Side A of the U.S. single
|Single by Eagles|
|from the album Hotel California|
|B-side||"Pretty Maids All in a Row"|
|Writer(s)||Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey|
|Eagles singles chronology|
"Hotel California" is the title track from the Eagles' album of the same name and was released as a single in February 1977. It is one of the best-known Eagles songs. Writing credits for the song are shared by Don Felder (music), Don Henley, and Glenn Frey (lyrics). The Eagles' original recording of the song features Henley singing the lead vocals and concludes with an extended section of electric guitar interplay between Felder and Joe Walsh. The song has been given several interpretations by fans and critics alike, but the Eagles have described it as their "interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles". In the 2013 documentary History of the Eagles, Henley said that the song was about "a journey from innocence to experience...that's all".
History and recognition
"Hotel California" topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for one week in May 1977 and peaked at number 10 on the Easy Listening chart. Billboard ranked it number 19 on its 1977 Pop Singles year-end chart. Three months after its first release, the single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), representing one million copies shipped. The Eagles also won the 1977 Grammy Award for Record of the Year for "Hotel California" at the 20th Grammy Awards in 1978.
In 2009, the song was certified Platinum (Digital Sales Award) by the RIAA for sales of one million digital downloads.
The music for the song originated from a demo written and recorded by Don Felder and given to Don Henley and Glenn Frey to write lyrics. The song is rated highly in many rock music lists and polls; Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number 49 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". It is also one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The song's guitar solo was voted the best solo of all time by readers of Guitarist magazine in 1998 and was ranked 8th on Guitar Magazine 's Top 100 Guitar Solos. The song was also included in the music video game Guitar Hero World Tour. It was most recently voted the #1 12-string guitar song by Guitar World magazine.
As one of the group's most popular and well-known songs, "Hotel California" has been a concert staple for the band since its release. Performances of the song appear on the Eagles' 1980 live album, and in an acoustic version on the 1994 Hell Freezes Over reunion concert CD and video release. The Hell Freezes Over version is performed using eight guitars and has a decidedly Spanish sound, with Don Felder's flamenco-inspired arrangement and intro. During the band's Farewell 1 Tour-Live from Melbourne, the song was performed in a manner closer to the original 1977 album version, but with a trumpet intro before the actual start of the song.
Glenn Frey described the origins of the song:
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".
The lyrics weave a surrealistic tale in which a weary traveler checks into a luxury hotel. The hotel at first appears inviting and tempting, but it turns out to be a nightmarish place where "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave". The song is an allegory about hedonism, self-destruction, and greed in the music industry of the late 1970s. Don Henley called it "our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles" and later reiterated: "It's basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about." In 2008, Don Felder described the origins of the lyrics:
Don Henley and Glenn wrote most of the words. All of us kind of drove into L.A. at night. Nobody was from California, and if you drive into L.A. at night... you can just see this glow on the horizon of lights, and the images that start running through your head of Hollywood and all the dreams that you have, and so it was kind of about that... what we started writing the song about. Coming into L.A.... and from that 'Life in the Fast Lane' came out of it, and 'Wasted Time' and a bunch of other songs.
On "Hotel California," you sing: "So I called up the captain / 'Please bring me my wine' / He said, 'We haven't had that spirit here since 1969.'" I realize I'm probably not the first to bring this to your attention, but wine isn't a spirit. Wine is fermented; spirits are distilled. Do you regret that lyric?
Thanks for the tutorial and, no, you're not the first to bring this to my attention—and you're not the first to completely misinterpret the lyric and miss the metaphor. Believe me, I've consumed enough alcoholic beverages in my time to know how they are made and what the proper nomenclature is. But that line in the song has little or nothing to do with alcoholic beverages. It's a sociopolitical statement. My only regret would be having to explain it in detail to you, which would defeat the purpose of using literary devices in songwriting and lower the discussion to some silly and irrelevant argument about chemical processes.
According to Glenn Frey's liner notes for The Very Best Of, the use of the word "steely" in the lyric, "They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast," was a playful nod to the band Steely Dan, who had included the lyric "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening" in their song "Everything You Did".
The metaphorical character of the story related in the lyrics has inspired a number of conjectural interpretations by listeners. In the 1980s some Christian evangelists alleged that "Hotel California" referred to a San Francisco hotel that was purchased by Anton LaVey and converted into a Church of Satan. Other rumors suggested that the Hotel California was the Camarillo State Mental Hospital.
Cover art for single
The front cover art for some editions of the 45rpm single was a reworked version of the Hotel California LP cover art, which used a photograph of the Beverly Hills Hotel by David Alexander, with design and art direction by Kosh.
|This section relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (April 2012)|
The intro and verse's chord pattern counts eight measures, each one assigned to a single chord. Seven different chords are used in the eight measures. As the song opens, it is not until the eighth measure that a chord is repeated. The song is initially in the key of B-minor.
The chords are played as follows:
The eight measure sequence is repeated in the intro, for each verse and in the outro, providing the harmonic framework for the entire extended dual guitar solo at the end of the song. One explanation of the progression is that it is a common flamenco chord progression called the "Spanish progression" (i-VII-VI-V in a phrygian context) that is interspersed with consecutive fifths.
This chord sequence is not a commonly used progression and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull has pointed out its similarity to his song "We Used to Know" from their 1969 album Stand Up, suggesting the Eagles heard it when they toured together. While the Eagles had opened for Jethro Tull in June 1972, Don Felder, who wrote the music, did not join the band until 1974. Felder has said that he had never heard "We Used to Know".
- or assuming a key of D:
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||250,000^|
|United States (RIAA)
|United States (RIAA)
*sales figures based on certification alone
- Don Henley - lead & backing vocals, drums, percussion
- Glenn Frey - 12-string acoustic guitar, backing vocals
- Don Felder - 12- and 6-string electric guitars, backing vocals
- Joe Walsh - electric guitar, backing vocals
- Randy Meisner - bass, backing vocals
Cover versions and parodies
Many cover versions of "Hotel California" have been released:
- Al B. Sure! released a version on his album Private Times...and the Whole 9! (1990).
- Alabama 3: on their album La Peste (2000).
- Buranovskie Babushki - in Udmurt
- Micheal Castaldo covered this song via an Italian version, in his album Bergamot.
- Igor Džambazov - "Hotel Macedonia" - Version with lyrics in Macedonian, promoting the country of Macedonia.
- Majek Fashek released a reggae version, often incorrectly credited to Bob Marley.
- Gipsy Kings: A flamenco version with Spanish lyrics, released in 1988 and later featured in the film The Big Lebowski.
- Sam Hui recorded a version in 1977.
- William Hung: A 2004 version recorded by the American Idol contestant.
- Lydia Lunch & Cypress Grove record their own version on the album "Twin Horses"
- Marilyn Manson performed a live version at a wrap party for the TV series Californication.
- Moonraisers released a 1998 reggae version, with several remixes recorded.
- Frank Ocean released a version on his mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra (2011), entitled "American Wedding"
- Rascal Flatts performed a country version at the 2007 Grammy Awards.
- Rhythms del Mundo released a 2009 version from their album Classics, featuring The Killers.
- Max Romeo released a reggae version on his album Something is Wrong (1999).
- Roo'ra released a version on their second album "날개 잃은 천사" ("Angel Without Wings") (1995).
- Nancy Sinatra covered it on the album Nancy Sinatra - California Girl.
- SkaDaddyZ released a reggae/ska version in 1999.
- Sylvain Cossette French Canadian singer: released in 2008 on his cover album 70's Volume 2.
- Tangerine Dream covered it on their 2010 album Under Cover - Chapter One.
- The Cat Empire: A French jazz, (L'Hotel de Californie) with French lyrics, recorded for Triple J's Like a Version segment and subsequent CD compilation. A live rendition of L'Hotel de Californie from a show in Montréal appeared on their live album Live on Earth (2009).
- The Moog Cookbook released a version on their album Ye Olde Space Bande (1997).
- Timeflies released a remix on YouTube using the chorus and a few similar lines from the original song.
- The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain feature the song in "Fly Me (Off The Handel)", in which it is sung simultaneously with other songs of the same chord pattern.
- Romania-based Vama Veche released a version sung in Romanian on their second album, but with alternative lyrics dealing with the dreadful living conditions in Romanian student dormitories in the late nineties. The song is titled "Hotel Cişmigiu".
- Cuban group Vocal Sampling recorded an a cappella version of the song on their 2008 album, Akapelleando.
- Christian parody band ApologetiX redid the song as "Hotel Can't Afford Ya", about Jesus' nativity, on their album Jesus Christ Morningstar.
- Brazilian comic TV show Comédia MTV released a version entitled "Hotel Diadema" (referring to the city of Diadema).
- Gomez et Dubois - "Hotel commissariat" (French).
- Country music parodist Cledus T. Judd parodied the song as "Motel Californie" on his 1995 debut album Cledus T. Judd (No Relation).
- Mike Piranha recorded "Hotel Honolulu", satirizing overdevelopment, crime, and other issues on Oahu, which became a local hit in Hawaii.
- "Brand new classics". Mail & Guardian. October 31, 1997. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
- Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
- History of the Eagles, 2013
- "Pop Singles" Billboard December 24, 1977: TIA-64
- Grammy Award winners
- "Gold & Platinum - Diamond Certifications". RIAA. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
- "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. December 9, 2004. Archived from the original on December 14, 2006.
- The Top 100 Solos of All Time
- The Top 100 Solos of All Time
- Crowe, Cameron. "Conversations with Don Henley and Glenn Frey" (The Very Best Of liner notes) (2003)
- DeMain, Bill (2006). "Rock's Greatest Urban Legends". Performing Songwriter 13 (92). pp. 50–55. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. October 28, 2011.
- "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: The Eagles, 'Hotel California'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
- Reported by Steve Krofts, Producers: Graham Messick and Michael Karzis (June 15, 2008). "The Long Run". 60 Minutes. CBS.
- "Don Felder interview segment". The Howard Stern Show. Sirius Satellite Radio. 2008-07-17.
- De Artega y Pereira, Fernando. Practical Spanish (1902): 243
- Ostler, Scott. "Rockin' 'Round the Round" San Francisco Chronicle February 5, 2003
- Avant-Mier, Roberto. Rock the Nation: Latin/o Identities and the Latin Rock Diaspora (2010): 81-82
- Soeder, John. "Don Henley gets into the spirit talking about 'Hotel California'" The Plain Dealer March 20, 2009: T14
- Liner Notes - The Very Best of the Eagles
- Denisoff, R. Serge; Schurk, William. Tarnished Gold: The Record Industry Revisited (1986): 407
- Stoffels, Kenneth. "Minister Links Rock, Sympathy for the Devil" The Milwaukee Sentinel September 28, 1982: 6
- Bishop, Greg. Weird California (2006): 228
- Ochs, Micheael. 1000 Record Covers. Taschen. ISBN 3-8228-4085-8.
- Tillekens, Ger. "Locked into the Hotel California: Or, expanding the Spanish progression". Soundscapes.info, 2006, Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- Feenstra, Pete (September 2012). "Interview: Don Felder". Get Ready to Rock. hotdigitsnewmedia group. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
- "Italian single certifications – Eagles – Hotel California" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved May 2, 2013. Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Eagles in the field Filtra. The certification will load automatically
- "British single certifications – Eagles – Hotel California". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 14, 2013. Enter Hotel California in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
- "American single certifications – Eagles – Hotel California". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 2, 2013. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
- Appel, Rich (December 10, 2014). "Revisionist History, Holiday Edition: Mariah Gets a 'Christmas' Gift, Wham! Gets the Boot". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
- "Livin’ it up with a parody of paradise: Mike Piranha's 'Hotel Honolulu' gets airplay and guffaws". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. June 8, 1998. Retrieved 2015-08-20.
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