“Hotel California” by The Eagles is truly one of mysterious songs with its lyrics and message provoking many guesses and theories. Indeed, the lyrics seems strange but the story of how the melody was created is quite mandane. However, there is still a chance that the song mysterious roots)))
Origin of Hotel California
According to Don Felder who originated The Eagle’s great hit, the melody was composed in a beach house on Malibu Beach in 1976. It was a spectacular day, and Don was just playing “what came to his mind” improvising on his guitar — a 12-string Takamine. It’s a curious fact that after release of “Hotel California”, Takamine, the little-known Japanese firm, became world famous.
So, Felder was tinkling around with his guitar, making small melodic solos when Hotel California’ chords just oozed out. The melody was perfect and almost complete. “Every once in a while it seems like the cosmos part and something great plops into your lap,” Felder says.
Don did his job and it only remained to give the finishing touches to the music and add the lyrics — Frey and Henley came through it.
"Hotel California" was released as single in February 1977 and topped the major music charts right away. Moreover, the meaning of the song became a hot-button issue attracting controversy.
As the story unfolds, a weary wanderer stops at a mysterious Hotel California which seems attractive in the beginning. Later on, it turns into a scary place. The wanderer tries to get out but fails.
There were many talks about the real meaning behind the song.
Some people believed that “Hotel California” refers to a prison or a mental hospital. Others claimed that the song describes a typical path of a drug addict trapped in a sweet delusion and unable to escape.
In favor of this version, the lyrics is a Spanish word “colitas” (meaning tails or top of the cannabis plant).
People supporting the drug version of the song also suggested that the song was written as a tribute to Gram Parsons (popular Country Rock singer). In 1973 he died of drug abuse in Joshua Tree Inn, California.
The third popular version claims that the lyrics metaphorically refers to a Scottish mansion of a dark magician Aleister Crowley...
In 2007, Don Henley and Glenn Frey who authored the lyrics, told about their understanding of the great hit. First, they confirmed that Hotel California was a metaphor.
Second, Frey mentioned that the song “explores the underbelly of success, the darker side of Paradise”. In fact, the song refers to the second weak point of the American Dream. It’s about people’s dreams and aspirations for beautiful life and eternal pursuit of any and all goods. Thus, a person ends up in a crazy, exhausting race unable to get out of this sick cycle. According to the musicians, Los Angeles and Hollywood in particular was a typical example of such a race.
It remains a question if it was actually the truth or The Eagles were just tired of rumors.
The Eagles on tour in Nevada (1979)
Interesting facts about Hotel California
- People say that Felder did not get the Hotel California tune “from above” - he just... remembered it and changed a bit... Originally, the melody came from “We Used to Know" by "Jethro Tull" released in 1969. In fact, the two bands knew each other and even had joint tours. Ian Anderson ("Jethro Tull" frontman) at a BBC interview once mentioned in joking way that it was a sort of tribute to The Eagles. Well, you know “in every joke…”. Indeed, the melody itself, the harmony and the chord sequence in these two tracks are very similar. Listen to "We Used to Know" and check this out HERE
- The Hotel California album cover features The Beverly Hills Hotel also known as “Pink Palace” that was popular among many Hollywood stars.
- Sad fact. 7 days before the tragic crash of Columbia Space Shuttle, its crew had been listening to “Hotel California” performed by Lany, wife of the astronaut William McCool. The track was played from the Earth to wake up the crew.
Best guitar covers of Hotel California
As a very popular and loved-by-many song, “Hotel California” has many guitar covers. The GuitarSolo.info offers three variants of this composition played by different authors.
One is performed by Roman Chernov in C Minor, and two other are played in E Minor by Vladimir Panokin and Maxim Chigintsev.
I particularly like the “Hotel California” guitar cover by Maxim Chigintsev.
Let’s listen and check this fascinating guitar performance out.
Author’s sheet music and tabs for the “Hotel California” guitar cover are HERE
Play and enjoy!
See you soon with new beautiful melodies and interesting guitar arrangements and covers.
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May the guitar force be with you!
Yours sincerely, Sergei Borodin