The man is beginning to grow weary of his journey and again doesn't question where he is as this is the first place he sees on the road. "Heard the mission bell" means he has arrived in California. In reference to the bells placed on the highway in front of the 21 Franciscan Mission on the El Camino Real created between 1769 and 1823. The man finding himself in such a sparkling magnificant place thinks that it could be too good to be true. "Then she lit up a candle" a drug reference pulling him into the world of addiction. Now, the comparison of the rich and famous to Satanism can only be seen in the fundamental teachings of Satanism. Satanism teaches indulgence. They believe there is no afterlife therefore all pleasures and experiences must be obtained in our life on earth, refering to sexual promiscuity, drug use and materialism. They ultimately believe that you are your own God. Knowing this you can certainly see that alot of people in the modern day are living a similar life in LA or elsewhere. "Her mind is Tiffany-twisted" is an obvious metaphor for materialism but the Eagles' play on the brand name "Mercades Bends" is subtler as "bends" is defined as "to cause to turn from a straight course" meaning that money and fame can turn someone away from morals and ideals. At this point the man is desperately looking for some sign of the "place he knew before" and calls for wine. When the man replies "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969" He's refering to the Holy Spirit as the Satanic Bible was completed in 1969 by Anton LeVay in his house on 6114 California Street. The song continues with the "voices" either those who have already succumb to the lifestyle or the temptations in his head to give up and stay. Suggesting to "bring your alibis" or to stay and be whoever you want to be, but not necessarily yourself. The imagery of the feast is commonly used in the book of Ecclesiastes by a man who quite similarly had it all but still did not find fulfillment. Once again the drug reference is in the "steely knives" or needles but their hunger for more, their addiction (the beast) is not quenched. Once he realizes the despair in these people's lives he determines that this place quite possibly could be "hell" The phrase "you can checkout any time you like" is a reference to the high or trip that one feels when using drugs to numb one's true pain and run away from the moral dilema that many of these people refuse to face. The woman's comment "we are all just prisoners here of our own device" is quite close to the cliche phrase of most addicts "I can quit whenever I want" This song obviously holds true to the band as they didn't show up to recieve their 1977 Grammy for the song as Don Henley didn't believe in contests. The song requires a lengthy look at the lyrics to come to a meaning. Though this may seem way too incredibly long, three lined meanings are ridiculously too short.Anonymous
this song gives me goosebumps evrytime i hear it and not for its spookiness setup or anything but simply becoz sometimes u get goosebumps in awe and this song does thatZubin - Mumbai, India
My vision of hell involves this song being played at maximum volume on a constant loop. I would be thankful if the Federal government waged a genocide on all albums containing Hotel California.Julius Von Brunk - Lancaster, Pa
Again...THIS SONG IS ABOUT HOLLYWOOD. If you get hung up about some of the undertones of the song, remember that it had not been that long since the Manson murders (in 1969), which may well have been what they were referring to in parts of the song. The whole theme is the dark underbelly of a superficially attractive place--i.e. Hollywood.John - Washington, Dc
TRUE STORY!
I can't tell you what the writer intended for this Song; but I can tell you from my own experience what I believe the song to be about. When I was 16 years old I was severely depressed and attempted suicide. When the privately owned hospital I was first sent to could not help me they sent me to Camarillo. This was in 1989 and the hospital has since closed down so I can see why kids who go out there for a spooky time would have to walk about a mile to get to the
actual hospital grounds. Here is my interpretation of the lyrics based on my experiences from beginning to end...

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
(I was taken to Camarillo via ambulance and to get there you had to drive down a deserted highway with a strong smell from the plant life that surrounded you from all directions. I later learned that this was ideal for the
hospital staff because they would warn of all the animals that would likely kill us before we got to the city if we tried to escape the hospital.)
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
(The paramedic gave me an injection of some sort of sedative just prior to arriving at the hospital so that I would be easier to examine and question for the intake process. This of course caused heavy headedness and dimming vision.)
There she stood in the doorway; (there was a female nurse to do the intake)
I heard the mission bell (I was told the hospital use to be a mission and there were indeed bells that rang out)
And I was thinking to myself,
'This could be Heaven or this could be Hell'
(I thought the same thing. I was told that this hospital was going to be able to take the pain of the depression away from me but at the same time it was daunting, scary and overwhelming and I felt trapped)
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...
(There were several different buildings that housed thousands of different patients ranging from the mental depression like mine to the criminally insane that had murdered people and
as I was taken to my building I heard people murmuring and chanting all along. When she brought me to the ward I was to spend the next 8 months at I was again asked lots of questions
by the staff and there were certainly voices down the corridor, some welcoming, some shrieking warnings to run while I still
could.)

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes-Benz
(My mind was certainly twisted and as for the Mercedes-benz, when you are new you are the cream of the crop, everyone wants to know your story and they want to be close to you)
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends
(again, all the boys want to know who the new girl is)
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
(We had dances in the courtyard at least once a month and it was always warm like summertime)
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
(obviously some wanted to remember how they were before they lost their minds, others wanted to forget what they had done to get them here to this place)

So I called up the Captain,
(The head nurse was usually referred to as shift Captain)
'Please bring me my wine'
He said, 'We haven't had that spirit here
Since nineteen sixty nine'
(This part I have only heard about, but I was told that the patients would be given wine to help them sleep at night up until 1969)
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...
(If it weren't the voices that some of them heard in their own heads it was the voices from the other units where patients seemed to never stop screaming or chanting)

Mirrors on the ceiling,
(There was a room where we were taken if we
acted out and became an immediate danger to
ourselves or others, it had a mirror that was really a two way mirror they used to observe us while in the room)
The pink champagne on ice
And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device
(Each patient had their own "device" or disease, diagnosis)
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
The stab it with their steely knives
But they just can't kill the beast
(This reminds me again of the room we were taken to when acting out, we were strapped to a bed and shot up with thorazine to calm us down. They 'stabbed' us with the needle (steely knife)
to inject the thorazine, but it was always temporary. For some, no drug or therapy ever 'killed the beast' of mental illness.)

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
(It came to a point where I just wanted to be back in the private owned hospital or even back at home with my demons but it wasn't to be)
'Relax,' said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
but you can never leave!
(I was lucky, but the majority of patients at
Camarillo State Hospital truly could never leave)
Camarillograduate - Orange County, Ca
Why is it when a band comes up with a kick ass song, all the religious freaks come out of the woodwork to talk about Satan. Lots of people besides the band members themselves work on recordings, and someone other than a band member could easily add something to a recording, especially if it's backwards!Dale - Erie, Pa
This is so incredibly dumb. The song is called HOTEL CALIFORNIA. The picture on the front of the album is the BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL. It is about HOLLYWOOD. Period. Listen to the rest of the album if you don't get it yet. "Life in the Fast Lane", "New Kid in Town". It's all about Hollywood and the entertainment industry.John - Washington, Dc
One of the greatest songs ever written and a favorite of mine.Amber - San Francisco, Ca
I grew up listening to music of the past. My father and mother listened to a variety of music. The Eagles came up quite a bit as my parents liked them. We had the album and we also had a reel to reel. My fathers cousin is a pastor in Ga. and he played the reel to reel backwards for us. Guess what we found. When you play it backwards the song clear as a day says " Satan my sweet satan your path makes me sad. 666" Now i know the band clamis that this is simply not true and that the song is about the dark side of fame but give me a break. Also why if the album cover on Hotel California they hired extras why is it the "lady" that is above everyone else clearly blurry. When you can see everyone else perfect. Professional photograpghers took the picture. Why was the image blurry? If it was done on purpose was it to cause confusion? Which it surely has. As we all know satan is the master of confusion. Go figure.Ashley - Anywhere, Al
I know that this is completely different from previous comments, but I personally think that this song means that when he is driving or whatever that he crashes and the light he sees is heaven. The 'hotel' symbolises heavens palace. When he goes in he find that it is paradise but you can never leave heaven once you are in...I don't know, call me crazy but that's just what i think...Kevin - Pooptown, Bermuda
It is one of the most powerful songs ever made by a band who is Just as GREAT! Weird enough my dad used to play me this song when i was little to calm me down and it worked so now when i want to relax i listen to this song! So agian i'm going to say it's an AWSOME SONG!!!Natascha - Johanesburg, South Africa
I think this song is about drugs and how u can never escape an addiction i just dont understand why they exaggerate so much with metaphors . cant the eagles just tell us what they meant maybe it was their purpose for it to never be understood and it really means nothing ha ha. anyways i think there are a lot more good songs and we shouldn´t concentrate on only one if we are not losersDavid - Tel Aviv, Israel
this is the only real meaning that
THE ILLUMINATI are keeping away from you with false information:
In order to understand this song you need to be aware of certain things. you have to know that the world is run by royal family´s since we started this game of life. U see we created this world for our consciousness to play in and we let ourselves forget that this life is just tricking god into believing that it is just a mortal human. The royal family sadly knows this truth since the Roman times and have been keeping it away from us (the peasants) ever since. They want us to worship them and their corrupt popes.
anyway the song is full of metaphors and i´m not gonna translate them word by word for u. i´m just gonna put u on the right direction.
The song is basically saying that our consciousness is in big trouble because we cannot just stop the game of life, cause there´s no god except us. and because of royal familys greed this life is a virtual prison for our consciousness. u see money is just a tool to make others follow YOUR WILL and the ones with the money (the 'royals' ) own ALL the money thus all the will
that´s why there are so many williams in the 'royal' family WILL.I.AM.
they call themselfes royals with BLUE BLOOD but their blood is no more blue then HANNIBAL LECTERS.
Me - Bermuda
hehe. it is a myth that this song is about the old Camirillo State Mental Hospital (which they converted it into Channel Islands State University)Jeremy - Ventura, Ca
Here is the modern deal. These guys earned their place in rock in roll. Unlike the studio popsicle sticks that line the walls today, these MFs grew their hair during passage. In a way, its a trophy mark of the day. If you had monster hair and you were a musician that made it, you paid your dues. What happened ? Who are all these corporate piles of sht they are throwing at the kids these days. I am embarrased that my kids may not be able to distinguish talent from volume play.Edal - Baltimore, Md
I find it's humorous how everyone is so certain they know the true meaning of this song. Obviously the song does have a deep meaning, due to the fact people do not write without any insperation.

Jack Green from HI, "I would have to disagree with your statment: . But I dont mean to say your idea is bad; it is, actually, metaphorically brilliant, but I dont thihnk the Eagles could have realistically written anything like that." They did. This song, take it as you want, is full of only that: metaphors.

Though I do not exactly know what the song is about: hell, drugs, sex addiction, car crashes, or an actual place, I do know that no one knows for sure but the ones who wrote it.

It would be amazing if they did, but look, years later this song is still one of the greatest rock songs of all times. I am only eighteen years old, and I must say that it is my favorite.

Hotel California is full of mystery, and when you hear this song, you get lost within the words, and that is what good music is all about. Making you strive to be there, to see what they see, you get high within the talent of just ordinary men rocking out. You strive to be in their minds for just one moment.
Courtney - Sebring, Fl
Think about this: I believe the song is about a different "version" of hell. Hell supposedly lasts for eternity, and at first, the singer believes this place to be great, and then realizes that he can't leave, and his heaven turns into hell.Michael - Tucson, Az
Whatever the songs "real" meaning, I have always pictured a somewhat mystical horror movie in my mind since I was a child upon listening to it ... very cool when a song can bring image clarity to your mind and soul. Also, definitely subliminal content in it ... my brain keeps telling me to play it over, and over, and over, and over ... bah, maybe it's because it's an awesome song that had so much impact on my younger years. ;)Scott - West Palm Beach, Fl
Hi, after reading all those interesting Opinions,
I totally agree on the addiction Story. it could not be clearer.But how nice this Song is, it reminds you so much of the sad fact, taht indeed, you can check out anytime, but you can never leave...and sometimes you want to dance to remember....
Ben - Windhoek, Namibia
TO andrew, birmingham, United States

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Although I still do believe their meaning to the song.
But I Am totally with you on your message!
God is the answer and the key to our salvation. Without him, I'd be lost. I'd have no purpose.
I am so grateful I have him in my life...
Rocio - Canberra , Australia
Good song but it just isn't fair that they copied song from Jethro Tull and changed it little bit and then it became one of the worlds best songs.Fgh - Fgh, Azerbaijan
as an eagles fan it was always my belief that this song was always about a whore house. listen to the lyrics and you can relate.Kevster - Wales, Laos
Hey Junk maybe the song is about one certain thing but some people like to use our imagination and think about other things the author may have incorporated. If You don't like it then shut up and don't come to an open forum where you know people will post their own opinions.Zachary - Staten Island, Ny
I think that this song is about hell or purgatory. However I have heard many people say that the highway and drug reference point to a car crash that ended with him in hell. I believe that the highway is figurative for a life of bad choices such as drugs (colitas), and that he kills himself and that is why he ends up in hell.Zachary - Staten Island, Ny
I heard that this song is about the time Don henley spend in a rehab facility in Norco. Which is not the Norco Prision. I know a guard that works there and the picture on the front of the album is the front of the prision. Hard to dispute this one!!!Michelle - Riverside, Ca
Gotta go with Ekristah, hallah, US and his version although I actually do like the song.
Not only was it brilliant metaphorically and lyrically, but the chord progression is frightening in the way that it holds the listener, particularly the outro solo as both players trace the arpeggios and cycle them into eternity. I first heard the song as a child and it still haunts me, to the point that I had to learn how to play it in the belief that if I understood what was happening in terms of musical theory, it would free me from the emotional free-associations happening whenever the song played. It didn't work.
Daddy Cool - Atlanta, Ga
many people have told me many different meanings of this song. but i personally feel as if this song is about the inner beast. no matter how bad you want to be good, or change you life, theres always something inside of you that wants to do wrong, and go against people. "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave"... you can be a good person, but the beast within you will always return.Hannah - Gainesville, Tx
It's funny that Don Henley said that there were some wilder interpretations of this song. Well for many years I thought it was about a person(guy) who was living the wild high life and always was in this particular hotel and somehow died and he was in "purgatory" and it happened to be called "Hotel California" and he didn't was dead and was trying to go back home or leave "the place" I guess, and when he says, "I was thinking to myslef, this can be Heaven or this can be Hell", then he was greeted by a woman and she lit a candle and show him the way, as he pass through the "CORRIDOR" and he heard voices saying welcome to the "Hotel California, such a lovely place???and plenty of room. it seems that this guy partied hard, sex, drug, etc. and did things that weren't so rightous and as he died, and wen to the "Master's chambers" (the Devil's pit in so many words) and they can't kill the "Beast"..and he saw women and some people that he partied and did things with who were also dead and went to the same place where he is and he was seeing all of these devilis things that people were doing, like greed and people laughing at him and scared him so much and that when in another lyric he says he was running for the door, he had to find a passage back to the place he was before and he was told you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave. I'm sorry to me it sounds like the guy is dead and in limbo at this hotel and he is seeing every bad thing he did before his eyes.... That was my thought for many years and now its hard for me to think otherwise....LOLMiguel - New York, Ny
I'm sure this has been mentioned previously, but the song tells the tale of an odd night certain members of The Eagles experienced while out partying in San Francisco.

This led to this, and that led to the that, and they ended up at the Church of Satan just in time to watch a ceremony among its members. They mingled with the church parishoners, got to know them and what they were about, and witnessed a beast sacrifice.

The Church of Satan preaches excessive living, enjoy yourself, pleasure yourself, do what makes you happy and don't feel guilty about it: The American Dream.

The Hotel California
Nubosa - Houston, Tx
I freaking love this song. I can tottaly see this in my head. I see this guy around some people telling the story and then you can see like whats happening. Never mind you have to see it like me to undrstand it.Bianca Sanchez - Alburquerque, Nm
i just don't understand what is wrong with people & i'm sure that all the members of the "eagles" have just grown so tired about answering all these ridiculous questions regarding the meaning of "hotel california" - at this point in time i'm sure that they probably wished they never even did the song with all the nonsense surrounding it, but i'll tell you what if this song has so much mystique behind it how about "led zeppelin's" "stairway to heaven"? can anyone explain away the lyrics to this song? please........ songs like this take on so many different meanings of it's own, with so many different interpretations, it's mind boggling to hear so many different meanings of this song from so many people... in the end i'm sure the band members interpretations of this song is the correct one... putting aside all grandiose or self indulged opinions... thank you very much...Tommy - New York City, Ny
dude this song is freaken amazing . i bow down to the eagles .i think this song is about drug abuse but i could b rong some of mt friends think its about a whore house but what ev this song rocks out loud and thats all that mattersAlex - Alaska, Al
Oi try the accoustical version of this song. An accoustical masterpiece.Dan - Mexico, Mo
I can't say enough wonderful things about this song! I absolutely love it! The lyrics are so poetic and haunting and the music is breathtaking! The Eagles are one of my favorite bands ever! They are one of the best of all time and always will be! I'm an Eagles fan forever!Meredith - Wauwatosa, Wi
November 25, 2007 on CBS 60 minute interview Don Henley was told "everyone wants to know what this song means". "I know,it's so boring". Henley replied. "It's a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America which was something we knew about".Emma - Westfield, Me
IMO, suggests re-incarnation with the line, "You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.". The entire song seems to be about the inevitability of the birth/death cycle and the dance we do around it.Ado - Jenison, Mi
Eight months to work on this song? Some of the greatest rock and roll songs of all times have been written in less than twenty minutes. If they are going to beat themselves up for a song for eight months, making it perfect, then you have to believe that each word of the song has meaning. There's a lot more going on with this song than they have let onto thus far. I just love the speculation of the meaning of this song! So many different theories.Steve - Chino Hills, Ca
"Youn can check out anytime you like, But you can never leave."
That scares me for multiple reasons, but I know I'm NOT afraid of the reaper. Iused to quote this song up and down my planner when I was in middleshool. (still am) and the solo is one of the greatest ever.
As powerful anything
Ozzy - Fresno, Ca
Whatever evils "Hotel California" is about, whether its drugs, sexual immorality, greed, etc., this has to be about evils of some kinds. It could, in fact, be about all evils that entangle the people of this world. In any case, the Eagles are definitely warning against such evils and being entangled into whatever evils exist in this world. It's so true... Check out of those evils any time you want... it takes a long time to really leave. God can help you leave them, however... if you're willing. "You may check out any time you want, but you can never leave!" isn't exactly true about these evils, but if you're not willing to call on God to help you out, then after death, "You may check out any time you want, but you can never leave" becomes absolutely true. There are many souls who were entangled into the evils of this world who are endlessly checking out of HELL, wishing they could leave. But they CANNOT LEAVE!! TOO LATE FOR THEM!! Eternity, whether Heaven or Hell, can NEVER be undone!! SHAME ON US Christians for not warning those souls!! Now, let's do what the Eagles did and WARN THIS WORLD before it's too late for any more souls. You people may think I'm too preachy all ya wanna, since preaching about HELL is a scary and unpopular message; but I'm speaking TRUTH!! NO ONE can EVER exit the horror-filled HELL, so I don't want anyone to go there!! Help me, Eagles. Any "amens" to show you guys are listening?Andrew - Birmingham, United States
I've heard a lot about this (im)famous song. There are, in my humble opinion, way too many interpretations. Kinda reminds me of my time in rehab at one of the local cuckoo's nests.Joel - Columbia, Sc
The word "colitas" in the song refers to part of the female anatomy.Its mexican slang for vagina or so my mexican girlfriend says.Warm smell of colitas? Interesting!!!Brian - Kilkenny, Ireland
i used to live in camarillo, ca and the legend i heard was it was the old mental hospital over there. now it is CSUCI California State University Channel Islands. that's just what i heard. and anyone who is talking about it is all about people in california and how they are materialistic and you never lived there. you seriously don't know what you are talking about, you are making yourself sound extremely ignorant, seeing as how that is a stereotype itselfDylan - Cam, Ca
Peeps, once and for all, 'steely knives' refers to chopping coke with a razor blade. The 'beast' is cocaine. Geez.Ann - Sarasota, Fl
Does nobody realize what it stands for? THC (weed) the hotel california... its only saying to do drugs and have fun =)Renee - New York, Ny
Sex, drugs, money, fame, evil...all of those things are in there...and they're all being used to describe Hollywood. It's not complicated...just look at the name of the song...John - Washington, Dc
So many comments to read...
The song is probably about materialism. I also think it could be about drug rehab at Camerillo State Hospital. Glenn Fry & company did have various drug problems.
There is supposed to be a corpse propped up in a window shown on the album cover. As for Satantic messages when played backward, that is just one of those anomolies that happen sometimes.
J.r. - Columbia, Sc
I haven't been able to read all the comments (lots of repeats!) but the urban legend I heard was much different from anything I have found on the internet. When I was stationed in San Diego at Balboa Hospital, a friend beckoned me to the fifth floor window, and asked me what I saw. It was sunset, and the view was eerily similar to the Album cover. I was told the Navy denied all connections with the song or its lyrics. (Now, call me silly, but if they really did deny it, doesn't that usually mean there is SOME truth to it??) Since that time, whenever I listen to the song, I hear a story about military men disabled in Viet Nam and being "cared for" at Balboa Hospital. Some dance to remember, some dance to forget, to me, is the perfect artistic depiction of what veterans of gruesome wars go through. It sends chills up my spine every time. There is a mission in San Diego, and every once in a while you could hear the bells from the hospital. The line, they stab it with their steely knives but they just kill the beast, in my mind, refers to communism, and the enemy in general. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave - what a perfect ending!! Checking out could either refer to leaving the hospital but always needing to come back, or... checking out as in orders to come home, but your mind is still back in country. Of course there is the "official" story that the song was written about hedonism in So Cal. But like any fine art form, one gets from it what one can relate to.
- Kelli, San Antonio, TX

The above is the most captivating explanation I've heard. From an old Vietnam Vet with some problems left over from that place-----It touches home and seems to make sense. I heard this song on the way home from work tonight for the first time in a lot of years. Listening to the song I begin to wonder what it was all about. My mind involuntarily rushed back to '68 and '69. I was in Nam. Nam experiences just kept rolling through my mind. When I got home, I could not get the thing out of my mind and searched the meaning of this song. Kelli of San Antonio posted this way towards the top. And it seemed to ring very loud in my mind. The big difference I hold is the meaning of the line "they stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill the beast," is a reference to the beastly war and the things witnessed and done. We just can't make the memories go away.
Bill---Dallas, Texas
Bill - Fort Smith, Ar
It's a metaphor for Hollywood, narrated in the style of a horror movie. I think anyone who has ever driven on I-15 from Vegas to L.A. at night recognizes the setting at the beginning of the song. He's smoking a joint, and the "shimmering light" is L.A. It's not that complicated. If there is a specific location they had in mind, it could very well be the Playboy Mansion, as someone said earlier.John - Washington, Dc
I once heard that this song was based on the Silicon Revolution. The line "Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz" is a play on words meaning that people were becoming more materialistic. The line "And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'" means that people were there (California) based on the life-style they wanted and what they wanted. The last line in the song "'We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'" is also a reference to the Silicon Revolution saying that you can decide that you don't want a materialistic life-style but you can never truly leave it behind you.
Tanner - Asheville, Nc
i thought the song was based on the time that the cops took over a hotel because of suspisons of the mob... the cops couldnt distinguish who was or was not afilliated with it and held everyone prisoner.. it makes more sence if you truly listion to the song..Beth - Diamond Bar, Ca
Vanessa from WI:

I just got through reading your thoughts on the song, and while I do not disagree with everything I must say when I first started reading it I thought it was brilliant. As I read on, however, it just felt like you started stretching it to much. The whole thing about the woman being a metaphor for the drug, and the mercedes and all that stuff...it was like fitting an elephant into a phone booth if u know what I mean. Were the Eagles that brilliant? I highly doubt their intention was anything like what you described. But I dont mean to say your idea is bad; it is, actually, metaphorically brilliant, but I dont thihnk the Eagles could have realistically written anything like that. If anything I think they are more literal, but I do agree that it is about heroine and therefore require alot of metaphors. And I also do not fully believe what Henley said when he declared that it was about materialism.
Jack Green - Honolulu, Hi
Great song, haunting lyrics. I grew up in L.A. near Hollywood in the late 60s. This song definitely reminds me of the phony glitz and glitter of Hollywood. I'm sure the Eagles were either boozing or on some pretty potent drugs when they wrote it. "We haven't had that Spirit here since 1969." What a great line. I left Hollywood in '69 and hitchhiked up to Berkeley. I think anyone can relate to Hotel California in some way.Rose - Martinez, Ca
I haven't been able to read all the comments (lots of repeats!) but the urban legend I heard was much different from anything I have found on the internet.

When I was stationed in San Diego at Balboa Hospital, a friend beckoned me to the fifth floor window, and asked me what I saw. It was sunset, and the view was eerily similar to the Album cover. I was told the Navy denied all connections with the song or its lyrics. (Now, call me silly, but if they really did deny it, doesn't that usually mean there is SOME truth to it??)

Since that time, whenever I listen to the song, I hear a story about military men disabled in Viet Nam and being "cared for" at Balboa Hospital.

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget, to me, is the perfect artistic depiction of what veterans of gruesome wars go through. It sends chills up my spine every time.

There is a mission in San Diego, and every once in a while you could hear the bells from the hospital.

The line, they stab it with their steely knives but they just kill the beast, in my mind, refers to communism, and the enemy in general.

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave - what a perfect ending!! Checking out could either refer to leaving the hospital but always needing to come back, or... checking out as in orders to come home, but your mind is still back in country.

Of course there is the "official" story that the song was written about hedonism in So Cal. But like any fine art form, one gets from it what one can relate to.
Kelli - San Antonio, Tx
its about the manson murders if you ask me, think about it, whats the most famous of events of 1969? and happened in california? and anytime the song talks about leaving it means leaving the cult, they cant leave itBria - California, Ct
When I listen to these lyrics, all I hear are the underlying references to Heroin addiction laced throughout the story. Maybe I see this because
a) I am not Christian, so I can't identify with the meaning behind those related explanations for the lyrics;
b) I know there is more to it than just a discussion of sexual temptation, because sex is something that can be shaken off if necessary, and the famous line that ties the song together is "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave";
and c) I have been battling opiate addiction for a couple years now and it's a very intense, dark thing that has been dominating within me, so I am predisposed to reading between the lines for illustrations of different affairs with this drug.
These references no longer seem subtle to me, but blatantly blare a portrayal of this man"s encounter with heroin.
Hear me out, if you pleaaseee:

The first two lines "on a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air" depicts a man riding freely, which is an important contrast to the reality of heroin addiction, which very much locks you in. Before encountering the "Hotel California" he is able to travel with no strings attached, and at the same time he can appreciate the natural beauty of the world through his senses--the warm smell of colitas--because he is not yet intoxicated by the false euphoria that heroin fronts.
The "shimmering light" is the glinting temptation of trying an opiate... the romantic desire to feel out the sensation of ecstasy that it boasts.
The idea of his head growing heavy and sight growing dim describes his inability to be keen/smart and ignore the temptation, The fact that his sight is dim shows that he has narrowed his sights on the idea of doing this drug. The fact that he was on a dark, barren highway relates to his desire to seek refuge at this "shimmering light" because, although he had freedom, he may have been lonely or depressed, seeking a way to improve his situation with light and warmth. (When you do heroin, warmth rushes through your veins..) However, the head growing heavy and sight growing dim also foreshadows the encounter with heroin cause they are both immediate/literal, and long-term/figurative effects of the drug.

The seductive woman is clearly representative of the temptation of using heroin, and the superficial beauty of the opiate. The line "there she stood in the doorway" shows the initial way that heroin latches into his vulnerability" The "doorway" represents where he is vulnerable and exposed; the entrance through which heroin can figuratively sink its teeth into a person's soul and lifestyle. The fact that he thinks "this could be heaven or this could be hell" shows his uncertainty right from the beginning; his reservations about indulging in this, and the fact that he can sense it is the vehicle of some evil. But, like a woman can seduce a man with her looks and body, even when the man is aware of reasons he should not engage with her, he still is weak to her beckoning.

Then she "lit up a candle" and she "shows him the way", and he submits to the call of heroin. The lighting of the candle falls in line with the shimmering light that represented the drug earlier, and it is reminiscent of the words "shoot up" (lit up) or the concept of melting the heroine in order to shoot it up.

The voices singing the chorus—down the corridor (in the distance, beyond reality)— are figments of the rush of the world of heroin into his mind and his imagination and his bloodstream; Welcoming him to the alleged "beauty" of it. The "lovely place/face" boasts the superficial bliss and attraction of heroin" like the woman who represents its beauty on the surface. The fact that there is "Plenty of room at the Hotel California" just emphasizes the fact that anybody can be dragged into the dark slump that this drug insists upon with it"s abusers. While the woman represents temptation and the apparent greatness of heroin, hotel California represents this figurative place wherein all heroin addicts are imprisoned.
"Any time of year you can find it here" It refers maybe literally to heroin" you can always get it in plenty, or "it" could represent the façade of heroin"s perfection and comfort" if anybody is feeling in desperation or lonely—like the central man in these lyrics may have been at first—they can find comfort here.

The sing-song quality of the chorus, and these voices singing this tune makes it seem almost eerie and as if they are collectively brainwashed. The fact that all of these people live alone off this desert highway shows how heroin addicts cling to each other for justification, and they isolate themselves from regular society, so that they can entertain this dream world.
The fact that he "thought" he heard them say these lyrics shows that it is still unreal to him, and that the world of heroin is surreal.

The description of the woman and her twisted world in the second verse is a depiction of how heroin makes one believe that their life is better because of all these superficial feelings, so the lyrics are stocked with material images" "Tiffany-twisted" shows her mind being warped by this material designer, and the Mercedes. The boys that she plays around with shows the fact that she isn"t loyal or giving back the people she tempts, she doesn"t owe anything to them, and she has them at her disposal" she doesn"t call them anything but "friends". This relates to the fact that people sort of have this love affair with heroin, but it is a Drug, an inanimate object that doesn"t feel back.
The "dance" represents using heroin" they dance with her" and some people use drugs for different reasons" some dance with her to remember how good it feels to be with her (to be using the drug) and some use it to forget how it feels not to be (to avoid the real, sober world)

When he calls for wine, and the captain responds saying "we haven"t had that spirit since 1969" it relates to the fact that heroin and alcohol don"t mix, and heroin is a depressant in that it makes you drowsy and cozy, while alcohol inspires energy and the partying spirit that embodied the 1960"s. After the 1960"s, during the "70"s and the 80"s was when both punk music and heroin blew up, I believe, so by the time this song was written, it might be that the party spirit of alcohol had settled into a heroin epidemic.

The voices (heroin"s advertisement) waking you in the middle of the night relates to the fact that when you are using, if you don"t sleep on heroin, you can"t sleep" you wake up in the middle of the night, sweating hot & cold, needing it.

The different ending to the second chorus, saying "bring your alibis" may signify the idea that you should put everything into it, and trust the wonder and enchantment of the drug.

Mirrors on the ceiling" yes for sex, but also sort of like keeping one in check, from up above.
"We are all just prisoners here of our own device" is one of the strongest lines relating this song to heroin abuse" because you really do imprison yourself there, and hold yourself down as a victim of the drug. In the master"s chambers, they gather for the "feast" which is a feast of the drug, a place where everyone comes to fix themselves into a high.
"They stab it with their steely knives" represents the addicts trying to kill what they have come to believe as uncomfortable, depressed sobriety. The aggressive word "stab" gets at that emotion. Their steely knives are their needles and syringes. "But they just can"t kill the beast" the beast has a dual meaning here" it half means the beast of sobriety, and it half means the beast of heroin addiction, and the fact that shooting up again doesn"t actually fully bring satisfacton. This dual meaning, and heavy contradiction embodies the nature of the struggle of heroin addiction.

In the last verse, the man tries to get out while he still can, and enact that power in himself to get back to the place he was before, when he was naïve and innocent to the feeling and danger and darkness of heroin, and the night man says to him" "You can check out any time you like" as in: Sure, you can stop doing it, go through withdrawl and physically be done with it; "but you can never leave", in your heart and your mind, you will always crave it, you can never leave, it is forever embedded in your mind, heart and soul.
Scary as f**k. Never do heroin or OxyContin, Please.
Vanessa - Madison, Wi
I know it's really about addiction and excess but for fun I like to think that the writer is in a haunted hotel the doesn't even exist and he actually died in the desert along with the other people at the hotel. "You can check out but you can never leave" can't leave cuz your dead. LolSpog Zallagi - Blue Hill, Me
When I first read the lyrics, I interpreted it as being about drugs, specifically HEROINE:
"stabbed it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast" -- steely knives is a thin needle, a syringe, made of medical steel of course, used to inject the drug. And the beast is the drug itself.
"her mind is tiffany-twisted, she got the mercedes bends" -- i dont know what bends is, but Benz is obviously a play on words reflecting their materialism. her mind is twisted because she is addicted to heroine, but also to materialism (because of their wealth). "she got a lotta pretty boys that she calls friends" obviously this is a little exaggerated and sarcastic. Basically, she sleeps around with other rich guys on her drug-infused sex drive.
"you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave / we are programmed to receive" this of course is a direct attention to heroine, or any drug for that matter. They can check out any time, but they can never leave their addiction, and the drug "programs" them to receive it. Absolutely brilliant song. While I'm not sure my interpretation is fully correct, something tells me the artists (the band) wouldn't just reveal the full secret of what the song meant. I mean, if I were them, I wouldn't!
Jack Green - Honolulu, Hi
hmmm... i think you people are getting a little fricked out with it... i just see it like kind of a scary story that shows you the superficial the world is with metaphores.. that's it. and.. just because, i once heard that the song might take place in california, mexico, though now i know any place called california is told to be THE PLACE.. thnx!Anais - Juarez, Mexico
This song came out when I was a teenager in the dismal hellish ghettos of Kalamazoo Michigan. You know, Michigan Militia, ultra-right-religious zealotry, the whole nine yards. The religious leaders were finally realizing that banning rock-and-roll was turning out to be a lost cause because all the teenagers were "closet rockers". So they started at least tolerating Christian rock (though frowning upon it as borderline blasphemous for perverting "God's music" which pretty much had to come out of a pipe organ.) But when "Hotel California" came out, the religious right jumped on it as an anti-liberal anthem that would serve the children well to analyze. So in Bible School classes, they pulled apart the lyrics, word by word, as symbology for how even the Eagles, the favorite band of most of us closet rockers at the time, railed against the sinful lifestyle of anybody who would leave the Midwest agriarian religious lifestyle and head out for the big city lights. The "steely knife" was interpreted as the genitalia of a gay man who would rape unsuspecting Christian boys who dared stray from the farm. The "nightman" was of course Satan. "We don't serve that spirit hear" was, of course, a reference to the absense of communion in Hell, and the abandonment of God to sinners. "You can check out any time you leave but you can never leave" was reference to the "fact" that once you succumbed to the temptations of the "world", you would never be able to fully come back to the Church because your soul would always belong to Satan. "All that's out there is sex, drugs, and rock and roll" the dour old preacher used to tell us, "and even the Eagles, a band of this world, not of God, are trying to warn you to stay away." Naturally, his hellfire and brimstone scared the begeepers out of most of the farm kids, who dutifully got thru high school, married whichever woman the parents had arranged for them years before, and settled on their family farm to repeat the cycle of terrorizing their own kids, ad infinitum. The warnings about how California was full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll really scared them into staying down on the farm. But not me, nosirreee... I got the hell out of there as soon as I was able, and moved right out to California. Where, much to my chagrin, the free love days of the 1960s were long gone, and all that was left was AIDS, AIDS, and rock and roll. But hell, at least the rock and roll is great out here on the Left Coast. Better than Michigan corn country twanging.... And the Eagles were right: once I checked into California, I could never leave. I'd certainly not go back to the hell of Michigan anyway. So that's the truth. Pbbbbbt.Dean - San Jose, Ca
Hotel Cal is a good song but the Eagles have 10 or 12 songs that's even better. That's how good the Eagles really are.Mike - Hueytown , Al
I think that it is either about life in California or about being in purgatory. The thing about it being about Satanists is dumb.Tim - Somewhere In, Ga
A lot of the comments here are crazy. It is very obvious what the song is about, but I guess a lot of people have a problem with metaphor. The title should be enough. This is a song that is completely trashing Hollywood. The simplified version is: it looks appealing on the outside, but these people are a bunch of evil sickos. Other songs on the same album address different aspects of the same theme: "Life in the Fast Lane", "Victim of Love", etc.John - Washington, Dc
If you listen the song backwards you can clearly hear somenthing about satan.I know that cause I listen it a lott of time backwards.Something like-'Yeah Satan, he organized, oh, he organized his own religion. Yeah, when he knows he should, how nice it was delicious, he puts it in a vet he fixes it for his son which he gives away'Ivana - -, Czech Republic
I agree 100% with Bob Lubbock (TX)'s comments about Hotel California. The live version (?) in 'Hell Freezes Over' is my favorite because of the guitar finishing. Chris Kondo, ClevelandChristopher - Cleveland, Oh
Another thing that one might not know about this song is that "colitas" means "tripe" in some Spanish dialects. I lived near a Mexican ghetto in Portland, OR from 1975 to 1977, so I would know.Darrell - Eugene
Is there a studio recorded version of this song? I've only heard the live one.Musiclover - Toronto
the song is clearly about a struggle with addiction, it's kinda obvious... colitas=weed, spirt=alcohol, anything eles that needs to be cleared up?Shawn - Where Ever, Nj
If any one out there has the old double album of Hotel California open it up and see if there is a picture of a strange person in the upper center looking out a window. If there is or isn't please post it because I understand if there is then thats a guy named Anton Levey who is the head of the Satanic church. Now I think that of course the song is partially about drugs but also keep in mind all that sex drugs and devious behavior is asociated with satan worship and the ocult. Some of the lyrics that turn me that way is yeah the hotel must be an abandoned church because of the words "I called the captin please bring me my wine he said we haven't had that spirit here sinse 1969" Of course wine being one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit I just figured it was an old abandoned church. Most of the song would reflect drugs and sex. The other lyrics that swing me that way would be "relax said the night man we are programmed to recieve" just like the brainwashing that does take place in the ocult its always one sided. But the kicker her to me is You can check out anytime but you can never leave" Also just like the satanic church once a member you are a member for life or it may be your life. Anyway all just another opinion. I'd love to here from one of the Eagles to straighten us all out how bout that ..Cheers!!!mike Spring Grove Pa.Mike - Spring Grove, Pa
Haven't had time to read all the comments but I always referenced the song to Satanic worship and the fact that it was an old abandoned church taken over by these people this fella just stumbled onto one day. Parts like "please bring me my wine" he said we havent had that spirit here sinse 1969" of course wine being a symbol of the Holy Spirit leades me to believe it used to be a church. Of course all the sexual rituals asociated with satanism is noted in the song."relax said the nightman we are programmed to recieve" again a reference to brainwashing that happens in these kinds of orgainzations. And the kicker is you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave is true about a bonified satanist church once you are a member it's for life or it may be your life.I believe any of you who may have that old double album can you look on the inside where you open it up and you see a hotel lobby and up in the center do you see a picture of a strange man if so post it if you do because this is supposed to be the pic of Anton Levey who is the head of the satanic church.Check it out and see if thats true I'm not sure. Yeah I'd amagine the song is about that for sureMike - Spring Grove, Pa
I agree with you Emma. That is quite the interesting interpretation. I still think it's about drugs, not a hotel. Everyone is entitled to their thoughts, but it's not about a hotel.Chapel - Columbus, Ga
Pierre, I actually think reading your interpretation of Hotel California is the funniest thing I have ever read. You can't even say who the lead singer of The Eagles is!! And as for your interpretation- Hotel California has nothing to do with being stranded and staying at a hotel. Please don't tell me people are actually naive enough to believe it is seriously about a Hotel.Emma - Melbourne, Australia
I agree that it is on anti-excess cocaine. I remember Glenn Frey stating somewhere too, because colitas is a marijuana bud and of course the ending - "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave". Sometimes I felt the starting music of the song is also so haunting that it 'addicts' you to the song, practically showing you how cocaine is ;-) In my view, the best rock song of all time, liked by people who listen to any kind of genre of music.Mayank - Ranchi, India
Hey, alexandra, belgrade, Other - Europe....... That,my child, is bad spelling and grammar.
Anyway, stop typing in caps, it won't change mine or anyone else's mind about the meaning. Listen to the lyrics: "We are programmed to receive," and "We are all just prisoners here of our own device." While I can understand how you comprehend the song as being about drugs, I comprehend it as some kind of horror story about technological takeovers. I have heard it said that the song has no meaning, but it's all in the comprehension. I know I'm not changing your mind, all I'm trying to do is give you all the way I pick it up.
Bob - Bobtown, Ca
Stephen in Claymont, I think that this song is about the hotel and motel industry, at least the "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave" line. You can leave a hotel any time, but your DNA stays behind, especially if you bathe, use the toilet or engage in sexual activity. The rest of this song is definitely based on an acid trip or perhaps a hallucination on 'shrooms or PCP.Darrell - Eugene
Hotel California is a place of addiction.....whether they are drugs or other things. and towards the end of the song when this is said "and in the master's chamber they gather for the feast, they stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill the beast" this is saying that who ever this guy is that he is trying to quit his addiction but some how the habbit won't "die".Hailey - Madison Heights, Va
According to Joe Walsh, Henley didn't like the dualing solo at the end at first. He told them they could do better, then went out to dinner. Joe and Don Felder stayed in the studio and pretended to re-record that part and when Henley returned said that solo was much better. Ha!Bill - Downers Grove, Il
Is it about drug addiction, marriage, cults, or Microsoft? The truth is all these things are the same, which is why there are so many interpretations.

Mainly, though, the lyrics of Hotel California are about listening to Hotel California. Specifically the song deals with the internal conflict that arises from hearing a great song come on the radio in an otherwise rubbish playlist at the exact moment when you were about to go to the toilet.
Joe - Tyneside, England
Thanks Sam, I couldn't decide between what you said or If it was about if you do drugs a lot and then you wanna quit you can't because your hooked on them.... But yours sounds more likely...THANKSStephen - Claymont , De
Stephen, I've have always interperted the line "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 checkout any time you like, but you can never leave!" as being the climax of the song, that being famous and rich is always protrayed as being good but when you become famous u figure out its bad and u want to escape it but in reality u can try all u want but u can never stop being famous and you're stuck with that life forever.Sam - Portsmouth, Va
I've heard all the things that this song could be about, but all that really matters is DIRECT quotes from the band members themselves. Read above, it's about their high life. Almost all bands were heavily involved with drugs. But either way, the meanings some of you had were good too.
-just adding my 2 cents
Larry - Quakertown, Pa
Taking the materialism interpretation of this song, the metaphorical woman mentioned at the start of the song would either be money or the allure of materialism. Comments?Glen - Charlotte, Nc
the song is about what you want heaven to be. When he says "colitas" at the beggining colitas is another word for cannibus so what i think is he was smoking to much and then he says "up ahead in the distance i saw a shimmering light" well when people have near death experiance they say they see a bright light" now i cant explain every part but it also kinda sounds like its about a lot of different thingsRyan - Halifax, Canada
I have always taken the song to be about a man who is in death. That is what I have told my kids anyway. I really did get a shock when I got reading so many different ideas on what it could be about because I have never taken it to mean anything other than what I suggested. I just think it is quite obvious in the lyrics as to the meaning. The song is very beautiful and almost makes me cry every time I hear it.
It is without doubt the best song of all time.
Angela. Sunderland,England.
Angela - Sunderland, England
I would rather light my face on fire and put it out with a hatchet and an industrial sandblaster than hear this song.Dennis - Athens, Ga
ive commented on several dylan songs, and then i thought of this, one of my favorite of all-time...its riff at the end is comparable only to a few other greats, songs like free bird and such, but i would have to say that its probably my favorite...my best friend and i's thought ever since we first heard the song early in high school was that it was about hell, how he arrives and thinks its such an amazing place, but at night everyone is up BSing about the "lovely place", then they cant kill the beast, a symbol of the irony that hell would be, never being satisfied...then of course the last line about being able to check out, but not leave is just another portrayal of the suffering that hell would be like...well thanks for hearing my opinion...feel free to tear it upAndrew - Cleveland, Oh
I love the lyrics to this song so much that on my next forencics (voice acting) competition, I will try to get my drama teacher to let me read this song.Sam - Portsmouth, Va
People think this song is about a hotel of California but it is really talking about Heroin Addiction i know and other people know but some people think its about a hotel in california. The line that says "you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave" that refers to you can stop doing it anytime you like but u will always be addicted.Brandon - Winnipeg, Canada
I've been an Eagles fan since I first heard Take It Easy in 1972 or 1973. I've read a bunch of other's thoughts on the song Hotel California. I really think it's about the inner feelings of the guys after coming to California, making it big, taking some chances, getting caught up in the good life, having lots of money and experiencing great wealth, taking life to the edge (fast lane), thinking about where they came from and realizing they were caught up in the California thing. They were in a place they were not sure they wanted to leave. Could they leave? These guys came from solid, middle class families. They may have each been rebellious but most musicians are. The song was written 20 years before they settled down. I don't believe the song is about Satanism. I knew Don Henley and his mother at the height of the Eagles success. I saw Don on the edge of wanting out of the California lifestyle but it took him over 10 more years until he came back home. It's sort of funny to see the wild stories about the song. I can listen to it over and over and I hear different things each time I hear it. These guys wrote about what went on with lots of people my age, including myself. All of us has had the experience of "Lyin' Eyes". I wouldn't trade a minute for any of it.Bob - Lubbock, Tx
This song is about California State Prison and an inmate attitude toward incarceration--"you can check out any time you like(as in DIE)but you can never leave". Another Eagles song about state prison is On The Border , where the inmate is using a telephone close to the perimeter fence an the gaurd monitoring the call says"never mind your name,just give us you number",as in prison number.I'm not positive but I'll bet Don Hendly or another one of theEagles did so time in the Penn.David - Paso Robles, Ca
One of the greatest songs out there...it's up there with Stairway to Heaven and Bohemian RhapsodyTim - Philadelphia, Pa
If you watch the "Hell Freezes Over" DVD (I'm pretty sure its on that one) the guys explain alot of what you people are trying to theorize. They say that the hotel is just a place in San Diego, it had no real part in the story, it just looked good. Then they say that the song is simply a metaphor for life in Califonia. If there's more to it than that, nobody from the Eagles said it. (It could have been on the Farewell I DVD). My main point is that he said the hotel on the album cover is just a place in San Diego, it simply looked good. That's all, there's no story behind it and it's not the Hotel Del Coronado or the Beverly Hills Hotel.Andrew - Puyallup, Wa
I think deep down this song describes a man's unending quest to find the best cup of tea in California. After all, the tea in California is pretty dire.Lynex - Warrington, England
This song is in tribute to a "Black Church" located in San Francisco CA. for those of you that don't know what a black church is... a synogogue where they worship the "black madonna" or "the mother of satan" this building is in the middle of town, near a bunch of houses, and the major difference in it is, that it is totally painted black! I know this because one of my good friends was a high ranking member of this congregation in the 60's and 70's. he has the tatoo on his neck and every thing. he said that many of the major rock icons of the 70's were somewhat connected to this place and it's haight-ashbury procimity. led zepp, the eagles, don mcclain, john lennon and a whole heap of others... this was the place to get drugs, cocaine, lsd... they had it all. just needed to pass this along, please send comments!Jeremy - Martin, Tn
This song is about Hotel Del Corenado Located in San Diego, which is on of the most haunted locations in North America.Marta - Bellflower, Ca
Did anybody entertain the possability that this song may simply refur to a drug/ and or alcohol rehab ?Jim - Somewhere, Pa
I don?t really understand why people are thinking this song is about drugs or satanic cults. Come on people, think seriously. Take the song a bit more literally, but at the same time, just follow whats being said. Okay the song starts off, hes driving down the highway, smoking some weed, just hanging out. He gets tired and sees an old church ?mission? and figures that?s a good place to crash for the night. However, it seems that the church is no longer a church, but a brothel. ?this could be heaven or this could be hell? refers to the fact that you get pleasure here, but at the same time it?s a dirty guilty pleasure, one that feels almost defiantly like a sin. The woman who greets him is all dolled up and dressed up. Her ?friends? are the other clients who come to see her. ?dance in the courtyard, SWEET SUMMER SWEAT?, dancing is an allusion to sex. ?Some dance to remember, some dance to forget? people come there for many reasons, remembering a lost girl, or even to forget a girl who broke your heart. The chorus is just the sentiment of the people who come there ? lovely place, lovely face? the girls. ? what a nice surprise, bring your alibis? don?t let your wives know where you went.
Here?s where its gets pretty obvious?. ?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?
Prisoners of our own device refers to the fact that everyone succumbs to their most inate desires of lust. The ?feast? is the sex, They stab it with their steely knives, but they just cant kill the beast. They screw to quench their thirst for lust, but in the end all it does is make them want more.
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 checkout any time you like,
but you can never leave!
Here is basically after he?s done and he has that feeling of ?what have I done?. He runs out but before he does, a guy basically tells him, you can leave this place, but this place will never leave you. Henley was embarrassed that he sought comfort from a prostitute and this song was a way of purging his mind of it.
Ray - Bethlehem, Pa
I think that this song is great but many people to me severely overrate it.Sam - Portsmouth, Va
In context with the rest of the album, I can see that it is about The Eagles experience in S. Cal.
However, (since all songwriters leave interpretation of their songs up to the listener)to me it has always been about a man dying in a car crash (from falling asleep at the wheel) and ending up in Purgatory (the Hotel). Please bear in mind two things as you read the following interpretation of the song. 1. This is the way I have pictured the song in my head (like a video) since I first heard it as a kid. 2. Despite the references to God and Purgatory that I use, I am not a Christan nor do I believe in the tenants of Judaism and do not see this song as religious in any way.

"On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair" *Guy driving either a convertible or a motorcycle.*
"Up ahead in the distance, I saw shimmering light" *The headlights of an oncoming vehicle.*
"My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim" *He falls asleep/passes out.*
"I had to stop for the night" *He dies.*
"There she stood in the doorway;" *The greeter.*
"I heard the mission bell" *His death knell*
"And I was thinking to myself,
'This could be Heaven or this could be Hell'" *No pearly gates nor burning fires because it's Purgatory, but since you're not told where you go when you die, Purgatory can be what you make of it.*
"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" *He is welcomed to Purgatory by the other residents.*

"Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends" *Here we learn what happened to the woman he left behind after he died. The singer and his woman were both famous and the "boys" are hangers on now that she is a widow.*
"How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget" *What her and the handsome hangers on do (maybe sex). Some to remember him, some 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'" *I always felt that he is unaware that he is dead at first, so he acts like a regular hotel guest. No one has been that feisty for along time.*
"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" *Again the souls of the dead in Purgatory calling to him.*
"What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)" *He starts to realize that he is dead.*
"Bring your alibis" *No one wants to be dead, so he must be anywhere else and have proof.*

"Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice" The banquet hall.
"And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'" *Every soul here did something in life that put them into Purgatory. Something they did or how they were that denies them either eternal reward or eternal punishment.*
"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" *We all know that 'steely' is a nod to Steely Dan. I have always pictured this scene as God giving them a chance to earn their way out of Purgatory, but they never can. Also it always felt like the eternal frustration of sameness that must be what Purgatory is like.*

"Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before" *He tries to go back to life, to living. 'Last thing I remember' because when he opens the door and tries to leave he passes out and wakes up back in his hotel room.*
"'Relax,' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive." *The night man is the desk clerk. He is explaining that Purgatory and death is a one-way door. *
"You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'" *The night man is saying that you can pretend to be alive all you like, but it doesn't change a thing.*
Robin Kaufman - Auburn, Wa
In 1977 I was riding a bicycle across America, Yorktown, VA to San Diego, my home town. I was with my girlfriend. We were close to broke and stayed in campgrounds and usually just pitched a tent anywhere to sleep. But we were riding along the beach in LA headed south, no place to camp, wondering how we would spend the night. We came to the Hotel California. It was a two-story building, painted white, clearly recently rehabilitated, but cheaply. It was August, but there were few guests. Partly because we loved the song, we talked to the manager, who let us talk him down to a price we could afford. It was the only hotel/motel room we stayed in that entire summer. The room had a stove, and frig., so we went to the grocery store and bought steak and potatoes and wine. They cooked up great! It was a good one-night stay. And they let us leave!Bill - San Diego, Ca
Contrare to popular belief that the song is about a mental institution, in my eyes this song is about hell. And hell could very well be a giant mental institution - afterall it's "designed" to torture, and the mind of a person suffering from insanity is indeed tortured. If you listen to the lyrics with my theory in mind you'll definatly see what I mean.Lexxi - Eg, Ny
this song is the most overrated song in rock historyKelly - Anchorage, Ak
It is about greed: pure and simple. Greed turns men evil. The hotel, lavishly decorated and extravogant, is the symbol of greed. The woman in the song loves the attention of all of the men. In turn they desire her. Because of this, no one really ever leaves the hotel. I have been reading "The Shining" by Stephen King lately, and a quote from the book kept popping up in my head when I listened to this song: "This human place makes inhuman monsters."Patrick - Tallapoosa, Ga
its a ghost story....
shimmering light in the beginning is the lady ghost tennant of the hotel alluring him.
whatever happend at the hotel pbviously happend at 1969 seeing as they had no wine sence then.
common superstition states that the spirit realm is closest to the realm of the living at the 12:00's and in the spring and fall solstices. the calitis flower blooms in the solstice and he hears voices in the middle of the night. anyone will tell you ghosts sound as if they come from far away.
bring your alibis... referring to perhaps a red light districts sort of hotel.
prisoners of their own device... whwne you die people say when you go to hell you have dinner with the devil (or beast pick one of the many names for the devil) stabbing the devil to try and stay alive because of course human nature is denial.
John - Seattle, Wa
We picked this song to death about 20 years ago in college. This is the information I got. If I remember correctly, there are some oddities in the pictures on the album cover. I believe that in the picture where all of the people are standing, talking and drinking in the courtyard there was some sort of small animals tail coming from out of the balcony. They say that this was symbolic of the beast.
Joe, Vicksburg,MS
Joe Adams - Vicksburg, Ms
I thought the church of Satan opened in 1966 for some reason.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
The Eagles wrote Hotel California based on the formation and opening of the first satanic church in the United States of America. It was founded in 1969 in CALIFORNIA by Anton Szandor LeVay. A sign of the times. Welcome to California, a lovely place with a lovely face There's plenty of room at the "Hotel California", any time of year, you can find it here. They're living it up at the Hotel California. The last thing he remembered, he was running for the door but then heard the "NIGHT MAN" say "relax, we're programed to receive, you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. Because of the opening of this "church", California is compared to an evil place, "HELL."
Joe, Vicksburg, MS
Joe Adams - Vicksburg, Ms
I'm from who think this song is about satanism.
I know most of you think im stupid but when you listen to it backward you can hear ("satan he hears this,he had me believe").And who think that 1969 is a coincidence? 1969... 969... 666.
that's all i have to say for the moment.
John - St-gabriel, Canada
there is a real Hotel California, it's in LAMr. - Misterville, Canada
One of the best songs ever! Sadly hengda of singapore gets to try to scare the weak into believing the song is cult ridden. Can we just recognize ART for what ART is? And this song is the Rock Rembrandt, hands down! Its acoustic version on Hell Freezes Over was well, perfect. Saw the tour promoting the album in Wembley, talk about dazzling!Steve - Salem, Nh
Its rather ridiculous reading some comments which said that the song is about marriage, drugs and all. Seriously, if we take time and dissect the song using a bit of our brains, its not hard to see that the band is subtlely hinting about satanic cult, though it is not in anyway saying that it is associated with the cult. We shall look at the lines in greater details.
"On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air" ~ the protagonist was walking, seemingly dosed with drugs(colitas).
"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" ~ he saw the church light, and since the side effects of the drug was kicking in, he had no choice but to stayover.
"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" ~ A woman welcomed his visit. However, despite being a church(heaven), it was a satanic one(hell) and thus he had his reservations.
"Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say... "~ he was ushered into the church and there seemed to be a ritual going on with all the voices around.
"chorus"~ he was welcomed by cultists.
"Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends"~ he saw a rich girl who was shapely.
" 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"~ Subtlely, it hints of the fact that an orgy is taking place.
" So I called up the Captain,
Please bring me my wine
He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine"~ 1969 was the year the first satanic church was set up, and the spirit here literally meant ghosts.
" And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say... + chorus"~ the ritual continued.
"Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"~ basic description of the interior. More emphasis is on the latter part when the woman said that people chose to practise this(satanic cult) on their own accord.
"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 "~ it isnt a real feast we are talking about; it is a human sacrifice! They were using razor sharp knives to stab the sacrificial, yet they could never get rid of the demons that were residing in their hearts.
"Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before "~ the protagonist got scared and he had to leave the place.
"Relax," said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
but you can never leave"~ he saw a guy who let him leave. The guy commented that anyone was welcomed to the cult but once you joined the cult, there would be no turning back.
Hengda - Singapore, Singapore
I may be the only person in the universe who dislikes this song. Before you kill me, note that I do not say it sucks. It does not. I simply cannot hear it played without having it run through my head for the next five or six days. It was played to death on nearly every radio station on the dial for months. Like the song itself, one could not get away from it. The melodic line is played straight into the ground, and both the verses and the refrain end on that f---g dominant (fifth) chord so that the only resolution (return to the tonic chord) leads right into the next repeat of the pattern. (which of course, again, is the point of the song). I wondered if the hotel was sentient like Hill House or the Overlook, pulling unwary travelers in by causing them to feel exhaustion at the very sight of the place. Many people enjoy the song's irony -- a highly paid group whose label was feeding them cocaine in goldfish bowls, talking about the evils of commercialism and materialism ruining people's lives, but that theme goes back to Phil Ochs. The cryptic lyrics are fun by themselves -- It's about drugs! It's about the Satanic Church! It's about naked lady mudwrestlers!. The song is also attractive due to the quality of the musicianship, of course, but also because the recording was influenced by what was then termed the "cocaine sound" -- a lot of compression, a lot of high end, very clear and polished, with more Pledge being added in the studio. Like "A Day in the Life", it's that combination of cryptic lyrics and production that get your attention, and, unfortunately, mine. The minute I hear those opening chords the radio goes OFF. I will not stay in a store or cafe where it is being played. It's the only way to save my sanity.Ekristheh - Halath, United States
from what i hear
"the song is about the eternal Abyss known as Hell on Earth...anyone venturing into this Eternal Abyss, will rise from the ashes of satan, to roam the earth in search of truth and justice and The American way
Pete - Nowra, Australia
This is the best song of all time. The lyrics and the layered guitars. The best part for me is the beginning and end because of the instrumentals. Everyone thinks of this song as sadistic, about drugs, or having back words messages. Who cares, the reason why this song is so well liked is because no one is quite sure what the lyrics mean. Why do you think The Eagles won't tell people what the song is about. The Eagles know that if people know what the lyrics are about the song wouldn't be as popular or talked about. I love this song at a musician's stand point( I'm a guitarist). Strong lyrics and 2 very good instrumental parts(beginning and end).Ray - Stockton, Nj
Robotic/technological takeover? That's the first time I've heard that one!Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Also a while back it has been rumored that most lines when played backwards said in different forms: "Stay at Days Inn, don't look under the mattress".

It was not true.
Bob - Rio Vista, Ca
Guys my family studied this song many times over and found it to be about a robotic/technological takeover or drug addiction.
You can figure out why on your own.
Bob - Rio Vista, Ca
WOW... don't know where you guys got all this cult..devil...drug..stuff... you should all do a little reading...
Hotel California...was the name of the Eagles Tour Bus... that's all... the song is about the band... Wow.. some of your comments are scary... do a little research.
Windle - Montgomery, Al
I believe this song is about LA and materialism and the record industry etc, I heard an interview recently on the radio with band and they explained this.
However, I previously interpreted the song to be about some sort of brothel."this could be heaven and this could be hell" (depends how you rate sex with strangers?) "mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice" "she's got a lot of pretty pretty boys, she calls friends" (just suspect!) "how they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.some dance to remember, some dance to forget" (dance=sex?) "we are all just prisoners here, of our own devise" (prostitutes?)
It makes sense to me?!
Stephanie - Glasgow, Scotland
Hotel california is about being decieved by the devilKenny - Miami, Fl
What a furtive imagination some of you have.

Interesting thread, and a classic example of how individual interpretation can soon digress into conjuring fairy tales. Most people here seem to be overlooking the fact that the best explanation has already been given from the men who penned it. The song is [i]littered[/i] with metaphors and deliberately so. How boring would a song be if every line were literal in it's meaning? Paradoxically, what makes this song so interesting, is that listeners tend to do exactly that, and then are left with trying to make sense of 'stabbing beasts with steely knives' - it's quite laughable.

Interestingly, long before they eventually reformed, Don Henley was asked when the Eagles would ever get back together and he replied '...when hell freezes over...', hence the name of the comeback tour. Perhaps the same people who believe Hotel California is about devil worship, will also think there are evil doers in their droves skating around satan's abyss.
Matt - Manchester, England
i believe its about suicide

it seems so good to people who are desparate and you can check out (a different phrase for die)any time you like but you can never leave (you cant come back from the dead)"my legs got heavy and my sight grew dim i had to stop for the night" (could be a refrence to the sensation of dying or the fact he got so tired of everything he wanted to "go to sleep" yet another word for dying.
John - Indianapolis, In
My husband has been looking for the LONG version of Hotel California. He said it is about 23 minutes long and had it downloaded at one time but our computer crashed. Did this version ever get put out on one of their CD's?
Monica
Monica - Pensacola, Fl
At this very moment, I'm sitting in the kitchen/breakfast area of the Hotel California in Todos Santos with my wife; it's about 9:00 AM. Take Five is playing in the bar one room over, Mexicans are offering me coffee and chopping onions and laughing at jokes I can't make out, there's no pink champagne, no mirrors on the ceiling. Proprietor Debbie just dropped by and told me she's certain Don and the boys never visited her Hotel. But it remains a wonderland, a trip back in time and into another artistic/spiritual cosmos. Indeed, I was awakened at midnight by strange sounds: some local cat or raccoon was on our porch trying to break into our cooler. Otherwise, this could be heaven. . .

To the extext the song may have originally been about LA commercial decadence, it is even moreso today. 70 km south is Cabo San Lucas, as disgusting a glitzy west coast tourist trap as can be found in the States, with Hard Rock Cafe karyoke, drunken hedonism on sunset cruises, stores that sell Chinese-made t-shirts promoting Budweiser and titty contests, and a time-share vendor at every street corner. Prices have tripled in 3 years: a hot dog sells for $15 at a nearby resort! "Prisoners of our own device" indeed! Walking the streets, the only clue that you're in Mexico is the Spanish spoken by the locals and on the street signs. Tourist agencies actually call it the "Los Angelization" of Los Cabos.

Todos Santos remains beautiful and inspiring. I hope the Eagles, their promoters, and their average fans (excluding members of this webpage) will stay away, or visit it with subdued reverence and respect.
Rees - Dahlonega, Ga
Growing up, I never realized that Hotel California was about LA. But once I moved here, I got it.Shelly - Los Angeles, Ca
i thought the song was about hell but its just a great song the lyrics might mean nothing but they are so cool but what i think is the best part of the sing is the guitar at the end and the drums bang bang every so often its just amasing im going to see them in dublin and i cant wait i missed the chance to see them last time when they where here doing the hell freezes over tour but nothing is stopping me going this time and i mean nothing all in all great group brilliant song -kenny, dublin, IrelandKenny - Dublin, Ireland
I've allways though that Hotel California was a high security prison in the states... ins't that strange? just chek the lyrics.Luis Talete - Lisbon, Portugal
Nick is right about the Robert Frost poem.Matt - Tsawwassen
I like that interpretation of "Hotel California" being compared to the cave story. It works.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
I believe the song is an allusion to Plato's Allegory of the Cave. After reading this, please tell me your opinions about it.

Summary of the Allegory of the Cave:
People have been chained down in a dark cave for their whole lives. All they can see, all they have ever seen, are shadows of the rest of the world on the wall infront of them. Because they don't know any better, they assume that these shadows are real. One day, a prisoner is released from his chains. He goes outside of the cave, into the light, burning his eyes, but becoming enlightened. He decides to go back into the cave to tell everyone what he saw, but they don't believe him.

In the Allegory, the darkness of the cave represents ignorance, the light represents knowledge, and the chains represent our perception of the world.

How Hotel California connects to The Allegory of the Cave:
Lyrics: On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas
Rising up through the air

Thoughts: Instead of a dark cave we have a "dark desert highway" that, to the prisoners, seems like a nice place.

Lyrics: 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

Thoughts: The shimmering light alludes to the "light" or knowledge that the man who broke free of his chains gained. Like the man, the narrator of the song hurt his eyes because of it.

Lyrics: 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

Thoughts: "She" could mean knowledge; because the narrator has been in the dark for so long, he is still uncertain if he believes that the knowledge he's learning is real.

Lyrics: 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 (background)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year
Any time of year (background)
You can find it here
You can find it here

Thoughts: The narrator is still learning. The other people who broke free of their chains tell him that the light is much better then ignorance in the dark and it was here all along. All he had to do was think.

Lyrics: Her mind is Tiffany twisted
She's got the Mercedes bends
She's got a lot of pretty, pretty boys
That she calls friends

Thoughts: Again, "her" means knowledge. The narrator is saying that she seems to have and know everything. Everyone else who broke their chains are trying to gain as much knowledge as they can("she's got a lot of pretty, pretty boys"). By calling the knowledgable people pretty, the narrator is starting to show that he believes that the knowledge he's gaining is real and the "shadows" are an illusion.

Lyric: How they dance in the courtyard
Sweet summer sweat
Some dance to remember
Some dance to forget

Thoughts: Some (remember, the "they" in the lyrics above refers to the people who have broken their chains.)dance to remember that the knowledge they gained in the light is not an illusion. Some dance to forget the shadows in the dark cave.

Lyric: So I called up the Captain
Please bring me my wine
He said
We haven't had that spirit here since 1969

Thoughts: By requesting wine, the narrator is showing that he wants to forget the knowledge he gained. The Captain is surprised by this. Most people who come into the light never want to go back except for a case in 1969.

Lyric: 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 (background)
Such a lovely face
They're livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise
What a nice surprise (background)
Bring your alibies

Thoghts: The enlightened people still keep insisting that the light is better then the dark. Alibies will be needed for the individuals still in the dark; not everyone is ready to learn about the light.

Lyic: The Mirrors on the ceiling
Pink champagne on ice
And she said
We are all just prisoners here
Of our own device

Thoughts: No one can be forced to stay in either the darness or light; anything that keeps you in a place you don't want to be is due to your "own device."

Lyric: 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

Thoughts: Don't forget, this is still from the narrator's point of view. He sees what the enlightened people believe and the events they take part in, but it all sees so weird to him, a person who has known nothing but shadows for his whole life.

Lyric: Last thing I remember
I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before

Thoughts: Finally, he can't take it and wants to go back to his cave.

Lyric: Relax said the nightman
We are programed to recieve
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave

Thoughts: The nightman tells him that he can go back to the cave, but it won't be the same; he'll never forget the knowledge he learned in the light of the Hotel California.
Brooke - Miami, Fl
Many believe that this song is based on Dante's Inferno and Dante's journey through hell. Through close inspection the lyrics detail much symbolism from the Inferno.Chris - Manalapan, Nj
These guys *are* geniuses. Still going strong=)John - Millersville, Md
At 64, I've just discovered The Eagles - in 2006. Yup. Peculiar, eh? I think this is just a plain great song. Period. It's like Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening," a poem that can, and will be, dissected down to its subatomic particles forever. These guys were geniuses. The imagery in this song is just plain rich. The guitar music is magical. It's a song. It's a poem. It's a tone poem. I'm gonna wear out my second-hand CD's.Nick - Raleigh, Nc
In my opinion Hotel California is the greatest rock song ever written. The guitar rifts, the lyrics and the imagery this song conjures up is second to none. It is fun to speculate as to the "meaning" of Hotel California and its indiviudual lyrics as evident on this web page. But for me, this song will always be associated with driving, at night, from Arizona to California (paradise found). As you drive through the mountains on your way to San Diego you can feel the wind become cooler and the smell of the ocean fills the air. And you can picture yourself as Don Henley driving along on some great yet mysterious adventure. This is a song about decadence and a life without love that is all image and glamour but lacking in emotion. I relate this to a "look but don't touch" proposition. Hotel California paints a picture of a different type of lifestyle that is based on material wealth and status that tempts all who are exposed to it. The catch is that once you have attained and become a guest at the Hotel, you find yourself unsatisfied and even lamenting for the regular life you have discarded. The beauty queen you thought was the perfect woman has become a soulless void "...Tiffany twisted..." suffering from a one track mind having "...the Mercedes bends..." You should have known that this quest was not to be since all ",,,her pretty, pretty boys..." were just friends.
The real tregedy here is not the fact that once you have forsaken all to reach a life of oppulance and excess and found it to be a purgatory of sorts, but rather the fact that your innocence is forever lost "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave."
Fortunately, what makes Hotel California, in my opinion, a national anthem is that it is merely a message, a warning, if you will, that all that glitters is not gold. We ultimately have the choice as to what path we will follow. We can learn from the mistakes of others and we can choose good over evil, love over material gain. We, as listeners can take confort that we are afforded a glimpse of a kind of Hell that is entirely avioidable. We still and always will have the choice to make and in that we are free and content.
Miguel - Glendale, Az
"You can check in anytime you want but you can never leave."
The preceding lyric was contributed by Jackson Browne. It was in reference to his wife who had committed suicide.
John - Wilmington, Nc
it's a sweet dream. it's a nightmare. it's a wonderland. it's a graveyard. it's our homeland. all of us are trapped in the hotel california. i don't know how to get out of it, and i don't want to leave, until the never ending tomorrowBob - Zhuhai, China
To me this song is about visiting hell from the moment he arrives to when it's time to leave and he realizes he's stuck there.Mary - Tulsa, Ok
This song is about a real life cult and cult house.Josh - Greenville, Sc
What is amazing to me is all the various interpretations of what people believe the song is really about. To me, it is part acid trip gone wrong (all the references to "colitas", and the "you can check out any time you like but you can never leave", which shows that drug addiction has a powerful hold on someone), part road trip, and overall is a complete trip :) I love this song, and Joe Walsh's final guitar solo is classic, and great for air guitar :)Jimoh - The Bronx Ny, Ny
In the recently released Live from Melbourne DVD, Glenn Frey laughs off accusations of being satanic by jokingly referring to the period when the Eagles wrote Lyin' Eyes as their 'satanic rhythm and blues' era. He also jokingly refers to his first wife as 'plaintiff' and notes that his wife calls Take It To The Limit the 'credit card song'.John - Millersville, Md
If you play the part that says "In the middle of the night, just to hear them say" backward, it says "satan he hears this... he helps me beleive"Joseph - Chicago, Il
Most people don't realize that Hotel California is really a reggae song, as the emphasis is on the up beat especially through the background short chords and lyrics.Joe - Redlands, Ca
The Eagles and Steely Dan were never the same group. The Eagles formed as the backup band for Linda Ronstadt, and neither of Steely Dan's members have ever been in the band.John - Millersville, Md
Wow! Lotta comments on this song. Here's one more: Joe Walsh did the solo in one take. Don Henley - ever the perfectionist - told Joe that was great, but try it again to get it better. Basically, while Don was in the other room having coffee, Walsh and the engineer played the recorded solo back thru the monitors, stopping and restarting a couple of times. Then they played the already-recorded solo back in its entirety, and Henley comes bursting in to tell Joe that the "last take" was the best! Little did he know that he was listening to the first take all along.Ed - Incognito, Il
I heard that Steely Dan and the Eagles used to be one big group before this song. They split because the Eagles wanted to name it Hotel California and Steely Dan wanted to name it the Hostel in California. Man...could you imagine what it would've been like if they had stayed together.Randy - Lexington, Ky
The chord sequence to Hotel California is the same as Chim Chiminey from Mary Poppins!! The former is in B minor, the latter in C minor. Obviously the tempos are different, but you can use the same chords for both songs!John - Guildford, England
In this song theres a decent story, enough chords
and orchestral flavour.
Perhaps the pop song n:r 1 of all times.
It reminds me of the movie "Shine"
Hese - Raahe
This thread is a trip!

I often wondered about the "steely knives" bit. The rest I just figured was drug-induced lyrical writing.

Anyway, one of my favorite song from my childhood. Not much to add other than that. ;)
James - Vidalia, Ga
The "Dark Desert Highway" refers to a bad drug trip (in my opinion). Colitas is definately referring to marijuana, but it is a side note. The "Light" that they refer to is the ultimate high. Many rockers refer to this light. They constantly seek it. Once he sees this light, his "Head grew heavy and his sight grew dim." The thing that many rockers focus on when they sing about drugs is the contrast between the high and the "low". In this song: "I was thinking to myself, this could be heaven or this could be hell."
Another line that supports this theory is "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device," which refers to the feeling of being trapped in an addiction that you and only you trap yourself in. The "Some dance to remember, some dance to forget" line (in my opinion) contrasts the stages of addiction amung the characters of the song. Some do it to get high, some do it to survive.
I love metaphorical music, I'm not a drug addict I promise! It just seems that all of the music from this era can be inturpreted this way. Unlike today, musicians could not flat-out speak of their debauchery, so they used metaphors. It started with Muddy Waters, was copied by the Stones and Beatles, re-invented by Bob Dylan, and killed by the blunt rappers who can say anything and still get on the radio. Regardless of your inturpretation, great song with great poetry. This is my first post by the way, I love this site.
Joe - Charlotte, Nc
There most certainly is a reference to Jackson Browne's first wife in "Hotel California." According to an interview with Don Felder himself in Guitar Player, 1994, the line "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave" is about Phyllis. Here's the link: http://www.eaglesfans.com/info/articles/felder_long_run.htmGabrielle Luthy - Paris, France
I know a guy who claims it is about insanity.Daniel - Cincinnatti, Or
Adam, about that version with Clapton--I have no idea, I've never heard of one, but I'm gonna look that up now because that would be the coolest thing EVER.John - Millersville, Md
this is #1 drivin song!! lol. i'm addicted to this song esp. the acoustic versionAmanda - Pleasanton, Ca
Does anyone know if The Eagles ever did a live show with Eric Clapton, because I have a version of Hotel California that says that it was performed with Clapton. I think that it is just a live show by the Eagles, but I didn't know!
Thanks!
Adam - Lawrencetown, Canada
In my opinion, this song is depicting drug/alcohol addiction. "You can check in anytime you want but you can never leave." I love this song-it is a classic. The time in which it was created and the many drug/alcohol references support this thought.Laura - Memphis, Tn
yeah, umm i really dont think this is about a haunted hotel. lol. wow thats the most rediculous explanation for this song yet. eherm. well just work on that.Meg - Br, La
I like this song a lot, and I have a friend who can play it beautifully on his guitar.Galina - New London, Ct
The play called "No Exit" by Jean-Paul Sartre was written in 1944. I think you all will find some VERY startling comparisons between "Hotel California" and the play. In fact I would go so far as to say "Hotel California" was modelled off the play.

Read it here:
http://www.nyu.edu/classes/keefer/hell/sart.html
Tom - Miami, Fl
I'm pretty sure this was not Henley's intent when writing this, but when listening to it there are some very obvious similarities with Homer's "The Odyssey." It?s been a long time since I read it so I can?t be very specific without confusing a lot of people, but just something to think about.Christopher - Derwood, Md
Cathy in Portland should give this thread to Felder. He could use a good laugh. And Emma in Australia - this song has NOTHING to do with Jackson Browne's first marriage. The song is about what Henley says it is about - the dark side of success in Los Angeles. Nothing more and nothing less. But it's fun to read what folks get out of this song, I must say! Take it easy, everyone.Sally - La, Ca
i heard on the radio many many years ago it was about a famous whore house on the California highway. and years later i heard some were else it burnt down in the 90s his could go on for years thats whey it's such a good songMark - Birmingham, England
wow joseph yours looks fancy. and everyone else: all of you have such good arguments! the weird thing (and pretty cool too, i don't know if they did it on purpose or not) is that it not only can mean a lot of things, but it makes PERFECT SENSE for a lot of things too...i find that different than most songs.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
hi guys, lemme first tell ya that i'm not an avid music fan like many of u must be, and that i listen to songs only occassionally... i frankly don't understand why many guys have made such an unholy fuss over a great song like this one, although the band might have benifited from the publicity... the song's just a way of saying that publicity and fame are not as glamorous as we think, and certainly not desirable if we wanna lead a normal, contented life...Jubin - Pune, India
This song made me become a Don Henley fan...i saw him play "Hotel California" at a Stevie Nicks and Don Henley show this summer... and i was amazed!Rhiannon - Sarver, Pa
cool john! i was raised on steely dan too...and kind of the eagles.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
I agree Irving...and the best part, for me, is that I was raised on Steely Dan and the Eagles (among others), and I never made that connection. Steely knives...it never clicked until I stumbled upon this site a while ago, and hearing that two of my favorite bands were sending messages to each other in some of my favorite songs is too cool.John - Millersville, Md
Great Great song!! I love it.Evie - Groningen
steely dan is awesome. come on, who else puts "turn up the Eagles the neighbors are listening!" in their songs? o yeah and this song is one of the best songs of all time.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
I am a 57 year old female and hotel california has always been my favorite song.
It has fit my mindset so many times during the trials and tribulations of life -better than any other song, ever. Reecently I told my kids (35, 21, 20, and 17) that when they spread my ashes at sea I want them to play hotel california and have everyone sing along. No eulogy-just this song!!
Reatha - Ocean Pines, Md
"I remember De Niro in The last Tycoon. He's got this scene, and he's talking to some other people in his office. He speaks to them: "The door opens...the camera is on a person's feet...he walks across the room...we pan up to the table...he picks up a pack of matches that says 'the such and such club' on it...strikes a match and lights a cigarette...puts it out...goes over to the window...opens the sahed...looks out...the moon is there...what does it mean? Nothing. It's just the movies."
Hotel California is like that. We take this guy and make him like a character in The Magus, where every time he walks through a door there's a new version of reality. We wanted to write a song just like it was a movie. This guy is driving across the desert. He's tired. He's smokin'. Comes up over a hill, sees some lights, pulls in. First thing he sees is a really strange guy at the front door, welcoming him: "Come on in." Walks in, and then it becomes Fellini-esque-strange women, effeminate men, shadowy corridors, disembodied voices, debauchery, illusion...Weirdness. So we thought, "let's really take some chances. Let's try to write in a way that we've never written before."

by the way, what is it with people saying some lyrics are satanic? one mention of drugs, people are convinced it's about the devil. either you like the lyrics or you don't.

btw, if anyone's interested in the band's POV, buy Eagles the best of cd, it has a nifty booklet where the band descbribes the meaning behind the songs, it's great.
Michelle - Anaheim, Ca
'Hotel California' is probably the truest interpretation of the culture in the '70s. It's also The Eagles at their peak. Plus, it has some of the best guitar work ever recorded. and, it's the Eagles for God sakes!Mike - Carrier Mills, Il
i don't understand why everyone believes all of this subleminal message b.s. every rock song is not satanic. i mean who here has really played hotel california backwards? i think it's a great song and i've loved it ever since i can remember.(even though i'm only 13) i love the guitar music and the lyrics are rock and roll magic.:)Melody - Jacksonville, Fl
I think its about a guy in dream land dreaming of "HELL" and what its like down there. CUT AND DRY!!Wayne - Denver, Co
Who gives a flying fatmans butt! its one of the greatest rock and roll songs ever!Garrett - Oklahoma, Pa
The song is outstanding,the music is outstanding and so are all the band members.Rahul - Mumbai, Mi
This thread is sooo funny. I'm gonna have to print it out and give it Don (Felder) I can't stop laughing at some of the comments people have given for the song's meaning. Don will get a laugh out of it too! From my understanding there really isn't a meaning it's left up to the listener's own imagination that's why there are so many different opinions on what it means.Cathy - Portland, Me
The song is about hedenism in the 70's, Hotel California is a metaphor for the west coast music industry promoting talentless artist and introducing a world of unlimited sucess.

This puts the nail in the coffin:

http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/hotel.htm
Steve - Cedar Grove, Nj
This is all very interesting, although to be honest, it's a great song whatever. I've heard everything from it being about a brothel to drugs, and I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter, so long as the song moves you. It can have many different meanings to many different people.

And, as a side note, I just read this post: "I always thought that there was a legendary group of "devil-worshippers" or pagens, they called themself, the Hotel California. A strange interpertation, but I'm sure it has something to do with the devil. - Allan, Greebock, Scotland". Just wanted to say, pagans are NOT necessarily devil worshippers. In fact, depending on what branch of paganism you're referring to, many don't even believe in the devil.

...and now I'll shut up :o)

Taz, UK
Taz - Midlands, England
The comments on this song are funny and WAY out there. For starters, Don Felder was the originator of this song. He wrote all the music for the song with the exception of Joe Walsh's solo and the dual guitar solo, which was co-wrote by Felder and Walsh. Felder brought the music to Henley, who decided they needed to record it. Henley and Frey came up with the lyrics for the song.

According to Henley and Frey, the song was basically was about the dark side of the lifestyle inside of the California music industry. Hotel California is a metaphor for that lifestyle, which the Eagles discovered that once they were immersed in it, they were trapped.
Matt - Santa Rosa, Ca
I reallly like this song, the guitars, drumin, and lyrics make it an all time classic.
the line, "you can check out but you can never leave" means to me that you can kill yourself, your physical body, but your spirit will always be in the game so to speak. We can't exit the game. Although I would like to at times.
Rich - Santa Cruz, Ca
Chris from Milford I think you have summed it up well. Brian from Mayfield, I sooo agree. Tool is the only modern band with that kind of genius and the drumming is something else.
Hotel California is a true classic; I can't be bothered writing every little bit of my interpretation as I can't come close to describing it's intricate detail, but basically to sum it up in a few words I think it says: 'You reap what you sew'..
Elysia - Hamilton, New Zealand
Cripes, I really didn't mean to insult any Californian. The name of the song *did* have California in it. Please don't be touchy. Lots of positive things in that place too - I know that... There are lots of good people and bad people WHEREEVER you go. And in my opinion, some of the most soulful music in America comes from that state, and lot of creativity in general. I base my comments on interviews I have read by Henley. He said the album was basically about Californian lifestyle and mindset, so if there are negative things said, take it up with him. All I meant to do was shed some light on the song's supposed meaning, not slang off anyone.Liquid Len - Ottawa, Canada
Hey there's more to California than excess and materialism, thank you. This song could take place anywhere, it just happens to be set here. Also, the Eagles are not satanic and this is one of the best songs ever written just because there can be so many different interpretations that fit it. Each person can have their own opinion.Paige - San Diego, Ca
This song is about the Californian lifestyle of excess. How it often produces materialism and shallowness. This theme runs through a lot of other songs on the 'Hotel California' album.

'Life in the fast lane' - messed around and got lost / they didn't care they were just dying to get off

'New kid in town' where fame means nothing more than being the flavour of the minute.

'The last resort' about the hidden costs of all the pleasures and material goods.
Liquid Len - Ottawa, Canada
There should be an option on this site to automatically filter out brainwashed moron comments about 'satanic messages'.Liquid Len - Ottawa, Canada
The line 'In the middle of the night, just to hear them say' backwards sounds clearly like 'Satan hears this, he had believe'.
it is not in my opinion that bands like the almighty Led Zeppelin and the Eagles intentionally put subliminal satan messages in their music on purpose, i just think they sound pretty friggin' cool
Danny - Sydney, Australia
This is by far one of the best songs ever written, played, or heard. (Along with Stairway to Heaven and Eruption) I cannot believe some of the assumptions made about this song. Has it ever occurred to you that some of these groups might have just written the song to make a debate? They know exactly what it means and they aren't telling for a reason.
In all honesty, when you think about it, why would Hotel California be satanic?
"My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim"
HELLO?! Drugs people...drugs...it's not hard to figure out...just like Stairway to Heaven has o do with suicide. Hence the name. The Eagles used Hotel California as a setting that posed as a state of mind. Hotel California is the place that people go when they are becoming addicted to drugs. La La land, if you will...in the song it speaks of decision, the feeling of being trapped and trying to escape, all signs of drug addiction. "Some dance to remember, some dance to forget" dancing can be taken as feeling light and away. Forgetting is a common effect of drug use. "Last thing I remember, I was running for the door" obviously trying to escape the addiction. Marriage in California can happen anywhere, it is just stereotyped because of the population and celebrities. Anyone can have marriage problems. Divorce? Same thing. People, stop with the satanic comments! The Eagles are not satanic, and just because they sing about something doesn't mean they participate in it.
Lauren - Morrisville, Mo
Ah. Best SONG! We always jam to this crusing.Kelly - Corpus Christi, Tx
I see the symbolism in the song, and it really does point out key things that seem to be problem even today. But personally, when I hear the song, and that liquifying riff sweeps over me, I cannot help be think of the afterlife. And when you listen to lyrics, the song just seems to speak in a seperate voice. Very few songs have such power over people, the eagles really did something magical when they finished Hotel Californa...Stone - Libertyville, Il
Just a side note: The Presidio of Monterey in California where the Army has the Defense Language Institute is nicknamed the "Hotel California" by the men & women who serve and have served there. Just about everyone on the post is in military intelligence (I know all about the oxymoron) and they are not your "typical soldiers" and POM/DLI is not your typical post (ie. no gates, no marching, etc.). The whole experience of being stationed there is kind of surreal and not indicative of "noramalcy" in military life (if there is such a thing). The nickname is apt. It's just another example of how this song can mean so many different things to so many different people, I think that's what makes it great. I just wonder if the Eagles knew what they were putting out there when the wrote and recorded it.Cory - Abilene, Tx
1. To "A" from Tucson: The Gipsy Kings didn't write or record "Hotel California" first. The Gipsy Kings didn't even put out their first record til 1987, a full decade after the release of "Hotel California".
2. My two cents on "HC": I believe that one has to consider the entire album to derive the meaning of the song "HC". The song "HC" serves as an all-encompassing intro to what the rest of the album is about; the California lifestyle, the recording industry, drugs, sex, greed, religion, shamans as prophets, the environment and of course, love (what would an Eagles album be without a love song or two?) Track One, "Hotel California", sets you up for tracks Two through Nine...it's called exposition. Of course, this is not gospel, just my thoughts.
Paul - Baltimore, Md
I always thought that there was a legendary group of "devil-worshippers" or pagens, they called themself, the Hotel California.
A strange interpertation, but I'm sure it has something to do with the devil.
Allan - Greebock, Scotland
I have listened to Hotel California for as long as I can remember, and after much deliberating I have come to the opinion that Hotel California is about marriage & suicide.
Jackson Brown is a close friend of the Eagles, and his wife killed herself in the spring of 1976. It is believed that he met her around 1969- hence the line---------> "we haven't had that spirit here, since 1969".
Jackson Brown wrote many of the Eagles songs, and I believe that Hotel California is about his marriage to Phyllis Major.
The very lines in the song-------->
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
Describes how he met his first wife Phyllis. The song then skips ahead a few months to when Phyllis & Jackson Browne are getting married, and he describes his uncertainity as he says "I heard the mission bell, and I was thinking to myself this could be heaven or this could be hell".
The chorus then skips to the present, with Jackson Browne remembering Phyllis.
It then jumps backwards, where he expresses how being married to Phyllis isnt how he imagined. "Her mind is Tiffany twisted
She's got the Mercedes bends
She's 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".
The next few lines in the song are crucial, he says "So I called up the Captain, please bring me my wine. He said we haven't had that spirit here since 1969". This reflects back to when he and Phyllis first met, and how it was everything he ever wanted, then it changed.
"And still those voices are calling from far away wake you up in the middle of the night just to hear them say..." These lyrics talk about Jackson dreaming of his wife Phyliss, and seeing her in his dreams, after she had passed.
"Mirrors on the ceiling
Pink champagne on ice
And she said
We are all just prisoners here
Of our own device" -------> These lyrics talk about suicide, and how we all are really just prisoners of our own device, and how some can break away from it and others can't.
The final lyrics in the song--------->
"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 nightman
We are programed to recieve
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave"
Particularly the "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave" lyric refers once again to suicide, and how even once you have committed suicide, you still haven't really escaped. You live on in the hearts of those you left behind, and even though suicide seemed like the only escape, you still didn't leave.

The whole theme of the suicide/marriage of Jackson Browne to Phyllis Major really fits. Just read the lyrics and you will understand how it fits.
Emma - Melbourne, Australia
Alicia (Lakeville).....thanks for your input....never saw that coming......Sanjeev - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Well seems odd but myself, being rather dumb when taking meaning from lyrics though this was about a haunted hotel.
"On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air "
Just descirbing setting

"Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light " When he was driving and doing some drugs he saw a place up ahead

"My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night "
After all the drugs he had to stop and sleep

"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"
I don't know what this has to do witha haunted hotel

"Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way "
Person showing him his room

"There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...
Welcome to the Hotel California "
Ghosts in the haunted hotel talking to him.

I am not very good with lyrics. This is just what I quickly thought. This song was sung before I was born and I think it is brilliant.
Mike - Winnipeg, Canada
I think everyone is ignoring the line "LAST thing I remember..." which sort of gives us an idea about what finally happened to the main character, i.e. either he lost consciousness or something like that. Also, the line just before it "Just can't kill the beast" is the most unpleasant line in the song and tells that this character saw some gruesome act which motivated him to flee from the place.Tushar - Baroda, India
Colitas means tails in spanish which is slang for ass.Mike - Kitchener, Canada
I'm a medical Platoon Leader in Iraq. We call our Barracks the Hotel California. It houses the Medics Mortars and Scout. We have had more wounded and killed than any other section in our unit. All of those men have checked out, but they will never truely leave here. They will always be remembered staying in The Hotel. We have stabbed the enemy with our steely knives, but we still haven't killed that beast.Doug - Ramadi, Iraq
Most of you guys are clearly way off and confused. This song is about the church of satan. The church of satan is a converted HOTEL located on CALIFORNIA street in downtown SF. read the lyrics. It's all relating to satanic rituals, and his experience getting mixed up in that kind of place. Although, it is not glorifying satan, it still is staying on this topic. Also, Anton Lavey, (the founder of the church of satan) is inside of the album cover.Zack - St. Louis, Mo
I think that it's a man trying to get out of a relationship that he's stuck in while using drugs and alcohol to cure his problem. He has a woman that is so manipulative and addicting that he cannot pull away. She is the Hotel California.Chantall - Pasadena, Ca
This is #49 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.Ross - Independence, Mo
please man this song rocksEddie - Petaluma, Ca
My dads one of those old, people who listened to Alooottttt of music, and wont get rid of the 1800 records they have, which i cna understand, but my dad read somewhere that, the guy wrote this song about a friend who was addicted to cocaine.. it fits the lyrics if you think about it.. who knows..Jodi - Uvalde, Tx
Also, my friends and I used to think the "spirit" that hasn't been around since 1969 was because that is the year the N.Y. Mets won the World Series. Could it be for Woodstock?Bill - Southeastern Part Of, Fl
The song 'Hotel California' tells us about a man who was caught an odd closed society of mysterious men.
At first it is difficult to understand what that society is. You feel free and easy there. But soon you realize the society is cruel, phony and even malicious and hostile, because it never lets go of you. You must submit your soul and will to strange and cruel rituals and laws.
The song's hero understands that this 'lovely place' is just a screen in order to entice people to the trap.
The song doesn't give us a response what happens with the main hero in the future. But I think he'll manage to leave that sweet deceptive 'Hotel California'.
Anry - Jerusalem, Israel
"Warm smell of colitas," huh? I always thought it was colitis (inflammation of the colon) and that the "warm smell" was that of flatulence. Go figure.Bill - Southeastern Part Of, Fl
I always thought that this song was about a cultSkuli - Brookfield, Wi
In the song there are lyrics that say "You may check out, but you can't ever leave." Which sounds to me like this song is about drugs and how you can try to stop at one time, but you never can truly stop.Drew - Bethalto, Il
and i agree with kevin from grand prairie texas that pop and rap do need to be outlawed and that if you dont write the music or at least play an instrument it shouldnt be considered msuic i mean please its not talent to just talk about sex, drugs, and "gangstas"(rap)and well some pop "artists" can sing and maybe dance but that means nothing and the music businesses are just bringing anybody into music these days not that i have been around for more than 15 years but its rediculous.

i have no idea when they decided that these people have "talent" it saddens me and non of eagles songs could be "over" played but htey can be played alot
just my opinion
well theory actually
hehe :)
Meagan - Baton Rouge, La
i dont know about the theory from joseph but its really good is very creative. i think its a damn good explanation for this song and if the eagles would have read that they would have been impressed. i think this song is really great. i know it by heart and was dying to know what the hell it meant. the eagles are my favorite band. i have one of their dvds (hell freezes over) great cd and dvd and hotel california is one of the songs that made me want to look into the eagles more. even though desperado is my favorite song. i also heard of teh rumor about hotel california being a satanist church but i beleive it is just a metaphor of course. i get very excited when i hear the beginning of this song. its very beautiful and i would never turn it off if i heard it. this song is really great and the newer music these days i agree with some of the comments dont have deep meanings and i love trying to figure out lyrics. i also agree that this is a song that you can make your own and give it w/e meaning you want. like ive seen from the other comments there are alot of reasonable meanings to this song and i love seeing what other people think and seeing if they think anything like me. in this song i kinda thought he died in the beginning and had gone to hell or somthing like that. well anyways my long winded prays for the eagles is finally ending and i have to admit that eagles music gives me butterflys. and i will definatly stick to the classics :DMeagan - Baton Rouge, La
this song weirds me outAshley - Moncton, Canada
I don't think that you can force one interpretation on a song like this. I think if it really was about something specific, they would have made it more obvious. Hotel California is too open-ended to simply be about one particular thing. There are a lot of good interpretations that fit well, in addition to some odd ones (guys playing with hair?), but I think that the lyrics are more general. It could just be about how many different opportunities there are in life and how once one thing happens, you can never change it and go back to how you were before, no matter how much you try. This is why so many things fit into this song (such as marriage and drug addiction), but everyone is overanalyzing it.Paige - San Diego, Ca
this is the best song ever it can mean almost anythign you want it toRyan - Shelby, Il
This song is a worthy topic of discussion. It's fascinating the sort of things people can come up with when faced with a challenge. I read on another website, I believe, that a man who had been childhood friends with Don Henley had been told that the entire Hotel California album, including this song, is about the California record industry at the time. It's hard to even believe band members on this type of subject, however. Regardless, as a 16-year-old, it saddens me that no song in my life time will ever rival the greatness of the eagles. Magnificent sounds in this song, everytime it comes on I hear it playing I just have to stop and take it in.John - Millersville, Md
We are all just prisoners here in our money-oriented lives. We can check out any time we like, but we can never leave (we say we can change, but we really can't...this savage beast of greed keeps pulling us in).
California, Pink Champagne, Mercedes -- symbols of wealth and status.
As I see it, this song really is about materialism. But seriously...does it really matter what the song's about? It's awesome...my favourite song of all time, and I love it no matter what we decide it means.
Aylin - Montreal, Canada
this song is truly awesome. it could mean so many different things. i believe this song is about the satanistic church. Hotel California was what satanists used to refer to their meeting place. they had to say it in code so that they could keep it a secret. when he says " they can sharpen their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast," he was talking about Satan. Satan cannot die because he is a spirit. also when he said, "you can check out, but you can never leave," he was saying that you can't leave the satanistic church because once you join you are bound by it for the rest of your life. i believe he was warning people to stay out of the satanistic church, because it will forever rule your life.Amber - Mazon, Il
I personally think it's about hell.Aj - Cleveland, Ga
Don Felder said that the first time he came to the studio after he joined the Eagles that he thought he had joined a band in disintegration -- everybody yelling at everyone else. It took him some time to realize, he said, that with the Eagles nothing was more important that the song the proper arrangement & Production. That's why he took the guitar chords to Henley & Frey and let them work it out -- they were the masters.Andy - Chattanooga, Tn
an all time classic :D:DSam - Beirut, Other
I've read all of the interpretations, and they're all great. It could be about marriage, materialism, cancer, drugs, getting high, addiction, sex, or whatever you want it to be about. All of the interpretations apply to the song in some way or another. I always thought that the line "You can check out anytime like, but you can never leave" was reference to the Church of Satan, and that the line "We haven't had that spirit her since 1969> was a reference to Woodstock. The comments are great though.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
what great comments my head is spinning though, because there are so many enterpretations. Really, it could be about whatever you want ot to be. I've been reading all of the interpretations and they're great. It could be about materialism, drugs, marriage, cancer, hell, a mental hospital... whatever you interpret it to be about. I can completely see why it would be about Charles Manson and his murders,especially because of the line "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave."Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
No. the eagles were Linda ronstat's back-up band. Not Janice Joplin's. Joplon's back-up band was Big brother And the holding company.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
I always thought this song was about Janis Joplin. After all the Eagles were her band. Lines in the song like "Shes got the Mercades benz" certinly support the theory. Mercades was a Janis Joplin song and the benz is an illness dealing with heroin which Joplin was addicted to.Jared - Clarendon, Ar
I was always told that the Hotel California is now a prison drug rehabiltaton center in Norco (Southern Cal), California. It actually has tunnels ect all underneath of it, which is from the "Al Capone" days. Gangsters always had used these under ground tunnels, & they usually ran a good ways under the cities in order to execute their pans & as a way of escapeDebra - Hilo, Hi
at 3 minutes 29 second the song actually STOPS.

this was the producer cutting the tape and adding a blank part in.
Matt - Cardiff, Wales
"...When he sees an oppertunity to stop, he takes it, because it is now impossible from him to go on." Chris, Milford, MI

No, he stopped because he was tired. Sometimes people don't realize how tired they are until they spot an opportunity to rest. And then "his head grew heavy and his sight grew dim..."

This song has been analyzed to such an extreme that it is made out to be more than it really is. I agree that Hotel California was created in tribute to Steely Dan, but there is little more
to it in terms of content. Pleasant, floating lyrics throughout, reminiscent of the mysterious smell of colitas "rising up through the air" which set the tone at the beginning. Scents incite powerful associations in our minds, and in this case it was evidently associated with some expectation drawing us onward until we find the mysterious "presence" lurking behind the association. At this point, he was satisfied to rest at last.

Probably the overall "air" of mysteriousness to the song was designed to purposely incite comments, and in that sense the song was definitely a masterpiece. Rock fans have been puzzling over lyrics since the beginning of the genre, and rock artists sometimes take advantage of this fact. "The Walrus was Paul." The Beatles were a prime example of a rock band that loved to insert mysterious lines into their lyrics: "Everybody's got one" -- or was it "everybody smoke pot"? The first mysterious Rock lyric references were to sex, not drugs. "Good golly, Miss Molly, you sure like to ball!" But not every reference has to be to sex or drugs. Sometimes,
as in the case of Hotel California, it has a more innocent and poetic meaning. The Eagles were artists, not sex and drug peddlers. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar, and in this case a colita is just a flower (as Chris from Milford said).
Mal - Hotel, Ca
Shell, Toronto, Canada: I don't agree that this (or Stairway to Heaven) is overplayed at all. I mean, I can't go one day without hearing this song... maybe that's just a little obsessive... but that's just me.Wilfred - Melbourne, Australia
Alright, this song is OBVIOUSLY about DRUGS. To begin, "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" This is talking about how he is taking the drug. The smell is of colitas which means cola...hummm. Cola like COKE/COCAINE? One of the effects of drugs may be hallucination (seeing the lights). To continue, his sight may grow dim because of the smoke or simply as an effect to the drug. "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'" This is talking about how the drug (personified as a woman) is calling to him. Hearing the mission bell symbolizes being called...like to church. In this case, the drug is calling to him. He was thinking that it might be heaven or hell. Obviously, he may feel good from taking the drug or it may have negative effects on him. "Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way" This is the act of the man lighting up. "There were voices down the corridor, I thought I heard them say...Welcome to the hotel california, Such a lovely place. Such a lovely face." This is referring to the beginning of his addiction. He is beginning to become addicted to it. It looks good from the outside. Everyone seems happy and the initial feeling is good. "Plenty of room at the hotel california. Any time of year, you can find it here" There is room for anybody in addiction. ANYBODY can begin an addiction such as this. Since it IS an addiction, it will be there forever. "Her mind is tiffany-twisted, she got the mercedes bends" The Mercedes Bends are the effects of Cocaine as told by Andy a while ago. "She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends" The she is still referring to cocaine and a lot of good looking people us it. "Some dance to remember, some dance to forget" Some of them are using the drug to remember "the good old days" while others are using it to forget about their pain. "And still those voices are calling from far away, Wake you up in the middle of the night Just to hear them say...[into chorus]" Alright, the man often wakes up in the middle of the night hearing "voices" which are really cravings for cocaine. Which then leads into the chorus which is about the addiction welcoming him. "What a nice surprise, bring your alibis" Everyone has their own excuse for using it. "Mirrors on the ceiling, The pink champagne on ice...They gathered for the feast They stab it with their steely knives..." Alright, pink champagne first of all is a slang term for cocaine. Mirrors on the celing...the mirrors are reflection the celing. Therefore, this is talking about when they place the cocaine on little mirrors and cut through it with those little knives. To continue, they are gathered for the feast, they are about to smoke cocaine! "But they just can't kill the beast" The "beast" is the addiction! They can't kill it even though they are stabbing the drug. To go back to "And she said 'we are all just prisoners here, of our own device'" They are prisoners or trapped by this addiction by their own doing. The each got themselves into this situation. "Last thing I remember, I was running for the door. I had to find the passage back to the place I was before." The man is trying to break from this addiction. He is trying to RUN away from it and find the place he was before meaning before he took the drug. Lastly, "You can checkout any time you like,but you can never leave!" This is talking about how although they may "checkout" or get out of the "hotel" or state of addiction, they are never going to be able to leave it or fully get rid of it. They will continue to come back for more. Let me know what you think.
Laura - St. Louis, Mo
The Mercedes Bends are the effects of Cocaine or Heroine. "in the distance, i saw a shimmering light" "My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night" "this could be heaven or this could be helL". This suggests that he crashed on the motorway and the shimmering light was because he had died - heaven or hell is self explanatory. The Hotel California was a limbo after you have died. "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave"Andy - London, England
i always thought hotel calif. as a rehab place, much like the betty ford center. i guess, maybe, i was wrong.
still a great song.
a afvorite of mine since 1984.
Andrew - Ny, Ny
yeh, well, I'm drinkin my wine now. Anyway, I am learning to play the song, and it is a great pleasure...and a challenge. I love it. Anyway, it was always assume ed that Hotel California was a jail and the cognitive affect of "Mercedes Bends, UH" and "dance in the court yard, sweet summer sweat, so me dance to remember, some dance to forget" does conjure fantasies of prision life. Especially "stab it with their steely knives...kill the beast". Well, um, "the beast" opens a religious can o worms. Anyway, my humble impression of the song is that a tripped-out musician checks into a hotel in California, and relates his experiences thereof. Great song, I will continue to practice and love playing it.Dahvid - Silver Spring, Or
alrighty, i know everyone has different opinions as to where the song is referring to, but the truth is "hotel california" is about Baja California. The southern tip of mexico has the hotel located in Todos Santos, it is not more than an hour from popular vacation spot Cabo San Lucas. also, The Eagles have a shop across the street entitled "Tequila Sunrise", they sell their authorized clothing and assc. there. well hope that clears stuff up.Laura - Ellicott City, Md
Heh, maybe it's about a guy who has just got divorced so he goes into a whore house and gets high --- on drugs and sex. Just a thought.Ethan - Franklin, Wi
This one is right up there with "Stairway to Heaven" as the most overplayed "classic rock" ditty ever.Shell - Toronto, Canada
To further add to the already IMMENSE list of possible lyrical interpretations for this classic song, the lyrics "please bring me my wine" and "we haven't had that spirit here since 1969" have also received much scrutiny by anti-rock 'n roll "Bible-thumping" fundamentalists, claiming that the "wine" refers to the Biblical analogy that Christ was the "WINE of life". Because that "spirit" hadn't been there "since 1969" seems to give creedence to the facts as stated above by Joel (from FL) after the occultists took over the abandoned Hotel Californica in 1969. In a nutshell, after 1969, Christ was out - and now the devil was in!" - rr at least that's what some would believe. The mysticism, imagery, and potiential symbolisms of lyrics such as these, along with references to "can't kill the Beast" , "check out any time you like, but you can never leave" has long given much interpretative fodder right-wing opponents of this song.Dave - Marieta, Ga
I'm not really old enough to know this but my mother says that back idk when but maybe 60s or 70s their was a satanic hotel dubbed Hotel California i was wondering if this holds any water seeing how the song does mention things that are kinda out there.Scott - Middletown, You Know Tmi,, Pa
one of the best songs ever...everybody seems to know this and i believe it's about drugs. my friends played an instrumental of this song and people started yelling because of amazemen! it's so overwhelming. i did the solo part of joe walsch. and the fans liked it when i did the fret noise!!! we were like the eagles in their hell freezes over concert!!! EAGLES ROXXX!!!Noli - Manila, Other
In my opinion I believe that the song is about the dangers of materialisim and greed. Once we have entered into the cycle of greed we become corrupt and find it difficult to break out. The Hotel California is an embodiment of greed given that Hollywood is in the state of California. Calforina is often used to symbolise greed, materialisim and westernisation. Indeed, take Californication by the Red Hot Chili peppers for example.J-o-n-a-than - Petersfield, England
For goodness sakes...HC is not about drugs.
The warm smell of colitas is marijuana, silly ones! That is the biggest drug reference in the whole song.
And DON HENLEY sings on HC.
What a great song. What a great band.
Mary - Upstate, Ny
great job guys, there are a lot of interesting ideas here.. for those of you who'd like to listen to more interpretive songs, try analyzing Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin), virtually all the work of Pink Floyd and the Backstreet Boys' songs.. kidding! Pink Floyd are great when it comes to different meaning for lyrics.. and im NOT talking about The Wall, but mostly their early works..Hiba - Beirut, United States
anyone notice the similarity between the chord progression in the verses and the verses in bob dylan's ballad of a thin man?G-string Guy - Bombay, Other
The song is all about drugs. "You can check out but never leave" It is refferring to the withdrawl from drugs. You get hooked on it and you can try to stop but it would be so much easier to just continue with the drugs rather than to try to stop.Bill - Groveland, Fl
This song gives me goosebumps every time I hear it! It seems to be a metaphor for everything in my life (mostly spirituality vs. worldy life in general). I feel the contrast between what I'm doing and where I am, and how it seemed good when I got into it, but now I just want out (can be drugs, relationships, my job). One of my favorite lines is "Some dance to remember, some dance to forget" (no reason, just like it). Also, here is just ANOTHER interpretation of the line "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" - I grew up on a spiritual path and we have a spiritual Master (like a guru) and we have gatherings to meditate together, with the goal of meditation to be purifying your mind (i.e. killing the beast)which is very hard and may take lifetimes to achieve. Again, that is what I think about sometimes when I hear the song, but I am sure is not really what is meant by that line!
I also wanted to mention that I find the comment referencing the song to marriage to be extremely logical and well thought out, and all the lyrics fit perfectly with this metaphor, as described by Joseph from Atlanta (scroll to the very bottom of the screen to find this comment).
Nani - Ashland, Or
Cool song, definatly NOT about drugs!Derek - Carmel, In
Made a recent trip to the Hotel.. very remote.. grew up listening to the group..not much question now that Henley was at the hotel in Todos Santos.. the Mission of Santa Rosa de Todos Santos is right down the street... not much else out there between La Paz and Los Cabo. Dark desert.. cool wind.. desert right up to the Pacific at that village.. not many lights at night either...and besides not a place to travel at night.....the hotel has a history as does this peer group... think that this song is a good symbolic allusion of the interwoven threads of drug, sex and rock and roll! (The theme song of the times with California being the mecca so to speak!) Song also provocative in portrail of the continual tension of 'establishment' vs. 'socially conscious, self expressing' andBonnie - Puyallup, Wa
i have my theory about this song, but it might be way too advanced for ordinary people to understand.
i'm telling you guys, but don't tell anyone.
this song is probably about 2 guys in pajamas, playing with eachother's hair.
Gustave - Gatineau, Canada
"Hotel California", in my humble opinion, is one of the greatest rock songs ever. It means different things to different people. Only The Eagles know the true meaning of this great song. -Lonnie, Katy, TXLonnie - Katy, Tx
Look close in album spread on balcony u can see satanic priest himself Anton Lavey. Spoky stuff and yes the whole song is about drugs.Sack - Arlington, Tx
"you can check out but never leave" is another example of the drug theory as addiction never leaves youDean - Bangkok, Thailand
YOU ARE ALL WRONG!
It's means nothing.. it's like an episode of the Twilight Zone they were using joke sculptures.

Here is a quote from Glen Frey on this website:
http://www.eaglesmusic.com/HotelCal/hc.html

I quote: "What happened with Hotel California was Don Felder, the under rated genius guitar player in our band and he did not have the name of Joe Walsh, but definitely just an incredible player.

He used to make instrumental demos at his house and on a tape of about seven ideas, was what was to become the track of Hotel California.

And Don and I heard the tape and said gosh... this is like a Spanish Reggae Rock, this is really a bizarre mix of musical influences, this is great.

At the time we were also quite fond of Steely Dan and listening to a lot of their records. And one of the things that impressed us about Steely Dan was that they would say anything in their songs and it did not have to necessarily make sense you know, they would just, sort of...they called it jokes sculpture..

And well we thought of this Hotel California, we started thinking of there would be very cinematic to do it, sort of like the Twilight Zone. You just have a ..., one line says there is a guy on the highway, you know the next line says there is a hotel in the distance, then there is a woman in there and she walks in. You know it is sort..., it is just all one shot, not necessarily you know, just sort of strong together and you sort of draw your own conclusions from it.

So we are sort of trying to expand our lyrical horizons and just try to take out something in the bizarre as Steely Dan did that."
Antares - Uk, England
The eagles won for Hotel CA in 1977, not 78:
GRAMMY Category Record Of The Year
Year 1977 - 20th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Title of the Work Hotel California
Artist Performing Work Eagles
Ed McMann
Ed - Boston, Ma
I think this is one of the best songs ever written. It has very many different interpretations. I have read a lot of them and I think they all are very well thought out. It's just one of those songs you can listen to with different meanings for everyone that let's you escape reality for a moment or two.John - Stephenville Crossing, Canada
I have my own theories as to what hotel California means. (most are my own sectrate for now). But one possible meaning that not many or no people have thought of yet is that it is about vietnam.Karl - Portland, Or
i love how there are so many different interpretations to this song. it could be that there is not one true meaning.. i dont know. but i REALLY wish that more songs could be written like this one.Randi - Linton, Me
hey ppl, don't write such long comments cuz most ppl don't read them, they're more likely 2 read your thoughts and facts, etc., if u keep it a lil more brief or separate the info in2 a few different entries. just a thought... :-)Natasha - Chico, Ca
By the way it was Don Henley who sang lead, to answer your question, Sir Charlie of Connecticut. Rock onIan - Marlboro, Nj
please tell me someone, WHICH DON WAS THE LEAD SINGER! im confusedCharlie - Thomaston, Ct
All rock bands here in the Philippines knows and plays the song. People knows a band's good if they can play Hotel of California, otherwise, the band sucks!!!Baden Darwin - Town Of Bolinao,philippijnes, Other
Alrite some of you are way wrong and some of you are right. The song is about drug addiction. I have seen noone mention another thing, the spoon. sponn plus candle equals can anyone guess? HEROIN!!! You use a spoon to hold it and a candle to melt it. Which brings me to my next point, whoever said it was heroin was correct. stabbing it with their steely knives is exactly that. And Hotel California was in LA, and was exactly everything they say, a brothel, drug place, and heaven or hell. We all have our own. And those of you who have only heard the song and think research on the internet will give the answer are way way wrong. Remember people only The Eagles can say what this song is about. But everyone has found different opinions.Oso - La, Ca
at the time of this song's popularity, the phrase "Hotel California" became a nickname for Cook County Jail in Chicago because it's on California street, and especially because of the line "we're all just prisoners here, of our own device." The name stuck, and To this day, people of all ages, races, and musical interests call it "Hotel California".Jesse - Chicago, Il
Whether this song is about drugs or marriage or the entertainment industry, I think it has some commonality with all of them. It is about being in darkness, drawn to a promise, immersed in a way of life that provides no escape, yearning for escape, and realizing that there is no returning to the lost innocense of the darkness and the desert when we could have continued on a different path. This scenario can be applied to many things in life, and many of us have had personal experiences for which these lyrics ring true. For me, the line "we are all just prisoners here of our own device" reminds me that we control our own destiny, but often imprison ourselves in a way of life from which we can't see an escape. I've also wondered if, in fact, "California" is an allusion to the mythic island of the same name, said to be inhabited by Amazon women.Cathy - Lake Hopatcong, Nj
IMHO, it's simply one of the most popular (though not the best) works of art of all time.Precy - Angeles , Other
Hotel California is the best song ever, IMHO. In order to understand it we should understand and put the song into the context of what was going on with the band at those days: Money (lots of!), drugs (?!), sex, and overall sucess to a level that was well beyond their own understanding and control. Hotel California is thus one nice and well devised interpretation for what is going on with the band at that time. Simple like this.Claudiano - Sao Jose Campos, Brazil
geez chris i guess u got a lot of free time... or just a fast typer. Anyway this is the first rock song i fell in love with when i was 7. I never knew it was a rock song until i was 12 just 1 year ago. From that point on i have been listening to rock. I only knew this awsome song by the awsome lyrics and guitar solo.Vincent - Los Angeles, Ca
This is one of the most overanalized songs in rock and roll history, and you are all entitled to your opinions. But i think this song is the Eagles response to California and their superior attutude. "Relax said the night man, we are programmed to recive". I think this line makes it all clear. hollywood thinks they can controll everything, and Hotel California is The Eagles rebeling telling Hollywood that they are wrong.Andrew Smith - Hayward, Ca
Hello, this is Chris, I wrote a rather lengthy interpertation of the song around the bottom of the page. Before I say anything else, I want to say that Hotel California is one of the most wonerful songs ever written because of how open ended it is, it is possible to draw many different conclusions to what the song means, but recently a lot of people have said a lot of things about the song, and the song's meanings that have not been supported with any kind of proof. I think it would be prudent not to dispell some of the more less well founded of these. Having an opinion about anything is fantastic, but simply stating it, without giving proof is simply a waste of time. I am not trying to undermine anyone. 1. Colita does not mean Cigarette Butt. Colitas however is a common word for Cigarette, but you will probably only find this used in Spain, not Mexico. As it pretains to this song Colita proably refers to the Desert Flower. The other reason I say this, is that I have never heard anyone refer to the smell of cigarette butts as "warm". (Source: http://www.googlism.com/what_is/c/colitas/) 2. I have heard support that the Hotel is supposed to be a Brothel and that the song is about STDS, but the major lacking factor to that it may be a brothel is the fact that sex is never mentioned. It is however clear that there is supposed to be extascty in the air, but not of the sexual kind. 3. This is the first I have heard of the song being about Charles Manson, but as I said, the song is very open-ended. 4. One of the interpertations of the song, written by someone whom did not leave a name, more like a social outlash of how we are programmed to be... skeptical. I think that if you take the song at face value, it comes off as being easy listening, but the choice of lyrics obviously show that the song is not meant to be just a set of nice chords. 5. Suzanne has a very interesting view on the song, but I think that it is more of an alternate way to look at the song then what the song means. I believe the SINGLE most important line of the song is, "We are all just prisioners here, of our own device" followed by "'Relax' said the Nightman, 'We are programmed to Recieve. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.'" I believe that Suzanne's suggestion misses out on how important those lines are to the imprisionment that those words hold. Not only that you have made a mistake, but there is absouletly no way for you to get away from it. Celeberities get married and divoce very commonly, however, an addiction will eat you alive. 6. A, from AZ said that the song was orginally written by the Gipsy Kings. The ironic thing is how wrong this is. The Gipsy Kings were nor formed until 1979 Arles, France (source: http://www.mp3.com/Gipsy-Kings/artists/2753/biography.html) which is very odd, because the release date for Hotel California, the Album was 1976, three years before the Gyspy Kings were even formed. The spanish version of the song was recorded around 1998, when it was put onto the Big Lebowski soundtrack, which was released in 1998. As far as I know, this version of the song did not exist before 1998. 7. SOl, Dallas, TX asked what "The Warm smell of Colitas" exactly refered to. a Colita is a desert flower, and it is often refered to as having a sensual aroma. 8.---- I have to say that I really do not like the way people try to associate this "Hotel" with Heaven, because it is said that this is no place that he really wants to be. He is trying to escape. Listen to the begining of the song, he is wandering down a a dark desert road, and then, when he sees a light, it is impossible for him to go on. Let me translate this. As I see it, the dark desert road implies that he is lost, he is just dirving, to get away. When he sees an oppertunity to stop, he takes it, because it is now impossible from him to go on. His vision is dimmed, his head is heavy, he needs to stop for the night, just one night. He is drawn in by a beautiful woman, he watches everyone else in their extacy, but it is not really beautiful at all because of why they are doing it. He then tells us more in depth how beautiful everything is. He has gone on in each verse about how beautiful this and everything in it is... but there is a dark side, We are all Prisioners? they stab it with their steely knives, but they can not kill the beast? Notice how dark everyhting just got? Stabing themselves with knives (Steely leads me to believe they are hpyodermic needles), they are prisioners, they are trying to kill a beast! This place was supposed to be so beautiful, but here is this terribly dark side. He tries to escape, but it is impossible now. ----------------- Check out my orginal post, it is the 20th from the bottom. I have supported my meaning with just about every lyric from the song. A lot of people Also like Joseph's thoughts on the song, personally, I think his logic is a bit off (example: "Some native Spanish speakers mentioned that colitas is the diminutive feminine plural of the Spanish cola, tail. Little tail. Looking for a little . . . Hmmm" It is sad how much crap this is. What he has done is taken two completly different definitions and combine them. For proof check out: http://www.googlism.com/what_is/c/colitas/ The two uses of the word are on the same page, but have no relation to each other. It seems like Joseph is trying too hard to make the lyrics form what he wants them to.) Anyway, have a great time with the song, it is truly fantastic.Chris - Milford, Mi
first--guys stop writing those upsurdly long comments--no one reads them---second its about a bothel---it makes so mcuh senseRosa - Cleveland, Oh
Joseph, YOU ARE A GENIOUS!!!!!!! I would have never thought of that. A great concept and I think that it works out perfectly! You are a musical great in my mind!Eric - New Palestine, In
I think a few of you (Joseph) are digging way too deep on this one. If you think about it, you can interpret almost anything to mean whatever you want it to. ?Hit Me Baby One More Time? by Britney Spears could be about spousal abuse if you use all these theories that some of you have made up. This song has arguably the most ingenious lyrics ever, but they mean simply what they mean. This song is about America and its obsession with material things and excess especially in the entertainment industry. The very poignant line of "Her mind is Tiffany twisted, she got the Mercedes Bends" is the best line ever written. It is a play on words that clearly means Tiffany jewelry and fancy cars are what this woman thinks is important. Enjoy the song for the brilliant masterpiece that it is both lyrically and musically and stop over-analyzing the hell out of it!Shea - Atlanta, Ga
This song is about drugs,plain and simple.The part where it says "you can stab them with your steely knfe but you just cant kill the beast". That means you can shoot your self up with drugs but the beast of temptation will never die. This is a very powerful song of someone who was a herion addict. It is so clear that it is about drugs.Debbie - Winthrop, Ma
There is a "Hotel California" beside the Santa Monica Pier in California...My husband and I were walking up the alley way on the side of the hotel from the beach..Joe Walsh was walking right on by when my husband noticed him. The song could be about alot of things but Im thinking they just grabbed the name from this particular hotel...Just my opinionRobyn - Apache Junction, Az
I always thought that "You can check out any time you like but you can never leave" refers to death as the only escape ("check out" as in, die), and that you cannot just quit (the lifestyle, or the drugs, whatever you interpret).Anonymous
This song is about Charles Manson, the Manson member and the Tate-LiBianca murders in Bel Air in 1969. The hotel on the cover is the Beverly Hills Hotel which is located right next door to Hell, Bel Air, where the murders took place. The Hotel itself, in the song Hotel California is not a real one. The Claifornia in Hotel California is the street the Church of Satan is located on in San Fransico. Read the lyrics very carefully and you will see the references to Manson, the year, being programmed, stabbing, lighting candles, as they had no electricity at Barkers ranch, and how you could check into the family but you could never leave. Dark desert highway up to Barkers Ranch. The song speaks of the last thing I remember I was running for the door, after the the stabbing, finding a paase back to the place I was before, getting back to Spnahn ranch. Warm smell of colitas, Sharon's body after the stabbing. Her mind is tiffany twisted, Tiffany's is the best stuff, and Susan Atkins wasm in Charlies mind the and most twisted. She's got Mercedes 'Bends'. The bends is not a misprint. They are referring to a curvy female body and not a car. Susan Atkins was a shapely women in 1969. Susan also danced at Anton Lavey Church of Satan on California Street in San Fransico. There is also a hidden backwards message within the song talking about Satan. Google search the title for more information. And now you know!Don - Toronto, Canada
This is obviously a very well written and constructed song. Not many have come even close to matching it... The 70's started a music breakthrough with bands such as Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Eagles. Heavy metal does hold many good bands today though for sure. Mudvayne is one good songwriting group that have earned their keep. Cool thing is the Eagles do show what music really is meant to be...now we've got so much horrible crap out there just looking for fame and money haha makes me sick. If it were up to me i would outlaw rap/pop in a second. Since when do you just get famous for trying to be cool and not even writting ur own stuff-stuff that sucks as it is?? Keep music real-Support it!!Kevin - Grand Prairie, Tx
This song always reminds me of an old French art film I saw last year. The movie was called "Last Year At Marienbad", and was about a man who, apparently, had an affair with a woman the previous year at Marienbad. Marienbad is an Uber-elite, luxury resort, by the way. Anyway, the movie is full of confusing imagery, twisted cinematography and other general nonsense. It's really hard to put together. For example, there is a statue in the movie, and every time it is shown in a scene it is facing a different direction. Also, the layout of the resort changes a lot, so you can't really follow a whole lot of what is going on.
Anyway, Hotel California always reminds me of Last Year At Marienbad. There is one crucial difference, though: Marienbad sucks.
Anonymous
i think hotel california is a great song.
Actually its the best song ever written.
im 14 and somehow it makes me escape from my life.
The song doesnt make any sense but thats what makes it a great song, people listen to it because they are trying to figure it out what it is about.
April - Red Lodge , Mt
'colitas' means cigarette butts. simple as that.Cosmosis - Orlando, Fl
Almost everything Henley wrote is outstanding..some awesome..this is one of the more enigmatic. It is a classic.

A side comment: I live in Atlanta..why do I never meet men as erudite as Joseph? I think he has an excellent point.
Jeri - Atlanta , Ga
I was about 10 (almost 20 years ago), when I first heard interpretations regarding the underlying meanings of "Hotel California". What I heard came from Christian conservatives that supported movements to censor and ban certain music for their perverted undertones, brain-washing effects and promotion of sinful behaviour. Although I was in my "I know it all already" age, I was still stirred by their message - especially when they played this song backwards. I cannot remember exactly what I heard, but there were definitely some satanic references that were in line with Joel's comments. I know this is a great song, but you cannot deny that the lyrics are a little spooky.Gerald - Melbourne, Australia
Is this song about drugs? IS this song about sex, god or the devil??

Or is this song simply a statement telling us that we are not in control of our own lives, that we slave day and night for our apparent "masters", who would have us believe that we DO have a choice?

Listen to the words, not too carefully though. Don't try to think about them, that's what you were meant to do, that's how they hid the true meaning.

In a world ran by hidden powers and secret societies, how can we be sure of what is or isn't free speech or even free thought?

In a world where "freedom of speech" and "freedom of ideals" gets you incarcerated or even worse, you seem to "disappear", how can a song so meaningful be explained so easily. The only people who truely know the "real" meaning behind the song are the writers. They don't want us to know the true meaning, not out of spite, but out of fear! Fear of compromising the "powers" and all that they try to accomplish.

Listen to the song again, then ask yourself. "Am I living my own life. Do I exist, or am I being allowed to exist?"

Contemplate these words. Do not simply dismiss them as you have been "programmed" to.

Ponder not on the meaning of the song, just the meaning of the "power words" used in the song...

We ARE programmed to receive... You can check out anytime you want, but you can NEVER leave.

"And in the master's chambers
They gathered for the feast..." Any conspiracy theorist out there will know the TRUE meaning behind this... The "enlightened" ones!

Do what thou willst, shall be the whole of the law!
Anonymous
I think this song is about the excesses (drugs, women) available to celebrities. Hotel California is a metaphor for the life lived when you are famous. (Any time of year, you can find it here.)

The song starts out with a married rock musician feeling horny. He goes to a club (brothel, whatever) and finds a woman. He knows he['s taking a risk, but is incapable of resisting (this could be heaven or this could be hell). When he hears the mission bell, it's a wake up call that he has screwed up royally.

The phrase "in the master's chambers... just can't kill the beast" could refer to talking to his agent/manager about the competition he was feeling from Steely Dan and the pressure it was putting on him.

At the end, the tablooids got to him. He would love to get back to where he was before the drugs and the women ruined his life, but the notoriety about his exploits is now public knowledge.

Just a thought.

Suzanne R., Dallas
Suzanne - Dallas, Tx
This song was originally written in spanish by a band called the Gipsy Kings. The Eagles just changed some words so it would sound better in englishA - Tucson, Az
This Song Has To Be The Best Rock & Roll Song EverBilly - Ottawa, Canada
The Rocky Horror Show was out in '75, this was written in '76. I never knew the dates before but I just checked now and whenever I've heard this song it has always reminded me of the afore mentioned film. If you've seen it you'll realize if you haven't seen it, then I seriously recomment hiring it and then listening to the song again and may I just say, 'Stab it with our steely knives' is exactly what the Master wants them to do in Rocky Horror. Just a thought but I guessed these two were too closely related to be over-looked.Matthew - Nr London, England
No no no! The Hotel California is located in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur- a place often visited by the Eagles. Simple as that. I've been there!Heather - Akron, Oh
'Colitas' is the plural of 'colita' which is the diminutive of 'cola' which is a word used by people in the north of Mexico to refer to someone's behind. In center and south of Mexico some women use the same word to refer to their crotch.Deropd - Monterrey, Mexico
You know, I don't think the song is just about drugs. It may sort of, but it's not entirely. There's too much in the way of excess and materialism to think that. (Personally, no offence meant, I think that people who think songs are about drugs right off the bat are too narrow-minded to dig any deeper but that's just me.)Lacy - Yukon, Ok
the hotel california was the name of the band's tour bus at the time the album was recorded.Rick - Montgomery, Al
anytime that im stressing, or i just cant take the pressure, i listen to this song. i've acuatallty seen a really cool ballet piece done to this songMadison - Atlanta, Ga
I'm a 16 year old bassist, and I try to listen to some new rock. But I always come to the same conclusion: it's all generic crap compared to the genius of many classic rock songs. The last good band to emerge was Metallica who had great stuff in the 80's (one and fade to black will be played on classic rock stations in a few years) but have lost their musical way in recent years. Anyway, I'd trade away every ounce of new crap for another song like hotel california or stairway to heaven or freebird to come out. Live on, classic rock.Troy - Charlotte, Nc
The "Hotel California" was the name of the Eagles Tour Bus.Rick - Montgomery, Al
Everytime I listen this song, I connect it with something going on in my life. It can cover so much it is incredible. Definately one of the greatest songs ever.James - Tacoma, Wa
i have heard a lot that this song is about a place that resembles a rehab or prison, where we are all prisoners here of our own device would mean your own personal device being your drug of choice.Blake - Chico, Ca
One of the, if not "the", greatest songs of all time. Im sure that has been said like 50 times on this board but i figured i would say it again. Its incredible what a single song can prevoke in the minds of people. When we listen to it we all hear the same awesome guitar solo's and the sweet sounds of Don's voice, but we all have different pictures in our minds. That is the beauty of music and this song does it better than just about any out there. It has a meaning thats for sure... but its not up to us to say exactly what it is, we all take it a different way and that is just how it should be...Bob - Las Vegas, Nv
This song is definitely among the best that you will EVER hear- be it on LPs or the radio- it has staying power. That's the genius of it all. There's so many ways to interpret it: it could be about illness, it could be about life in general, it could be about hardships that you encounter. Best of all: it could end up being about most everything you encounter in your life- relationships, marriage, illness, loss of a loved one, anything. It's because of this kind of ingenuity that the Eagles remain one of the best bands ever formed and Hotel California remains one of the best songs ever written.Rhondelle - Mission, Sd
a week ago i was in a lecture about rock and roll and drugs in the 60's and 70's. and the lecturer explained that "hotel california" is especially about drugs and not about possessions.
you can see it in the line "relax said the nightman , we are programed to recieve. you can check out any time you like ,but you can never leave."
Ifat - Shoam, Israel
I think that this song is one of greatest songs that ever been done.Essam - Amman, Other
Ever since I first heard this song I was intrigued, and many times I have gone in search of it's true meaning. When I listened to the lyrics initially I thought of a hotel which sexually serviced males, but then I thought only certain aspects of the song fitted in with that interprestation. Many other thoughts as mentioned by others on this site such as drugs and rehab, falling in love, cancer etc, have come to mind. But inevitably, I don't think there is really one way to interpret this masterpiece of music. As Henly suggests the meaning is broard and was not meant to be broken down and defined into one category. Each person can interpret the sory behind "Hotel California" in their own personal way. I believe it is just a metaphorical explanation of 'life', its positive and negative aspects, its highs and lows, its smoke and mirrors, its ecstasy and seduction and the unescapable notion that it could be heaven or it could be hell - "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!"Andrea - Ayr, Australia
Somewhere I heard that "warm smell of colitas" had to do with vaginas or something. Stupid? True? Can ANYONE clarify?Sol - Dallas, Tx
They did a tour a few years back, and i went to a yard sale and found a shirt from the original tour SIGNED. It went for ONE DOLLAR! I am on the prowl for the record. The only record i dont have of them is Hotel California. AWESOME INGENIUS BAND! I am only 18 yrs old, and i LOVE CLASSIC ROCK! There is no other music for me, i dont care what this song is about, its just amazing. Its great to analyze songs, i know. But, take it for what it is, not what you think it is.Paul - Madison, Al
i interpret this song as being about choices we make in life which affect where we go when we die, and choosing whether to give in to temptation etc..but all the interpretations are worth thinking about, and i don't think there is a right or wrong answer. could it possibly be a number of these different meanings put together?chrisChris - Nottingham, England
I think Cristiano is pretty much in the right direction. I do think that Henley and Frey kind of blended a little of Milton's Paradise Lost with a little of their own idea. A lot of what is written in PL is very similar to this song. Refering to Satans daughter Sin as a seductress and Death as the beast. The voices down the corridor being referred to the other angels in the story that Satan took with him. Never being able to go back to Heaven. etc. If you have ever read Milton's Paradise Lost and then listen to the song. You can see alot of similarities. But reguardless it was a stroke of genius and I am sure Henley and the gang had a blast writing it.T - Omaha, Ne
this really is an awesome song and it's pure genious since it could generate so many diff interpretations(marriage, drug addiction, cancer,excess are just a few) but i went on the net and found out what Don Henley had in mind when he wrote this song:
Don: Actually, I was a little disappointed with how the record was taken, because I meant it in a much broader sense than a commentary about California. I was looking at American culture, and when I called that one song "Hotel California, I was simply using California as a microcosm for the rest of America and for the self-indulgence of our entire culture.
It was, to a certain extent, about California, about the excesses out here. But in many instances, as California goes, so goes the nation. Things simply happen out here or in New York first  whether it's with drugs or fashion or artistic movements or economic trends  and then work their way toward the middle of America. And thats what I was trying to get at.

and here's what both DON and GLENN had to say about the song:

Glenn: The song began as a demo tape, an instrumental by Don Felder. He?d been submitting tapes and song ideas to us since he?d joined the band, always instrumentals, since he didn?t sing. But this particular demo, unlike many of the others, had room for singing. It immediately got our attention. The first working title, the name we gave it, was "Mexican Reggae."

For us, "Hotel California" was definitely thinking and writing outside the box. We had never written any song like it before. Similar to "Desperado," we did not start out to make any sort of concept or theme album. But when we wrote "Life In The Fast Lane" and started working on "Hotel California" and "New Kid In Town" with J.D., we knew we were heading down a long and twisted corridor and just stayed with it. Songs from the dark sideâ??the Eagles take a look at the seamy underbelly of L.A.â??the flip side of fame and failure, love and money.

"They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can?t kill the beast" was a little Post-It back to Steely Dan. Apparently, Walter Becker?s girlfriend loved the Eagles, and she played them all the time. I think it drove him nuts. So, the story goes that they were having a fight one day, and that was the genesis of the line, "turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening" in "Everything You Did," from Steely Dan?s The Royal Scam album. During the writing of "Hotel California," we decided to volley. We just wanted to allude to Steely Dan rather than mentioning them outright, so "Dan" got changed to "knives," which is still, you know, a penile metaphor. Stabbing, thrusting, etc.

Almost everybody in my business can write music, play guitar, play piano, create chord progressions, etc., but it?s only when you add lyrics and melody and voices to these things that they take on an identity and become something beyond the sum of the individual parts. I remember that Henley and I were listening to the "Hotel California" demo tape together on an airplane, and we were talking about what we would write and how we wanted to be more cinematic. We wanted this song to open like an episode of The Twilight Zoneâ??just one shot after another.

I remember De Niro in The Last Tycoon. He?s got this scene, and he?s talking to some other people in his office. He speaks to them: "The door opens . . . the camera is on a person?s feet . . . he walks across the room . . . we pan up to the table . . . he picks up a pack of matches that says ?The Such-And-Such Club? on it . . . strikes a match and lights a cigarette . . . puts it out . . . goes over to the window . . . opens the shade . . . looks out . . . the moon is there . . . what does it mean? Nothing. It?s just the movies." "Hotel California" is like that. We take this guy and make him like a character in The Magus, where every time he walks through a door there?s a new version of reality. We wanted to write a song just like it was a movie. This guy is driving across the desert. He?s tired. He?s smokin?. Comes up over a hill, sees some lights, pulls in. First thing he sees is a really strange guy at the front door, welcoming him: "Come on in." Walks in, and then it becomes Fellini-esqueâ??strange women, effeminate men, shadowy corridors, disembodied voices, debauchery, illusion. . . . Weirdness. So we thought, "Let?s really take some chances. Let?s try to write in a way that we?ve never written before." Steely Dan inspired us because of their lyrical bravery and willingness to go "out there." So, for us, "Hotel California" was about thinking and writing outside the box.

Don: We were enamored with hotels. Hotels were a big part of our lives. The Beverly Hills Hotel had become something of a focal pointâ??literally and symbolically. I?ve always been interested in architecture and the language of architecture, and, at that time, I was particularly keen on the mission style of early California. I thought there was a certain mystery and romance about it. Then, there are all the great movies and plays in which hotels figure prominently, not only as a structure, but as a dramatic device. Films such as Grand Hotel, The Night Porter, and even Psychoâ??motels count too. There are plays like Neil Simon?s Plaza Suite and California Suite, which Glenn and I went to see while writing the song. We saw it as homework or research. We were looking for things that would stimulate us and give us ideas. Sometimes it was just driving around. We would still take trips out to the desert. At one point, Glenn and I rented a little red house up in Idlewildâ??way up in the San Bernardino Mountains. We?d drive out there sometimes just to clear our heads, sleep on the floor in sleeping bags. We didn?t have any furniture. We were just on the quest.
Julia - London, England
The Eagles are just plain genius, and that's the only way to look at it. No matter what the song's really about, people will always debate its meaning. They created a metaphorical masterpiece that, in my opinion, can never really be solved. But, hey, it sure is fun trying.Travis - Lawrence, Ks
I never looked at the song form Joseph form Atlanta's point of view, but it is a good analysis of the songs... And I agree with him saying that the song will play on the radio for at least another 30 years... This is the best song ever... It'll live long...Kathleen - Berthierville, Canada
This stuff was really interesting so I decided to enter my two cents worth. When I was younger (like 10 or so) my dad and I were listening to this song. He told me that he had once heard that the song referred to CANCER. Now stick with me on this. "Cool wind in my hair. Warm smell of colitas Rising up through the air" was about life going well. Then "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" is about becoming sick and seeing the signs that somethings wrong. "There she stood in the doorway" refers to a nurse at the hospital (Hotel California). "I heard the mission bell And I was thinking to myself This could be Heaven or this could be Hell" is about those who are at the hospital. Some are dieing (mission bells), some are being treated (heaven), some are going through great pains (hell). "Then she lit up a candle And she showed me the way" is him checking in and being placed in a room. "There were voices down the corridor
I thought I heard them say...and the chorus" are other patients talking. They are being sarcastic. The whole next verse refers to those who aren't too sick, some are still hopeful and some are about to give up hope ("How they dance in the courtyard Sweet summer sweat Some dance to remember Some dance to forget"). The chorus, again, is the call of patients being sarcastic. One particular part is "What a nice surprise", talking about the surprise of having cancer. "Mirrors on the ceiling" refers to the hosptial. Hospital ER always seem metalic and shiny. "And she said We are all just prisoners here Of our own device" is completely true. Cancer is created by are own disfunctional cells. "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" is talking about the actual surgery. The docters gather for the operation, but no matter what they do, they can't get rid of the cancer. "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 nightman We are programed to recieve You can check out any time you like But you can never leave" is the final realization that he has cancer. He wants to get back to the time before he had it, but he can't. He can never leave....Well, I hope you enjoyed that! THANKS FOR YOUR TIME!!!
Alicia - Lakeville, Mn
The first working title, the name they gave it, was "Mexican Reggae."Bill Crawford - Oro Valley, Az
Isn't this song a tribute to Janis Joplin? I heard that somewhere, it may be an urban legend though.Peter - Orland Park, Il
Although very possible I have some big problems with the the idea that the "Hotel California" is actually a mental hospital. The one line "..we are all prisoners here of OUR OWN device" which implies to me that they are there on their own accord;"mirrors on the ceiling" are used so that whoever is on the bottom (cough) can see whats hapening on top, "the stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast" implies to me a herion addiction like Andy said (also "the beast" is a term used in the Bible for Satan), finally "bring your alibis". This all comes to me as a cult, a party spot for celebrities, or hell on earth. And oh yeah GREAT SONG!Lorne - Toronto, Canada
i heard that the song is about a man joining a cult. try listening to the words with this in mind and see what i mean.Will - Mcallen , Tx
My "Interpretive Texts" textbook in college (1997) said that this song was one long suicide note. And they went through and had every refernce a "afterlife" refernce.Chloe - Ann Arbor, Mi
"The stab it with their steely knives/But they just can't kill the beast" The way I interpeted this is that "steely knives" are actually heroin needles, and that "the beast" is their craving for more. And "stabbing it" refers to shooting up.Andy - Houston, Tx
I have a lot of time on my hands, so I went and searched "Hotel California" on the internet. Here's what I came up with: There is this old Catholic Spanish mission somewhere in California (not sure where), that was abondoned in 1969. It was taken over by a group of devil worshipers and dubbed the "Hotel California" (hense the line "we havn't had that spirit here since 1969"). Now tells the Twilight Zone-like tale about a man who gets tricked by a beautiful looking member of this cult. He doesn't know anything about this place. He just figures it's a hotel, I need sleep, the two add up, so what the heck. The woman who leads him to his room could be someone to,you know, or someone that could do bad to him (this could be heaven or this could be hell). Guess which one. So everything just goes downhill from there.Joel - Royal Palm Beach, Fl
Lighting up a candle? Little hint there: it's not actually a candle.Daniel - Toronto, Canada
If you want more songs that are open to interpretation, such as this one.. listen to Tool. You'll find more like this.. and better... not to mention some of the sweetest drumming ever to be recorded.Brian - Mayfield Heights, Oh
When there's this much confusion, blame drugs. I reckon its a 6 and a half minute acid tripLouis - London, England
well i think that both joesph and chris' interpretations are very good and could possibly be what the song's about ,but to me it has to do with being in a mental institution or being in rehab. but anyways i think the song is awesome ,u can tell how really deep it is because of all the interpretations it has , i mean every person has there own interpretation. It's pretty cool! I WISH THERE COULD BE MORE SONGS LIKE THIS ONE!Virnalisa - Santo Domingo, Other
I am really surprised not to see this here, because I have always thought (and I think I was told that) that Hotel California is really a mental hospital... And knowing that, everything makes sense... A guy comes to this "hotel" checking in...
"Plenty of room at the Hotel California" I wonder why..
"Commander Tiffany twisted...."
"Some dance to remember, some dance to forget!"
"Mirrors on the ceiling, the pink champagne on ice. And she said, we are all just prisoners here, of our own device."
And finally, but not least...
"You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!"
I have a lot of ppl backing me up on this one... It's weird how a song is able to keep so many ways open, so many options that is possible... I agree with it being a shame they don't make songs like this anymore...
Madeline - Memoria, Norway
Hotel California was Tim Leary's hotel.

the song's about and around drugs, not neccesarily anti or pro...
Undisclosed - New York City, Ny
The only thing that puzzles me about my interpretation is that the line "this could be heaven or this could be hell" is too obvious for such a metaphorical song.Cristiano - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Well, I've read the interpretations of Chris and Joseph, but I have a complete different way to interpret it. I believe it is a song about hell (Hotel California). It is somewhat similar to what "Sympathy for the Devil" tries to show - that the devil (and therefore hell) can be very seducing (I am a man of wealth and taste).
The first part - until the first chorus - is the guy dead and "choosing" whether he should go to hell or to heaven. The "desert highway" would be the after-life highway to heaven, the "mission bell" would be the door to heaven, but somehow his attention is drawn to a different place - Hotel California. Devil is pulling his game.
The second part is after his choice for hell, when everything is just fine. Fancy good-looking ladies, dance and pretty boys as friends.
The voices down the corridor would be the guy's own conscience, remembering of the bad choice he has made (I believe the praise of the Hotel in the chorus is a little bit sarcastic).
In the third and last part is when the true face of hell is shown, the seduction is over and now the Devil (the nightman) is going to collect its debts. The fancy girl turns out to be a "prisoner" (not physically, but her soul is doomed).
The master's chambers (Lucifer himself) is another reference to hell.
The steely knive stabbing I can interpret two ways: one could be a ritual of black magic and the other would be the rage of the main character after he realized he was deceived by the Devil. He could stab the Devil as long as he wanted to, but it would never die.
And the final verse is the guy trying to escape, maybe back to the desert highway, but the Devil closes the Devil and states that great last sentence, meaning that the guy was doomed for the whole eternity.
Cristiano - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
When I first listened to this song, I drew two conclusions. First that the song was obviously about a drug trip/addiction (the more I think about it, the more I am sure it is more about an addiction then a trip for reasons that I will explain in a moment.), and secondly that it is one of the most well thought out songs I have ever heard.

I would like to take key lyrics out and relate them as how I see they fit with the theme:

"On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair", I believe this refers to a dark time in life, one that you are trying to escape. Alone, in the endless darkness.

"Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light ", I see this as a possible escape from the darkness. You find a way out, and it seems pleasing to begin with.

" 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 ", He stops for the night because there is a chance that he can get out of it. And he sees the temptation (Women always represent temptation.) He thinks to himself, as he gets his first taste, "This could be Heaven of Hell" in regards to the mixed feelings that he is having.

" Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way There were voices down the corridor, " This "temptation" draws him in the Hotel, which represents addiction. The voices of the other addicts welcome him to this beautiful prision.

The Chorous, "Welcome to the Hotel California Such a lovely place Such a lovely face Plenty of room at the Hotel California Any time of year, you can find it here " Says a lot. This says now, for the first time he is trapped. It chorus is put here because he has just been drawn in and now, even if he does not realize it, he will not be comming back out. It is such a lovely place with so much beauty, because everything is more beautiful in the 'Hotel' as long as you play along. It also says that it does not matter when you want it, because you know you can always have it. California is always beautiful... as long as you see it that way.

"Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends ", this is really a genuis line. He says that she is a very twisted, but very beautful girl. This is the first time he speaks of anything negative about the 'Hotel'. This could be the end of a high. He also comments that she has many pretty boys, saying that temptation has captured so many other people as well.

"How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat. Some dance to remember, some dance to forget " The important part is the second line. Some do this dance to feel how they used to, to feel good again, and some do the 'dance' to forget the pain, to make their problems go away.

"So I called up the Captain, Please bring me my wine He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine" ", He tries to get something else, but nothing works. (I still have not cracked this line just yet, but I believe that is close.)

"And still those voices are calling from far away, Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say... " Even though he talks to them, even though he is in the Hotel now, he can still hear them calling for him, deeper and deeper within the 'Hotel' He wakes up, probably in cold sweats... remembering what a lovely place it is... what a great feeling it was, and it calls to him.

"And she said "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"", no matter who they are, they are all here because they did it to themselves. They are trapped in the Hotel because they made this decision.

"The stab it with their steely knives, But they just can't kill the beast ", This seems to refer to feeding the addiction. (Steely knives - needles) That ever addict wants to quit... after this one. and they think if they do it this last time, then that will be it.

"Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door I had to find the passage back To the place I was before ", He is trying to find his way back, now he realizes what he has gotten himself into. He is trying to go back through time, take back his mistake.

" "Relax," said the night man, We are programmed to receive.", I believe this one, loosely translated means "Why worry, you are here anyway, just enjoy it."

"You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave!". You can say you are going to stop at any time, but you are never going to escape it. Once you are in the Hotel, there is no way out.

I hope someone is able to get something from this.
Thanks for your time.
Chris - Milford, Mi
God, why don't they make music like this anymore? I was only 2 years old when this song came out, but it's definetly one of the best ever. All these little boy bands and crap coming out these days could take some lessons. They'll never ever hold their own against the Eagles or CCR, they're the epitome of true Rock and Roll.Anonymous
What makes this song so absolutely amazing is the variety of meanings you can apply to it. Ive read at least three different meanings on this board alone (divorce, drugs and whore house) and how many songs can accomplish that?



One other meaning ive heard that sounds pretty plausible is that its about the record industry in California (Los Angeles to be more speficic). Its quite plausible considering how they start out the song about the colitas in the air (well, they were all snorkling up dope in their noses at the time being it seems) and how they say the "shimmering light". There is an attractive dispair in the opening verse: "And i was thinking to myself, this could be heaven or this could be hell". The chorus explains the tempting emotions you feel when coming in contact with such a place.



The second verse i cant really put my head on. Maybe it states that the song itself is about a girl coming there wanting to build a career. How she is seduced by the atmosphere and sudden success.



The rest of the song has alot of additions that states similar things. "So i called up the captain, please bring me my wine" - Implies that the character really has set his mind to success. "We havent had that spirit here, since 1969" - As someone stated, there hasnt been any artist with the devotion they had at woodstock since then. Some more fuzzy parts: "and in the masters chambers, they gathered for the feast" - Well, the record company is arranging parties for them - "They stab it with their steely knives, but they just cant kill the beast" - They try to get away from it, but their contracts are too strong for them to leave. This last past reflects in the last verse when he is running for the door.



This is just one, quite plausible, meaning of the song and i know there is more out there. Ive also heard people comparing it to joining a cult, perhaps satanic and im sure you can apply the text to even more things.



Just my two cents.
Patrik - St Ju, Europe
I had always thought the line where the captain says "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969" was a refferance to woodstock concert up in NewYork, which happened to be in 1969.Anonymous
personally, i think one of the best versions of hotel california that i've ever heard is the spanish version that plays in the big lebowski as the jesus in bowling.Beatrice - New York City, Ny
Joseph, excellent job at tackling a rather opaque song! However, I am not sure that is what the Eagles had in mind when they wrote it. I have always heard that the song is about a whore house. If you read the lyrics with this in mind, they work as well. However, the lyrics are not what make this song special. The end guitar duel is among the best ever.Matthew - New York, Ny
it is about drug abuse. the last lyric about u can check out anytime u like, but u can never leave, symobolizes that u can stop doing the drugs, but ur always one minute from coming back.Andy - Corning, Ny
Good dissertation by Joseph. Although my feelings on this masterpiece vary from his, it brings back one vivid moment of my childhood when I first viewed the album and ran my fingers over the cover. I was in awe when I heard the song and my own visualization of that experience comes back to me each and every time I now hear it. It was so fresh back in 1976 and is so today.Mili - Milwaukee, Wi
i like your interpretation joseph but the thing i still wonder about is who went through the divorce? someone would actually have to go through a pretty bad divorce to write a song with those lyrics. i guess the interpretation is up to everyone for themselves, i've heard lots of different ideas but this one is one of the best.Jenni - Bilbao, Spain
This comment is to Joseph, I really enjoyed reading what you wrote and it gives the song a whole new meaning for me. I feel as though i can relate to similar things in my life at this time. I printed out what you wrote and shared it with everyone I know. I go back and read it oftenAmy - Baton Rouge, La
There is a special agreement between radio stations in California, so that at least one of them must play this song at any time of the day.Giovanni - Cremona, Italy
I always thought that colitas was a kind of flower. I guess when in doubt, it is usually about drugs.Randy - Norman, Ok
------(A *LONG* COMMENT, BUT WORTH THE TIME)-----
After listening to the song for the hundredth time, over the years, I finally decided what all of the words meant to one of the Eagles' most famous, and least understood songs. It seems to me, that the lyrics are a commentary on the state of Marriage, in California. Where so many relationships seem to go well at first, and then fall apart badly. Of course, few people at that time would knock such a strong social institution as Marriage- at least not directly. It was supposed to be the best that a relationship could be, and what we might all aspire to, one day yet so many of them had been going obviously wrong.
--------
Read the lyrics with me, below, and see if you find the same meaning or at least a few things to think about along the way. After all, the seventies were an age of veiled lyrical meanings, and creativity.
--------(Lyric:)--------
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair. Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
-------(Thoughts:)------
Some native Spanish speakers mentioned that colitas is the diminutive feminine plural of the Spanish cola, tail. Little tail. Looking for a little . . . Hmmm: perhaps colitas referred to a certain feature of the female anatomy. However there?s a dual meaning here, since colitis can also pertain to the little buds of marijuana, with a warm sweet smell. ( both somewhat intoxicating, and affecting judgment )At any rate our singer starts out a single man- riding carefree down the highway, thinking of his girl, who may even have been riding in the seat beside him.
--------(Lyric:)--------
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering lightMy head grew heavy and my sight grew dimI had to stop for the night
-------(Thoughts:)------
This could be the only actual reference to a Hotel, but is again a dual meaning: With the influence of too much Mary-Jane, or too much girlfriend, our author stops (perhaps at a hotel) for the night. BUT more importantly, his sight/reasoning grows dim, because he decides to ?settle? for a girl that wasn?t quite right for him and thereby enters the "Hotel California", of relationships.
--------(Lyric:)--------
There she stood in the doorway;I heard the mission bellAnd I was thinking to myself,'This could be Heaven or this could be Hell'
-------(Thoughts:)------
What the song doesn?t directly say is: It is the doorway to a CHURCH. We've advanced a few months, and are about to be married, which is why you hear the mission bell. And as he looks at his bride, somewhat uncertain, he was thinking that this (the marriage) could be heaven, or could be hell
--------(Lyric:)--------
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the wayThere were voices down the corridor,I thought I heard them say...Welcome to the Hotel CaliforniaSuch a lovely placeSuch a lovely facePlenty of room at the Hotel CaliforniaAny time of year, you can find it here
-------(Thoughts:)------
Candles and romance, for at least a honeymoon's worth, yet something is not quite right - a little voice in the distance bothers him: is this really going to work?He tries to convince himself he?s done the right thing. Welcome to the married life it's supposed to be good, right? Of course it is: look at her, she's lovely.Plenty of room at the hotel California more people getting married all the time, and inviting everybody else to do the same - just like you did. Any time of year you can find a time & place to get married. Yet the voices in his head are still there.
--------(Lyric:)--------
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bendsShe got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friendsHow they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
-------(Thoughts:)------
It turns out, that his wife is definitely high maintainance, with expensive tastes and more interested in his money than him. After the initial passion is over, she's got several other boy-toys on the side. When he's out with his wife, he starts noticing other couples and depending on whether things are going well or not some dance to remember happy days, some dance to forget troubled ones.
--------(Lyric:)--------
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 nightJust to hear them say...
-------(Thoughts:)------
The "spirit" here isn't alcohol, but the spirit & emotion of the marriage he?s looking for. Unfortunately that?s long gone, and we haven?t seen it for a while.Yet the voices are still there and the doubts grow stronger, leaving him awake in the middle of the night, thinking.
--------(Lyric:)--------
Welcome to the Hotel CaliforniaSuch a lovely placeSuch a lovely faceThey livin' it up at the Hotel CaliforniaWhat a nice surprise, bring your alibis
-------(Thoughts:)------
More voices,Other people think the marriage is going great - they're living it up- But it's not quite what you'd hoped (what a nice surprise)Excuses are made, accusations too, alibis are in order.
--------(Lyric:)--------
Mirrors on the ceiling,The pink champagne on iceAnd she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'
-------(Thoughts:)------
They try to rekindle the romance - get a little kinky - pour a few more drinks. We are all just prisoners here, of our own device: We're the ones who decided to get married - we did it to ourselves, but now we just feel trapped.
--------(Lyric:)--------
And in the master's chambers,They gathered for the feastThey stab it with their steely knives,But they just can't kill the beast
-------(Thoughts:)------
Sooner or later (in California style) the marriage is over.In the master's chambers (Judges chambers, during the divorce)They gather for the feast. The lawyers, and his wife are all going to benefit, an a gruesome, ugly, "feast" where they all take whatever they can get from the husbad.As for the Marriage: the bitter words, sharp tounges lash, but they can?t quite destroy the lingering shreds of marriage, or the husband portrayed as a "beast".... Yes, this can ALSO be a tribute to Steely Dan, as noted elsewhere- but that simply makes it all that more creative, to have double meanings, which are both valid.
--------(Lyric:)--------
Last thing I remember, I wasRunning for the doorI had to find the passage backTo the place I was before
-------(Thoughts:)------
By the time the divorce was finished, he just wanted OUT. With the marriage fully over, he tries to put his life back to how it had been, before he was ever married. but it's not easy
--------(Lyric:)--------
'Relax,' said the mad man,We are programmed to receive.You can checkout any time you like,but you can never leave!
-------(Thoughts:)------
That voice in his head reminds him, that it's never really over once you've been married, there's always going to be some part of you that isn't the same. For better or for worse, he realizes that even after getting divorced, and checking out of the "Hotel California," you can't just leave it all behind. We (society, biology or emotion) are programmed to receive. It's easier to get IN to marriage than out
--------(Conclusion)--------
I've considered this to be a highly crafted masterpiece of lyrics, by the Eagles, and suspect it will still be floating across the radio waves another 30 years from now. And while it speaks of relationships that went down in flames, I still think it leaves a hopefull message for others -- as if to say "take heed, what has befallen us" and "may your loves & lives find a happier way" -- so I've danced to the song frequently, and hope some day to be amoung those who "Dance to remember, not forget."
-------(end)--------
Joseph- - Atlanta, Ga
The tribute to Steely Dan-- the bands had mutual admiration for each other-- was actually in response to The Eagles being mentioned in a Steely Dan song, "Everything You Did" from 1976's album "The Royal Scam" ("Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening")Van - Tampa, Fl