But You Can Never Leave

Now you’ve done it. You’ve got me onto The Rawk. This could be either good, or bad, depending on your opinion of classic rock.

Amongst the dusty recesses of my (virtual – the Other Half has put all our cds onto a hard disk the size of a planet–that’s why they call it a terabyte, isn’t it?–which I somewhat predictably cannot work) record collection, you will find a copy of the Eagles’ “Hotel California“. God, I love that album.*

Thing is, I was poking around the internet the other day, as you do, and I stumbled across all the urban legends connected to it–mostly to the title track and the album artwork. I had no idea.

They’re even more fruit-loops than most internet rumours: that the song is about Devil-worship (really? Really?); that it’s a hymn to an actual hotel, or an asylum, and that the album artwork is full of images of the dead and Anton LaVey (ooookay).

The interpretation’s obviously a sore point. For an example of the most incredible songwriter-smackdown, read Don Henley’s response to a music critic’s comment on the lines: “So I called up the Captain / Please bring me my wine, / He said: We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969″

“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.”


Mind you, growing up with it (which I did) I always had it pegged as a song about the descent into addiction, so what do I know?

Whichever way you cut it, it’s still a damn fine song.

Even in Spanish.


*with the possible exception of “Try and Love Again” which is, you know, a bit meh.


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