Eagles are the quintessential American band and their 1976 track ‘Hotel California’ embodies everything the iconic act resembles, detailing the romanticism from the perspective of the protagonist as they carry out their search for their own American dream.
‘Hotel California’ is the titular track from their seminal LP which is one of the best selling records of all time having sold over 32 million copies worldwide to date and saw the Americana icons become global superstars who were selling-out stadiums everywhere that they went.
This show in question, in which the footage of Don Henley and Co. performing ‘Hotel California’, is taken from their stellar performance from Washington D.C.’s Capitol Centre and captures the band at the peak of their powers which makes for an incredible experience of pure exhilaration.
Henley wrote most of the lyrics himself along with some assistance from Don Felder and Glenn Frey: “I feel it important to point out that Glenn contributed some very important lines to that set of lyrics,” he said in 2016. “Those lyrics employ what Glenn used to call ‘the perfect ambiguity,’ and are open to a wide array of interpretations — and we’ve seen some doozies. But the song has somehow resonated all around the globe.”
Speaking with the Daily Mail November in 2007, Henley revealed the true meaning behind the track albeit in a somewhat vague manner: “Some of the wilder interpretations of that song have been amazing. It was really about the excesses of American culture and certain girls we knew. But it was also about the uneasy balance between art and commerce.”
Although it is clear that ‘Hotel California’ is a metaphor for the American dream, with California being the place that has the capabilities to make lemonade from lemons, there are several theories that Henley alluded to that suggest it is literally about a real hotel—some even suggesting that it’s actually about the Playboy Mansion.
The vague nature of the track which is left to the listener’s interpretation allows each and every one of us to have our own ‘Hotel California’ in our mind when we hear the track which it transports you to, which is the very reason why this song resonated so strongly with people all across the globe.
Take in their glorious performance from 1977, below.