Mar 152012

I’m not sure how much more can be said on this topic, but the discussion that ensued when it was first posted is still a joy for me to read. Hopefully those of you new to this thread will feel likewise. And maybe you’ll share in my undying hatred for (The) Eagles.

This post initially appeared 4/24/07.

Townsman Mwall has requested that we take the following question to the Main Stage, and now we heed his call.

I’d love to hear the reasoning about “Hotel California” as a “horrible song.” Here in southern California, it’s the absolutely essential song for defining the whole pop culture of the place. I look forward–I mean this really–to hearing what’s horrible about it.

In case you can’t recall how that number goes (after some touching backstage moments)…


  64 Responses to “How Can You Say “Hotel California” a “Horrible Song?””

  1. BigSteve

    Aren’t you just talking about its literary merits? However accurate the portrayal, the overblown musical arrangement makes the lyrics sound ponderous. Why give a song about emptiness a musical setting that seems to shoot for majesty? Plus the drumming sucks.

  2. Mr. Moderator

    I really dislike the song, for starters. It drags on forever; the lyrics don’t interest me; I can’t stand the way Henley sings; I don’t like the Rug harmonies on the choruses; I hate the ponderous, wind chimes, beaded doorway, and silk robe vibe in the production. Just snort the coke off her nipples and be done with it already! I really dislike the self-absorption ans self-mythologizing that goes on in the song, not that there’s anything wrong with that practice in and of itself. This is not Neil Young stopping to pat himself on the back in a 7-minute song; it’s a bunch of hollow craftsman.

    Now, if this truly reflects the spirit of Southern California and all that jazz, it doesn’t speak well for the region’s musical heritage. There was probably a song that defined the whole pop culture of Nazi Germany, but that probably wouldn’t help me to appreciate the song any more if it had all the problems I find with “Hotel California”. If I’m going to tolerate and even find meaning in an Eagles song, give me “Take It Easy”.

  3. Maybe Mojo said it best:

    “Don Henley Must Die” by Mojo Nixon

    He’s a tortured artist
    Used to be in the Eagles
    Now he whines
    Like a wounded beagle!
    Poet of despair!
    Pumped up with hot air!
    He’s serious, pretentious
    And I just don’t care!
    Don Henley must die!
    Don’t let him get back together
    With Glenn Frey!
    Don Henley must die!

    Turn on the TV
    And what did I see?
    This bloated hairy thing
    Winning a Grammy!
    Best Rock Vocalist?
    Compared to what?
    But your pseudo-serious
    Crafty semantic Satanic plot
    Don Henley must die!
    Put a sharp stick in his eye!
    Don Henley must die!
    Yea yea yea yea yea!

    (Hotel California guitar solo)
    Quit playin’ that crap!
    You’re out of the band!

    I’m only kidding!
    Can’t you tell?
    I love his sensitive music
    Idiot poetry, swell!
    You and your kind
    Are killing rock and roll
    It’s not because you are O L D
    It’s cause you ain’t got no soul!
    Don’t be afraid of fun
    Loosen up your ponytail!
    Be wild, young, free and dumb
    Get your head out of your tail!
    Don Henley must die!
    Don’t let him get back together
    With Glenn Frey!

    Don Henley must die!
    Put him in the electric chair
    Watch him fry!
    Don Henley must die!
    Don Henley must die!
    Yea yea yea yea yea!
    No Eagles reunion!
    The same goes for you too, Sting!

    (Lyrics copped from some guys blog post…)

  4. general slocum

    The Eagles have always depressed the hell out of me. I never had any friends who liked them or owned their records, so there was never a chance of getting any contact appreciation of them at all. Their sound is one of those wishy-washy miasmas that make it hard to get through to the depressing lyrics. I believe they are indeed the troubadours-laureate of California culture, certainly of 70s California culture. But, as an East-coaster, that was also always a mystery to me. This could partly be due to having California on television having become far more real to the rest of the country than California in fact. Even the innocuous vision of the area portrayed in, say, The Bionic Woman, made me want to reach for the valium. The sound of the Eagles has the same barriers as the sound of the Byrds, to me. With the distinction that the Byrds often backed up their miasma with an easily graspable rock or country tune that could be apprehended through the beaded curtain. All of this is to say, that even a song like Hotel California, which I’ve heard as often as almost any song, is still a mystery to me. It could be a “good song” in some sense of structure or catchiness to some, or I don’t know what. I never even get close enough after all this exposure to comment on it being “an awful song.” It’s more that it’s weltanschaung® comes leaping out of the radio to club my psyche into oblivion before I can hear any notes or words. I wait through the song for a rescuing riff, scrap of humor, or apprehendable waft of humanity which never arrives.

  5. Mr. Moderator

    Townsman General Slocum wrote:

    I wait through the song for a rescuing riff, scrap of humor, or apprehendable waft of humanity which never arrives.


  6. I like to play air drums for the little calypso drum fill right after they “just can’t kill the beast”. I also appreciate when a guitar player takes the trouble to teach someone his guitar solo note for note in order to have a harmony lead. Is it catchiness, or just pure repetition that allows most of us to be able to sing out that entire ending solo.

  7. Mr. Moderator

    Well, you’re right about the hum-ability of the dual guitar solo. I’m not a fan of the calypso drum fill, but now that you mention that there is a little vocal aside that Henley does that I’ve been meaning to incorporate into one of our new songs. I still hate the song and can offer further proof that it’s horrible.

  8. BigSteve

    Just to acknowledge where this thread came from, there is a definitely reggae influence though I think it’s mixed with a generic south of the border vibe. Chickenfrank mentioned calypso, and I think there’s some Latino in there as well. Henley occasionally slips in a little pseudo Jamaican accent, doesn’t he?

  9. Mr. Moderator

    Henley occasionally slips in a little pseudo Jamaican accent, doesn’t he?

    Ugh, I think you’re right about that. Almost never a good practice. Take heed, tomorrow’s recording artists who are checking in on this thread!

  10. hrrundivbakshi

    Not that I needed to be reminded of how a song I must have heard one million times in junior high school goes, but… I just wasted five minutes of my life watching the vuh-deo of this song.

    Or, no, that’s not quite accurate. I actually watched three minutes of it, then switched it off in exasperation. There are a few small things I actually like about this song, but they are vastly outweighed by the bad. In sum:


    1. Joe Walsh’s hairy lead. Seriously, if it wasn’t for Uncle Joe, I swear that band would be utterly intolerable for me. Honest question: is Joe Walsh from the East coast or something?

    2. The guy who looks like a cross between Barry Gibb and Ted Neely in Jesus Christ Superstar — every minute or two, he’ll play a simple descending figure on the E string of his guitar which helps to pin the interminable, circuitous verse chord structure down. Bowrn, bowrn, bowwrnnnn… nice!


    1. That lyric! Ugh! Look, at the risk of going too far afield — many of you know that I have little patience for (what I perceive as) the naive self-indulgence of the hippie generation. I’ve always gotten the sense that everywhere *other than* California, folks sensibly walked away from the idiotic excesses of that time and culture when its day was done. In California, however, folks like the Eagles took the leftovers, warmed ’em up with a feathered hair/guaracha sandal/fern bar/”lovin'” vibe into a whole new universe of self-absorption. This lyric is that movement’s apotheosis, and I almost literally can’t listen to it. On a simpler level… what the fuck are they whining about anyway?!

    2. The symphonic dueling lead guitars. Too much “tastiness” by far. With an exemption granted to Joe Walsh and his crispity, crunchity riffing.

    3. The Look — sorry, but this song was drilled into my eyebulbs over and over and over again through this video when I was a youngster, so the visuals are an inescapable element for me. And no-one escapes blame. I see bad hair, bad denim, bad beards, bad shoes — bad everything.

    4. Worst misappropriation of a Rick 4001 in rock video history. Give that man the Alembic he so richly deserves!

    5. It’s too long!

  11. dbuskirk

    Speaking of the Hotel California, Wall of Sound producer Phil Spector has a murder trial starting today. If he is forced to check but never leave, will they let him keep take his wig collection with him? That’s a beautiful blonde one he’s wearing in the latest pictures, he looks like Shirley McLaine.

  12. Mr. Moderator

    Townsman Hrrundi asks:

    is Joe Walsh from the East coast or something?

    Weren’t he and the James Gang from the DC or Baltimore area? I seem to remember that being the case. If so, yes, that would explain a lot. No offense to any soft serve West Coaste Townspeople, of course.

  13. Mr. Moderator

    No wait – Joe Walsh and James Gang are from Cleveland. I just had a Drew Carey Show flashback.

  14. I can’t say how much I appreciate this “Hotel California” hate mail, and the degree to which all of you know every last little detail of this song which you can’t stand but which lies, embedded, deep in the hearts of every single one of you.

    “Hotel California,” in its majestic awfulness, is the ultimate death-knell of rock and roll, just as the pop culture of California is the ultimate death-knell of American art and culture. It was the end of the dream that we had always wanted, it turned out–a culture with no values, with no taste, where open-shirted men drove off into the dark night of their own meaninglessness self-obsessions.

    Face it: after “Hotel California,” rock and roll was dead, forever, choked on its own contradictions. Punk was already fighting against that death, briefly, and was already losing. Alternative rock like Mojo Nixon would insult it in the pouty wine of immature fucks who could barely play and who were only angry because the same empty multi-platinum deal didn’t wait at the end of their own self-obsessed rainbows. But the deal was struck, the devil had been met at the crossroads. No song so perfectly expresses the whole naive mistake that rock and roll had been. Your girls, your champagne, your pills, your rock and roll party, none of it meant anything to you really, even while, at the same time, they were the only set of values you’d ever actually had.

    I can’t say how much I appreciate Mr. Mod calling the song “horrible.” Indeed it is, but the problem is that none of you can even fathom how horrible a song it is. You can run from Hotel California, but you can’t hide. You can check out, but you can never leave. I guarantee you; that song will be playing long after you’ve stopped playing. Late at night, the hotel will still be open, and you’ll be welcome to stop in.

    Of course, every now and then, in the distant future, someone would try to resuscitate this dead beast whose name, rock and roll, sounded now like the thunder created by some long forgotten God. They would create museums, and blogs that sounded like museums: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rocktown Hall. They would debate drum fills and guitar solos, rock faces. They would argue furiously about who, among the emasculated, still had “balls.” But they were, at best, amusing themselves, giving themselves something to do for a few minutes before getting in their cars and driving home from work. Some of them had even discovered that their lives were pretty good anyway, that life could be lived without rock and roll. And if they felt a little smaller, a little more narrow than the day before, well, who hasn’t been disappointed sometimes?

    But there had been something else there once, hadn’t there? A sense that music was fun and interesting and mattered? What a foolish thought that had been. This was the good life, after all. You could wear a suit and tie, order a cheap margarita, cheat on your wife. The future was yours.

    I look forward to your angry denials; “Hotel California” has a special room for that.

  15. hrrundivbakshi

    Townsman Mwall, thanks for a thoughtful post. Even if it does make me want to slit my wrists.

  16. general slocum

    Mr. Mwall’s e-mail is like a distillation of the bleak, self-involved plodding spirit of that song! How do you people do that out there? Anyhow, suffice to say my denial isn’t angry. I am, as anyone around Emmaus could quickly point out, neither smaller nor narrower than yesterday! If it helps to believe that no rock and roll came out after 1976, or that punk rock was already dea in 1976 (?), then go right ahead. There is no fly paper in Hotel California. Just don’t drink while you’re taking whatever it is you’re on. I won’t argue that rock and roll is alive and well, but if that’s the nail you’re hanging your ideological hat on, you’ve got bigger problems than the death of rock. And gods have nothing to do with it.

  17. there is a little vocal aside that Henley does that I’ve been meaning to incorporate into one of our new songs.

    Andy start practicing “she got the Mercedes Bends, UHH!”

  18. On one hand , mwall’s post is a brilliant treatise on the truly destructive nature of The Eagles and this song, and how their efforts reverberate to this day in this very hall. On the other hand, though, it only makes sense if you accept boomer totems like “Hotel California” as the end-all and be-all. Is rock ‘n’ roll strictly a boomer creation. I posit that it is not.

  19. The Who had sung “We won’t get fooled again,” and from many quarters, for decades after, groups of young artists would gather together, chanting that insistent counter-mantra. But “Hotel California” had told them differently: they could be fooled, endlessly, and they wanted to be fooled. They sought after new values, new commitments, but never without the doubt that they were, somehow, not only being fooled, but that they were also doing it to themselves. Was the world really “Hotel California” after all? And if it wasn’t, how would they know?

  20. Reminds me of our discussion on “Psychic Oblivion.” What I think you’re getting at with your somewhat nihilistic reading of the song is how it is really about being in love with your own despair. Which ultimately becomes a rather pathetic way to live. Me, I’d rather “take it to the limit one more time.”

  21. general slocum

    Mwall fuddles:
    Was the world really “Hotel California” after all? And if it wasn’t, how would they know?

    I caution:
    Come come, now. This whole world view is as shallow as an art-nouveau coke mirror. Don’t mistake the plot of the Matrix for depth. It’s sad that the Who wouldn’t get fooled again, because they were so much better when they were. But scads of young dopes like me shuffled along right behind to be fooled again by punk rock. You’re suppOSed to be fooled in your twenties. It is an essential period of growth. I argue the Eagles were never fooled, just very high and depressed. It’s different. And as for being so familiar with a song you hate? Jesus. Is that an argument for quality? “Well it’s niiine, o’clock on a Saturday…”

  22. For despite its shallowness, despite the way in which it was, transparently, in love with its own despair–indeed in fact BECAUSE of its shallowness, because it loved its own despair–“Hotel California” had become a stone-cold rock and roll classic, as undeniable as a continent. It was a treatise that, taken in all its pieces, was such a perfect example of how to go wrong that many far superior pieces of music had no staying power against its onslaught. Its errors would be emulated, again and again, until at times it seemed that all of American popular music continued to writhe in its shadow. Like all pieces of genuine pop culture greatness, from Frankenstein to Superman, it was such a tour-de-force that reality had no chance against it, and people sang it for decades by the millions. Feed us the beast, they cried, we want to eat the beast and become him. After all, why want to be a policeman when you could be Sherlock Holmes? Why play music when you could live a rock and roll lifestyle, and go down, alone, to a glorious death, your face framed in a mirror that, once you were dead, you could look in forever, while the ghost of everyone else looked in along with you?

  23. BigSteve

    The characters in the song (and maybe the Eagles themselves?) imagine that their failure elevates them to the level of tragic heroes, but they’re really just pathetic losers. Is that why the attempt at an epic musical arrangement falls so flat? Is it actually the perfect analogue for the lyrics? If so, the fact the song is ultimately unsatisfying would be appropriate, but it wouldn’t make me want to listen to it. I guess mwall’s argument is that the people who claim to love it don’t understand how foolish this makes them look. Even feeling superior to them makes me feel ill.

  24. saturnismine

    i’m with fritz…

    the good thing about this song is walsh, when he comes zooming in on that slightly phased tele.

    fritz, “the other guy” is don felder. he’s a real tasteful compliment to walsh here.


  25. general slocum

    Mwall posits:
    Its errors would be emulated, again and again, until at times it seemed that all of American popular music continued to writhe in its shadow.

    I request:
    Could you, preferably in that beautiful Crowley-esque language (with a touch of Poe) describe how, for example, Don’t Fear the Reaper, Like a Virgin, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Funky Cold Medina seem to writhe in the shadow of Hotel California? And what kind of goofballs are you hopped up on? That shit kicks its own sort of obtuse ass.

  26. The Eagles during the Ho Cal era were rock royalty. They were acknowledged kings of that California scene and enjoyed massive popularity throughout the US. Their lives were made up of unending days of perfect weather, endless beaches, humbolt’s finest herb, lines on the mirror, tequila sunrises, cavorting with California Girls and actresses, and still having enough free time to work out long harmony lead solos.

    They were so popular the Governor would hang out with these afro’d faux hippie cowboys. Their lives were so absolutely perfect, the only thing they could complain about on that album was that they had TOO MUCH of all those awesome things listed.

    Self analysis has led me to believe part of my immense loathing of their whole vibe was just pure jealosy that I could never fly like an Eagle. I’ve come all the way out the other side. I only feel a slight amusement any time a Ho Cal song comes on the radio now, and usually listen all the way through. I don’t find it or them to be any kind of stake in the ground as it felt like at the time of issue. (unrelated: (or is it?) isn’t Eagles Greatest Hits the best selling album in history?)

  27. It was the absolute purity of its own self-regard that raised “Hotel California” from a mere song to the status of myth. Rock and roll had insisted that the freedom of the individual was about life; “Hotel California” insisted that the final goal of individual freedom was death, and that death was just fine, since the other options just really weren’t worth it. Had American pop culture really become about the chance to have it your own way, all the time, without the impediments of other people, and was it finally true that such a desire was equivalent, finally, to the desire to die, since living was messy and difficult and unfree, and it might after all be preferable to die in one’s dreams? Pop culture would take up that question again and again, insist that pure love of self was not about death, and pop music would feed its audience that love again and again, saying, “Here, this is life, take of it and eat.” But “Hotel California” was still there, grinning, insisting that there was another side to the equation, that you partook of pop culture because you wanted OUT of life. You wanted not to work, you wanted not to achieve, you wanted to sit on your ass and then go on vacation forever and die there, with luck right on the beach, as you watched the setting sun leaving America. And it was hard not to believe that, on some level, this was the message that pop culture was sending. As bad a song as it was, in some objective sense, there was another sense in which “Hotel California” was one of the most terrifying tunes ever penned. Not because it was true, but because every line of it, every note, was such a perfect expression of its own falseness that it mirrored the problems of a culture.

    When something becomes myth, then argument, good sense, reason, all become helpless against it, because it is always the power of myth to overwhelm these things. You can call it stupid, and it is. You can say it’s a lie, and it is. But a myth doesn’t care, a myth lives on because one can believe in it regardless of the facts. Wasn’t that what it meant to be a fanatic? To believe in the truth of yourself and your beliefs, no matter any evidence to the contrary? “Hotel California” didn’t even have to bother to know any of these things; they were just there, for the taking by whoever got there first, like the final line of coke at the party.

  28. Mr. Moderator

    Last night I was writing a friend about, among other things, some of the things I get out of Rock Town Hall. Not to kill the party with self-reflection, but days like this are what it’s all about. I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s butt by saying I agree with everything that’s been posted. I look forward to continuing to agree with all comments in full knowledge of the eventual Pince Nez moment when someone corrects someone else about the exact start date of Timothy B. Schmitt (sp? – I know it’s not Schmidt), as supported by an AMG link. Bravo, Townsman Mwall! Bravo, Townspeople.

  29. BigSteve

    Come on, mwall, it’s just a rock song. no need to go all Greil Marcus on our asses.

  30. So to put it in psychoanalytic terms, the song is about the connections between the sex drive and death drive, and the Eagles are the manifestation of the id of rock gone rotten.

    Indeed, it is the very inability to satiate desire that seems to have the characters of the song so bummed out.

    What the song reveals, for better or worse, is how pop culture exploits our longings, giving us empty substitutes for what it si we think we want.

    And of course the Hotel California ethos, if you will, is about the complete lack of self-reflection, the one thing that allows one to leave at will.

  31. general slocum

    Mwall needs an intervention. Hotel Bleeding California isn’t McNamara. It isn’t even a Roth novel, or an essay in the New Yorker. It doesn’t say a tenth of the things you believe it says. It might indeed be painful to take the responsibility that those are *your* thoughts, coming from you, but stand up, now, at your computer, and say it loud: “I’M STONED, AND I MAY JUST POSSIBLY WANT TO DIE – ON A BEACH, OR MAYBE IN A HOTEL, EITHER METAPHORICAL OR ACTUAL!” It’ll feel good.

  32. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, General —

    Look, I’m only saying this ’cause I *care*, mannn… but, uh, I’m thinking that maybe you could use a little check-up from the neck up. I mean, Mwall’s comments and concerns about Hotel California are really bothering you for some reason, and I think you need to put things into perspective. I just think a little professional help, from somebody who’s seen this all before, might make you *happier*. I just want you to be happy, dude. That’s all. Just happy.

  33. Just be happy? A six inch line of Peruvian flake would probably do the trick. I never considered there was that depth of meaning to the Eagles, but they probably did, so Wally may be stating exactly what they meant to convey. I considered it one of those hypocritical warnings from someone that spent the last 10 years as a complete bacchanalian hedonist but is now cautioning “I’ve been down that highway, man, don’t do it, it’s just a dead end”. Yeah, you already had your fun! (was George W.Bush in the Eagles?)

  34. general slocum

    Hey Hrrundo,look. Go and get your orange robe dry-cleaned and get back to the airport. You can’t do the roundabout-“You’re-crazeee” message in response to a roundabout-“You’re-crazeee” message. It’s a whole syntax and linguistics thing. But thanks for caring, man.

    And as I’ve said before, I find his posts pretty engaging. But I smell an RTH hoax. Mwall and you, saying how bothered and upset everyone is, when people generally aren’t, and Mr. Mod saying what a red-letter day this has been for him on RTH. So, out: red-herring? Fess up.

  35. Mr. Moderator

    No hoax on my end. This is a red-letter day by my book. This is what it’s all about: Townspeople asking questions, supplying answers, disagreeing, getting tweaked, gaining new insights…and eventually experiencing the inevitable joys of healing.

  36. No hoax on my end either. I was simply describing what the song is about, whether it intended to or not (who cares), and the effect it had and still has on a culture where, somewhere in the state, it’s playing on some radio station almost at all moments of every day, and has been for the last 30 years.

    Of course, the Biblical/Dark Magic tone was all in fun, or at least partly. “Hotel California” is a parable that wants to be prophecy, and here in California it’s treated as a holy text. I was simply providing, both reverently and satirically, the necessary worship.

  37. general slocum

    Mr. Mod catharts:
    disagreeing, getting tweaked, gaining new insights…and eventually experiencing the inevitable joys of healing.

    When family members are walking by in the kitchen, do you stick your foot out, just to experience the healing that will follow? That *is* a legitimate road to serenity, by the way.

  38. BigSteve

    Is ‘healing’ kind of like make-up sex?

  39. KingEd

    Glen Frey escapes unscathed from this discussion. Who woulda thunk it?

    I hate you, Mod and mwall, for making me think about that song all day yesterday. Steve was right from the beginning: the drumming sucks.

  40. Coupla years ago, I had the dubious pleasure of seeing The Eagles and Don Henley solo within a few weeks of each other. I was able to write that, while there were positives and negatives to each configuration, the solo Henley band had the advantage of a better drummer.

  41. BigSteve

    Los Lobos learned this lesson the hard way too. If you’re forming a band based around songwriters, don’t assign one of the writers to the drum chair just because everybody can’t all play rhythm guitar.

    Los Lobos for a while there was using Jim Keltner on their records, which is a significant upgrade. They eventually hired on a touring drummer who’s decent, and I think he’s been on the recent records. Live, Louie Perez straps on a guitar now, even though the band already has two first-rate guitarists.

    And btw when we were having the discussion a week or two ago about drummer songwriters, Louie Perez may have been the guy I couldn’t dig out of the back of my mind, probably because David Hidalgo generally sings the songs they write together.

    Did Henley’s name come up in that discussion. I never had much use for the Eagles, but I think some of his solo work has been quite good — Boys of Summer, even Dirty Laundry, but especially Last Worthless Evening. He’s not really a very good singer though.

  42. Mr. Moderator

    VH1 Classics was showing The Last Waltz last night, and I couldn’t switch the station once I stumbled onto that movie, maybe the second- or third-most influential movie of my lifetime. Anyhow, how great was Levon Helm as a singing drummer?

  43. I’m glad Helm came up. I was wondering, watching that Hotel California video, how much Henley tried to model himself after Helm, albeit in a watered down way, obviously.

  44. BigSteve

    Look at how wooden Henley is in the video. He works so hard at reproducing his meticulous drum parts, he might as well be a robot. By contrast, look at Levon’s body english — he’s practically dancing sitting down.

    As Nick Lowe once said, “Drummers should never sing, unless they’re Levon Helm.”

    “How great was he as a singing drummer?” I imagine he’d be in the first rank as either a singer or a drummer. Combined? Without equal.

  45. Don Henley is right up there with Mike Love on my list of people I can do without. 😉

  46. I think the (northeast philly) people who like this song the most, and sing it together at (my family’s) parties and stuff, don’t have any sense of what it’s about. I think a lot of them think there’s a real hotel in California that all the Eagles partied at or something. I think those of us who have studied it, are all at once mystified, jealous, broken, dissapointed, hurt, angered and saddened by it’s lyrical/musical content. Some of us will never get over it.

  47. Mr. Moderator

    Townsman Shawn, you’re a Northeast Philly guy too? How far up? I grew up not fitting in whatsoever in Parkwood.

    There is the real hotel that’s on the cover of the album, right? It’s in the San Diego area. I was going to go see it last time I was there, maybe just so I could piss in the lobby. I’m headed out there in a couple of weeks. Maybe I’ll save up for then.

  48. Summerdale
    Castor Gardens
    Rhawn and the Blvd
    Morrel Park(nrtheast airport)
    I lived in all these neighborhoods by the time I was 12.
    Viva la Parkwood

  49. as for the hotel, I’m sure it’s really there, but not the way the eagles mean it…and certainly not the way hessians think they mean it.

  50. as for the hotel, I’m sure it’s really there, but not the way the eagles mean it…

    The Hotel Coronado is indeed a famous San Diego landmark, visited by people from all over the world. Like much of Southern California, the relationship between the actual hotel and the mythical hotel of the song is very complicated. But you can be sure that many people have gone there in search of the mythical hotel, and that the actual hotel was built, in part, to be a mythical hotel. You’d have to live in Southern California to really understand, I would bet, but our fantasies and our realities are very intertwined around here.

  51. Mr. Moderator

    Here’s a question for you, Townsman Mwall: If Is it checking into the actual hotel or the mythical one the check-in from which I could never leave?

  52. You can never leave the mythical hotel. However, while you can leave the actual hotel, the actual bill you pay for staying at the actual hotel may follow you for quite some time.

  53. You’re only a few “actuals” from having me think that you might be Stanley J Krammerhead III Jr., narrator from The Rutles’ “All You Need Is Cash”.


  54. Mr. Moderator

    Nice one, Townsman Michael K!

  55. Thanks for nothing, Rock Town Hall, for lodging this fucking song in my brain earlier this morning. Thankfully, I then spent a half-hour in a coffeeshop that had Neko Case on the sound system. Whew!

  56. tonyola

    My attitude towards the Eagles is like how I feel about Billy Joel – I am not a fan in any way, shape, or form but I just don’t understand the festering, virulent hatred towards the artists. While I never, ever need to here “Hotel California” (or “Heartache Tonight”) again, the Eagles were at least competent and occasionally made decent radio fodder. So what if they were sometimes smug? There were plenty of far worse songs on the radio in early 1977. I would never own an Eagles record but they don’t make me dive for the mute button either.

  57. Happiness Stan

    Reading this thread made me realise that even though I heard the song what felt like hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times in the summer of 1977 (while trying to find something even remotely resembling punk on what remained of British pirate radio – having given up on the diet of Olivia Newton John/ELO that Radio One was serving up), that I had never paid any attention to any of the lyrics other than the first line of the chorus, and after reading the Hall’s analysis also rejoiced that no part of the arrangement, instrumentation or production had managed to permeate my musical consciousness. It is as though the song does not exist.

    I knew I was getting old when, without any pang of self-betrayal, I picked up a copy of “Rumours”, the album I reviled with equal passion in those testosterone-fuelled days, for a few pence at a jumble sale a few years back. I am as certain as I am of anything in this life that I would never, ever, ever part with even the smallest coin of the realm on an Eagles record (or even accept a free one if it were given to me).

  58. tonyola

    I don’t think there’s any shame in liking Rumours these days. While it was desperately overplayed to the point of madness in the late ’70s, the album was extremely well-crafted and remains a pleasant listen as long as one doesn’t overdo it.

  59. Just read through this thread and – Damn! You all could’ve emerged unscathed from the Hotel California if only you had titled it “How Can You Say ‘Hotel California’ is a ‘Horrible Song?'” in 200 words or less.

    Anyway, it is my contention that when this thing ( went to the top of the pop-country charts in the 90’s, it was the the rock n roll door closing on the 70’s Cali scene. Once it is absorbed into mainstream country it becomes conservative/unquestionable/unalterable/dead.

  60. I think it is important to point out that none of these suburban Nashville cowboys attempts “Hotel California” itself, the biggest target in that particular universe.

  61. 2000 Man

    I am not watching and listening to that video. No way. I’m with Lebowski on this one. I hate the fucking Eagles, man…

  62. cliff sovinsanity

    Confession: I LOVE “New Kid In Town”
    I’m guessing that should be sufficient proof that my RTH card should be revoked.

  63. patrock

    I was a bartender at a club here in SF. I was working a show with 5 bands on the bill of which I can’t remember any names but they packed the house. So I was subjected to hours and hours of antagonistic and angular noise rock, which was just grating and fucking loud. The second to last band’s very Butthole Surfers inspired set ended with the singer sitting on the ground, frying a pan of bacon with a hotplate, screaming through distortion and echo while the band was just hammering through a feedback wall.

    After about 45 minutes the band ended the noise right into a dead stop, there was a split second of silence and then I hear the opening chords to “Hotel California” and it was really loud. I suddenly felt like I just went to a Chiropractor, took a Vicodin and got a hand job. Our DJ that night would often have some unusual segways but this one was so absolutely brilliant.

    So, say what you will about Hotel California, it’s dumb lyrics, that Don Henley’s snare drum sounds like a leather suitcase, or that Joe Walsh wears coke bottles for glasses. On this night, in this context, “Hotel California” was the most amazing thing I had ever heard in my life.

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