This is an angry song directed to a lover. It's one of Steely Dan's lesser-known compositions; NME called it "relaxed and hummable, but hardly memorable" in their review.
The line, "Turn up the Eagles; the neighbors are listening" has become the mythologized in rock. Steely Dan admired the Eagles, and the group's had the same manager: Irving Azoff. The duo has been coy about the line, but legend has it that Walter Becker's girlfriend loved the Eagles and played them all the time, which bothered him a bit. One day they got in a fight, and he came up with that line.
A story with more veracity is how the Eagles returned the favor on "Hotel California" with the line, "They stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill the beast." With the clear intention of getting a Steely Dan mention in the song, the line was written as "They stab it with their Steely Dan," but they decided to make it a little more vague. As Glenn Frey has pointed out, changing it to "steely knives" retains the phallic imagery.
Asked by Uncut what he thought when he heard the line, Don Henley replied: "I know them pretty well, and it was like he was sort of saying, 'Everybody's in LA's playing this f--kin' record, and I'm sick of it.!' It was a little bit of an acknowledgment and a little bit taking the piss, because we had the same management – still do- but you know, they're very droll, Fagen in particular."
Eli Wells from UsaSorry again. Andrew fact check brother... Tim sang on Rikki Don't Lose That Number.
Eli Wells from UsaSorry Lou, it's a dildo from the book Naked Lunch. I still think Joe Walsh had a lot more influence on the Hotel California album than given credit.
Mvantryke from Charlottesteely eagles.
Dave from Ormond Beach, FlAnyone ever notice the line in Asia's "Silent Nation" (appx. 2004) - "Turn up the neighbors, the eagles are listening."? I wonder if permission had to be given for such a copy.
Brian from Savannah, GaHere is what really happened. Becker's girlfriend was always playing The Eagles. I'm not sure if it bothered him, but they were fighting and he said "Turn up The Eagles the neighbors are listening." Then Fagen took it and did what he does best.
Philip from Akron, OhSorry, Lou from Hartford, but the name "Steely Dan" was taken from "Naked Lunch" by William S. Burrows.
Lou from Hartford, CtHotel California is about the draw of the fast life in California. Yes that line is about drugs. But steely is a slang term for a hypodermic needle. That's the reason for the line and that's probably the reason for Steely Dan's name.
Thomas from Sacramento, CaAccording to Glenn Frey's liner notes for The Very Best of Eagles, the use of the word "steely" in the lyric (referring to knives) was a playful nod to band Steely Dan, who had included the lyric "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening" in their song "Everything You Did."
Wood3001 from Vancouver, Bchere's how it really went down:
Dane from Central Nj, NjAndrew, your comment about Timothy B. Schmidt playing on "Can't Buy A Thrill" didn't sound right to me, because Steely Dan was a self-contained band for those first two albums. I looked it up and Schmidt did play on some Steely Dan albums, starting with their third, "Pretzel Logic." Still, you are correct that Steely Dan and The Eagles were obviously aware of each other. Their rivalry in the 1970's is widely documented, including the connection between "Everything You Did" and "Hotel California", as mentioned here by Seth of Brooklyn and other commenters. The songs were actually released even closer together than Seth states. The albums from which they were released ("The Royal Scam" and "Hotel California") came out in May 1976 and December 1976 respectively.
Andrew from Glendora, CaTimothy B. Schmidt, the bass player from the Eagles played on the first Steely Dan album, Can't Buy A Thrill. So obviously there is a connection.
Joe from Somewhere In Fla, FlI'm reading a lot of bickering. I just wanted to mention the obvious meaning of this song. Guy catches his GF cheating. But in some kinky way he's turned on by it. I'm a big Steely Dan fan from way back, in 1987 I had a rough break up with a girl (guess why) After that I couldn't listen to this song for a long time
Andy from Rockaway , NySaw the Eagles at MSG last month, great show, Walsh was great. saw the Dan last Friday at the Beacon, they rule.
Erica from Barrington , IlSteely dan & the Eagles did have a weird competitive relationship. I think thier syles are very different, but I can see why in the 70's they were each others competition.
Bill from Schererville, InI just recently discovered this website and it is FANTASTIC (and quite addicting).
Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaOf course it's a 'dig' at the eagles - between two rock bands that respect each other, you think it would be some lovey dovey tribute? Have you ever been in a rock band? Your hair would turn white if you heard the 'terms of endearment' we use towards each other. heh heh.
Tony from Vero Beach, FlI had read in interviews of members of both Steely Dan and the Eagles about the "mutual references". I always thought it funny that the Eagles figured they'd "repay the favor" of the reference when I always perceived it as a dig. (Seth from Brooklyn's mention of the fact that the lyric "was inspired by Walter Becker's girlfriend, who loved The Eagles" only reinforces this in my mind.) It's a bit of condescension regarding the musical taste of this particular object of scorn. ("How's my little girl?") Then again, any major Dan-head like me surely will tell you that Fagen and Becker are a couple of colossally arrogant (expletive)s that happen to write and create great music... and I couldn't love 'em more for it...
Mike from Hueytown , AlSteely Dan and the Eagles are 2 of my top 3 all time favorite bands. I never knew they had a connection until I came on here. That figures hehehehe
John from Wilmington, NcUmmm Becki...whether or not you don't believe me does not change the fact that I did meet and talk to Felder. You might want to read about how they wrote Hotel California before you come up here talking about what you "think" you know.
Kelsey from Donnellson, IaDear anyone who cares, The song "Hotel California" is not about drug addiction. It's simply about america in the 70's and the life of excess that many, like the Eagles, had in that time period.
Becki from Hendersonville, Tnok like I believe that you have met Don Felder,and you also want us to believe that when you did meet him you remembered to ask him about the lyric that we are talking about?Keep dreaming!
John from Wilmington, NcSorry to burst your bubbles Paul and Becki but the lyric "steely knives" is a nod to Steely Dan. Not only have I read this in interviews but I met Don Felder who helped write the song. We discussed that lyric and he asked me how I knew it was a nod to Steely Dan. I told him about Everything You Did mentioning the Eagles and he said that is absolutely right. Went on to say that Steely Dan was a great band.
Becki from Hendersonville, Tnhotel california is about drug addition.they did not use the lyric "steely knives" about steely dan.Paul is right
Paul from Iowa City, IaHotel California was about cocaine addiction. The "steely knives" were razor blades and the beast was the addiction.