What's all this laughter on the 22nd floor?
It's just some friends of mine
And they're busting down the door
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Memory Motel in Montauk
Montauk, New York, is a sleepy little neighborhood within the town of East Hampton, Suffolk County, New York. That puts it right out on the tip of Long Island, the Eastern-most point of New York State, trusting to face into the Atlantic like a condemned pirate walking the plank. Be sure not to miss the Montauk Point Lighthouse, one of the oldest active lighthouses in the US. Outside of this and other similar East Coast landmarks, Montauk is a hamlet of unassuming houses along winding suburban streets, together with bases for the US military. It is also home to a thriving bed-n-breakfast inn and hotel industry.
It is widely regarded as an excellent place to fish... in more ways than one. Long-time Internet fans will remember the area for the "Montauk Monster," an as-yet-officially-unidentified creature which washed up on the beach of Montauk in July 2008. The incident was famous enough to have been covered on both CNN and FOX. To this day, none of the popular Internet theories about what creature it is hold water. H.P. Lovecraft would have loved it.
With its New England sense of mystery, this is just the right place to have a bittersweet, short affair in an anonymous hotel whose memories haunt you. Which seems to be just the incident described in The Rolling Stone's 1976 ballad "Memory Motel." And the name of the motel in Montauk really is Memory Motel! Indeed, the subject of the song is something of a cryptid herself. Who is the Hannah mentioned in the lyrics? Some say from the description that it is Carly Simon, but it hardly seems likely that she'd be trysting with Mick Jagger in Long Island. We may never know - and perhaps it is better this way.
But she haunts this song like a ghost. The fading, dying, longing love described in the verses haunts the song like a grey spectre. And the length of the song, at a whopping seven minutes - epic for a Rolling Stones composition - makes this a song which casual listeners tend to steer clear of in favor of their more upbeat numbers. But hardcore fans of The Rolling Stones love "Memory Motel" for exactly this reason - it's soulful and somber, and a very beautiful number at that.
The lyrics describe travel and trips consistent with The Rolling Stone's touring schedule around that time. By the last verse, the protagonist has glazed eyes, the memory of the mysterious Hannah mixed up with the ten thousand miles he's traveled and the fifteen states he's been to. Like a good ghost, Hannah fades from his mind, leaving him to get drunk and cry himself to sleep. In the morning, his friends bang on the door to wake him, where he has slept alone.
Was it all just a dream? Isn't every love story?
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