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Hotel California

The Eagles

Album Eagles album

Story of Song

It’s about the jaded and hedonistic lifestyle that characterizes southern California. Don Henley said “It’s a song about a journey from innocence to experience.” When The Eagles were interviewed they said “it is about the jaded, blasé, hedonistic lifestyle that characterizes California” And indeed when you listen to the song there are lyrics that sounds like the epitome of that type of lifestyle (mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice, Mercedes-benz). Hotel California has inspired endless debates on what the lyrics really mean as they’re very enigmatic and cryptic.

However there are other interpretations for the lyrics that are more penetrative and titillating and even darker. One of the most interesting ones is that whole song is a metaphor for a drug trip and The Hotel California (THC) spells out the principal components in grass which needless to say was extremely popular in southern California at that time. So if you listen at the beginning of the song “on a dark desert highway cool wind in my hair warm smell of colitas rising up through the air” Colitas in America could be a codeword for grass. Then a woman appears out of nowhere “There she stood in the hallway I heard the mission bell I was thinking to myself this could be heaven or this could be hell” So this could be a whole initiation into drugs.

The third and more somber interpretation is that the Eagles at the height of their success have been lured in the church of Satan under the auspices of the great satanic priest Anton LaVey and that they did not dare to speak about Satan publicly but wrote this song and masked the lyrics inside the song. When you open the original album you will see the inside of the hotel lobby and in the back window you will see a man dressed in black robes and a shaved head. If you zoom in on it that figure it’s Anton LaVey. The church of Satan was established in 1969 in California and basically its tenets were hedonism, living to the hilt, disregard of traditional morality and indulging fully in the senses and particularly the sensual senses. Also in the song “I was thinking to myself this could be heaven or this could be hell” an indication of something sinister. At the end of the song “You can check-out anytime you like but you can never leave” as it is known that if you sell your soul to Satan it belongs to him forever even if you try to redeem yourself afterwards. But the lyrics that are indisputable in the eyes of something related to Satanism are “So I called up the captain please bring me my wine he said we haven’t had that spirit in here since 1969”–the spirit of Jesus has left this church since the church of Satan had been established.
Don Felder had rented a beach house on Malibu beach; he was sitting on the couch and just started playing guitar and out came that chord progression. Then he ran back to the bedroom where he had set up a reel to reel recording studio and recorded the progressions 5 or 6 times so he wouldn’t forget it. His 1 year old daughter was sleeping in that same room. Later Don was compiling song ideas and felt he needed to finish this particular song. Don Felder then sent the song to Don Henley and Glenn Frey where they added the lyrics. Glenn Frey said “Don Felder used to send Henley and I instrumental tapes, so Don and I were listening to one of his cassettes when this song “Hotel California” came up when we both said this is kind of interesting”. Frey added” The first working title, the name we gave it, was Mexican Reggae”. Joe Walsh added tunes to the last part of the song.

Release date

It  was released as a single in February 22, 1977


Don Henley and Glenn Frey



Chart Rankings

US – 1

UK – 1


It is one of the most successful songs ever. “Hotel California” was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), after shipping one million copies in just three months.

In 2009, the RIAA certified ‘Hotel California’ Platinum, for sales of one million digital downloads.  In 1998, The guitar solo was voted the best solo of all time by readers of Guitarist magazine and was ranked 8th on Guitar Magazine‍ ’s Top 100 Guitar Solos and one of (The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)‘s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Even recently it was voted the number 112 string guitar song by Guitar World magazine.

Hotel California” was at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for one week in May, 1977.

Artist’s age on release date

The band was active for 6 years.

Cover Versions

Many cover versions and parodies of Hotel California have been released.  Performances of the song appear on the Eagles’ 1980 live album, 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.

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Hotel California by The Eagles

    Michael H Shepard

    December 15, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    I Michael Holland Shepard songwrote Hotel California in 1968. It was plagiarized by the Eagles.


      March 1, 2020 at 5:06 pm



      April 24, 2020 at 10:19 pm

      Yea sure you did.


      July 17, 2020 at 4:58 am

      Michael H Shepard – did you really write this song? If so, what do the lyrics really mean?

      Cathy Terrell

      December 3, 2020 at 3:53 pm

      Lmao Sure😉

    james Carrillo

    October 8, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Song “music” was pilfered from Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull listen to the guitar work on the song “We used to know” .


    January 14, 2020 at 1:05 am

    Sure you did. And I wrote the national anthem.

    Sarah Grimes

    May 19, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    I have always loved this song, have it taped and listen at least once a day, makes me smile. Sure hope it isn’t connected to the devil, weed would be o.k.grimas


    July 23, 2020 at 12:24 am

    No Music No Life… I Love this song too much, I’m so many many times listening in shuttle zone… I feel Like that this song is my Life journey, whenever I Will There started and I Feel in this song has been I’m there, I’m in California dreams….It’s my dreams. California is My love, my favourite city,…. always in my 💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓

    Dremma Haywood

    August 25, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    It’s an awesome song so captivating. The eagles are great.


    November 11, 2020 at 11:38 pm

    nobody owns this song it’s called running the sevens it’s been used by George Harrison arrowsmith and countless other bands it’s a progression but he wrote the words more power to it but he didn’t write The music my Man running the sevens have been around for years

    Sheryl Peet

    January 15, 2021 at 2:23 am

    I always hear it played by restaurant musicians when in Mexico. Kind of a standard like, “La Bomba”, “Imagine” and “Ring of Fire”. I like all the mystery around the title and lyrics too.
    Across from the Hotel is a restaurant called Tequila Sunrise. Brilliant.


    January 18, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Say what you will about the song hotel California. The Eagles are still one of the greatest bands In the history of music. And no one can dispute that

    Imad Mourtada

    January 22, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    My interpretation about the song .
    Starts early at the time the song was launched
    Where I did not discuss it with any body
    Because I thought that the metaphor was obvious
    But I have never heard or read an interpretation similar to mine
    Which is:
    “ every one of us is born unwillingly and deep inside we would rather prefer not to be and the journey of birth was tough and weird wishing not to be at all
    And we can reflect each idea among the words of the lyric on the main theme above”


    January 29, 2021 at 6:15 am

    This will be played at my celebration of my life love this

    Josh souvannakasy

    February 22, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    It’s about a ghost haunting the hotel


    March 30, 2021 at 5:22 am

    To me, there is no doubt that this song is is about Marijuana. Back in the seventies, when this song came out, marijuana was highly villified as a gateway drug to other even harder drugs.
    I, myself, in the early 80s, have only taken one puff of pot and realized it wasn’t for me and other than alcohol have never in my 60 some years tried any other drugs. I however think marijuana has gotten a bad rap from the US government by declaring it a schedule 1 (no medicinal use) drug.


    May 20, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    Wow…satanic worship? Really?

    “Colitas” meaning marijuana?

    You’re really stretching for a meaning here.

      El Robobob

      June 23, 2021 at 7:24 pm

      Dan, “colitas” absolutely is Mexican Spanish slang for cannabis. Don’t just take my word for it though (which of course you won’t), but google it for yourself.

      For the record a “cola” is the large bud (flower) atop a flowering cannabis plant. Colitas refers to smaller flowers/”buds” at the tip of flowering branches.


    April 18, 2023 at 11:08 am

    Some parts of the lyrics allude to excesses and hedonism.Yet there is also reference to devil worshiping ??stabbing the beast(an animal ?) with their knives.

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