Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Hotel California - live!

Time for some more music!

"Hotel California" was one of the greatest songs around in my earlier years.  It comes from 1977 and was written and played by the Eagles, one of the top American bands at the time (some would say of all time). It was taken from an album of the same name, and went on to win all sorts of awards.

What's it about? Who really knows? And yet it make sense - passing pleasures, emptiness, claustrophobia, being trapped. Great lines abound, such as "Some dance to remember  Some dance to forget".  "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave". The band themselves have described it as an "interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles", while Don Henley, the drummer who is the lead singer in the song said that the song was about "a journey from innocence to experience... that's all..." and on another occasion "it's basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream and about excess in America, which was something we knew about." Very appropriate now maybe...  What is it that draws each of us in off our desert highways? Maybe that is our Hotel California. But be careful, in case "you can never leave".

In addition to the lyrics there is great music, with outstanding and, unusually, two lead guitars. Listen to the extended instrumental coda at the end of the song - great stuff. In fact it is all great stuff, mysterious, amazing. Here are the band playing it live in 1977. It mirrors the recorded version exactly, but with the extra bite that comes from a live performance. The lyrics are below.

On a dark desert highway  cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas   rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance   I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim  I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway  I heard the mission bell
And I was thinkin' to myself   'This could be heaven or this could be hell
Then she lit up a candle   and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor   I thought I heard them say
Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place   such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year  
You can find it here
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted    She got the Mercedes bends,
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys    that she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard   Sweet summer sweat
Some dance to remember,  some dance to forget
So I called up the Captain    "Please bring me my wine"
He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969"
And still those voices are calling from far away
Wake you up in the middle of the night  just to hear them say
Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place    Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise    Bring your alibis
Mirrors on the ceiling     The pink champagne on ice
And she said, "We are all just prisoners here of our own device"
And in the master's chambers    they gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives    but they just can't kill the beast
Last thing I remember    I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back    to the place I was before
"Relax", said the night man    "We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like   But you can never leave"

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