Hotel California – An Eagles’ Classic
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Photo of EAGLES; L-R: Randy Meisner, Glenn Frey, Don Felder, Joe Walsh performing live onstage on Hotel California tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)
The popular rock group, the Eagles, is arguably one of the most influential bands of their time. Being the guy that was always front and center, Glenn Frey was the voice of the band. Frey had an inspiring and soulful voice and was a master of his art. The entire group really meshed and complemented each other. Listening to them harmonize was just a mesmerizing experience.
In the late 1970s, the Eagles had cranked out yet another hit when they released the iconic song, Hotel California. The band, obviously, already had our attention, so it should come as no surprise that the song was an instant success and made its way to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 19 weeks, straight; selling over 16 million copies in the United States alone. In addition to that, the song won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1978, and rightfully so.
Although Glenn Frey was the driving force behind the lyrics to Hotel California, he didn’t do it alone. Don Henley and Don Felder were also part of the songwriting process. The three wanted to compose a song that exposed the ugliness of the “excesses” in America. While in pursuit of the “American Dream”, America, somewhere along the line, became over indulgent and wasteful. The concept of prosperity and happiness had turned into greed and the original dream became muddied.
Apparently, the Eagles saw themselves falling into that same category of being over self-indulgent. In an effort to reel themselves back in and to call attention to the issue, they decided to put words to music. Each of the group members had come from middle-class families in Midwest America. California was like a dream come true to them; as if they had finally “made it”. It was a very personal and deep process.
Maybe not so deep, though, was the “playful nod” to the Steely Dan band with the lyrics, “They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast.”. Greed and ugliness was the beast. That after, Steely Dan made a reference to the Eagles in one of their songs.
The Eagles definitely influenced rock and roll as well as the lives and memories of many. Hotel California was just one of the countless Eagles songs I remember growing up and I’m sure I still know all the words to most of them. The famous group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, which is exactly where they belong.
It is strange to imagine now, but the epic song, Hotel California, was almost released under another name. Journalist, Cameron Crowe, reported in “Conversations with Don Henley and Glenn Frey”, that the original title considered was actually, “Mexican Reggae”. I for one, am glad that title didn’t make the cut.
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