Here is how Don Henley tries to explain the song “Hotel California”: “My simple explanation is that it’s a song about the journey from innocence to experience. That is all.” Really Don? Could you be any more vague? A lot of songs can be desribed that way; “Maggie May,” “Lola,” “Dude Looks Like A Lady,” and that’s off the top of my head.
On Henley’s solo album there is a song called “Driving With Your Eyes Closed” and the first line of the second verse is; “Some guys were born to Rimbaud, some guys breathe Baudelaire.” Baudelaire’s most famous quote is; “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” Yes, Baudelaire is Keyser Soze. You would know this if you had stayed through the credits.
Anyway, if you are a paranoid schizophrenic such as myself you will see the connection here: The greatest trick the Eagles ever pulled was convincing the world that “Hotel California” is actually about something.
Yes, I am saying it’s about nothing. Zip, zilch, nada, nil, nothing. Maybe less than nothing. What makes me say this? I’m glad you asked.
From viewing The History of The Eagles we know that certain members of the group were not adverse to the idea of using narcotics, so imagine this conversation between Glenn Frey and Don Henley:
Frey: “Hey Don, what is the Led Zeppelin song ‘Stairway to Heaven’ about?”
Henley: “Well Glenn, it’s about…”
*Frey interrupts* “Exactly! No one knows. People love that song. We should write a song like that with a bunch of mystical, obscure lyrics and when people ask us about it we’ll just be obtuse and dazzle them with some mumbo jumbo and they’ll just eat it up and we’ll ride the money train all the way to the bank.”
Henley: “What should we call it?”
*Frey looks around and notices that they are in a hotel in California* “Hotel California!”
It’s not that far fetched if you think about it. Glenn Frey is the king of song titles. In the documentary he tells the stories behind “Tequila Sunrise,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” and “Life In The Fast Lane.” Who knows how many more stories are left on the cutting room floor?
Frey makes it seem so easy. Apparently all you need to do to come up with a great song title is hang out in bars with gold diggers or ride shotgun in a drug dealer’s Corvette at high speed on the way to a poker game. So now you know.