Welcome To The Eagles “Hotel California”! Joe Walsh Checks In! Brilliant Henley/Frey Music! Steely Dan Shout Out!

I drive by this site almost every single day:

the-beverly-hills-hotel

Does it remind you of something? Well it should, since it’s the “hotel” that the Eagles made famous:

hotel-california-the-eagles-album

Welcome To The Hotel California!

It’s the Beverly Hills Hotel, located on Sunset Boulevard. It will always be known as the hotel that adorns the cover of one of the greatest albums of all time!

hotel-california-album-art-the-eages

It begins with some of music’s most well-known lyrics:

“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…”

And it ends with these words:

“And you can see them there,
On Sunday morning
They stand up and sing about
what it’s like up there
They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye…”

In between those opening and closing lyrics is the fifth Eagles album – one of rock’s greatest achievements…welcome to the Hotel California!

hotel-california

Hello Joe!

There was a lot going on with the band at the time of the album’s release. It was their first album with guitarist Joe Walsh, who had replaced founding member Bernie Leadon.

Before dissecting the entire album, let’s get right to their masterpiece of a title track – here is a live performance from 1977:

the-eagles-hotel-california

Eagles singer/drummer Don Henley decided on the theme of “Hotel California”, saying that The Beverly Hills Hotel had become a literal and symbolic focal point of their lives at that time.

Here is how Henley describes the band’s personal and professional life:

“We were getting an extensive education, in life, in love, in business. Beverly Hills was still a mythical place to us. In that sense it became something of a symbol, and the ‘Hotel’ the focus of all that LA had come to mean for us. In a sentence, I’d sum it up as the end of the innocence, round one.”

glenn-frey-don-henley

Glenn Frey’s Cinematic Approach To the Music!

According to Wikipedia, Frey came up with a cinematic scenario of a person who, tired from driving a long distance in a desert, saw a place for a rest and pulled in for the night, but entered “a weird world peopled by freaky characters”, and then was:

“quickly spooked by the claustrophobic feeling of being caught in a disturbing web from which he may never escape.”

RIP Glenn Frey Eagles

In an interview with Cameron Crowe, Frey said that he and Henley wanted the song “to open like an episode of the Twilight Zone”, and added:


“We take this guy and make him like a character in The Magus, where every time he walks through a door there’s a new version of reality. We wanted to write a song just like it was a movie.”

new Don Henley music

In the 2013 documentary, “The History of the Eagles”, Henley reiterated his thoughts about the concept of the album:


“On just about every album we made, there was some kind of commentary on the music business, and on American culture in general. The hotel itself could be taken as a metaphor not only for the myth-making of Southern California, but for the myth-making that is the American Dream, because it is a fine line between the American Dream, and the American nightmare.”

The-Eagles Glenn Frey

As you can see, there has been a TON of reflection on what this album was meant to be, but it was, above all else, a great musical achievement for the band!

What they created was a masterpiece that continues to resonate. Here’s a look at the album:

hotel-california

“Hotel California”


“Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here…”

don-henley-glenn-frey

Wow, thanks to Getty Images for this terrific shot of the two…

Henley and Frey wrote the lyrics to the opening song, using a riff from Don Felder as inspiration. You hear Felder’s guitar opening, one of the most iconic in all of music, before the lyrics kick in:


“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…”

The lyrics of the song have been given various interpretations, but the band themselves described the song as their “interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles”. In the 2013 documentary, Henley said that the song was about “a journey from innocence to experience… that’s all…”

Donald Fagen Walter Becker

Glenn Frey Namechecks Steely Dan!

According to Glenn Frey’s liner notes for “The Very Best Of The Eagles”, there was a reason he used the word “steely” in the lyrics:

“They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast

It’s was Frey’s playful nod to the band Steely Dan, who had included the lyric “Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening” in their song “Everything You Did”!

Touche!

Sad news that Walter Becker from the band died…here is a look at their music:

https://johnrieber.com/2015/03/16/icy-cool-steely-dan-classic-70s-music-lawsuits-over-dirty-work/

eagles-usa-new-kid-in-town-asylum

“New Kid in Town”

After the powerful opening song, Henley and Frey wrote this one with longtime collaborate J.D. Souther, and it was the first single from the album.

Here is a live performance from 1977 – Glenn Frey’s voice is silky smooth:

life-in-the-fast-lane-the-egles

“Life in the Fast Lane”

Joe Walsh announced his arrival in the band by co-writing this iconic rocker with Henley and Frey.

“He had a nasty reputation as a cruel dude
They said he was ruthless said he was crude
They had one thing in common: they were good in bed
She’d say, “Faster, faster. “The lights are turning red.”
Life in the fast lane Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane”

Here’s a great solo performance by Walsh:

“Wasted Time”

Side one ends with a beautiful ballad by Henley and Frey

“You never thought you’d be alone this far down the line
And I know what’s been on your mind
You’re afraid it’s all been wasted time”

The duo write intelligent and insightful lyrics, and of course a haunting melody as well…

hotel-caliornia-the-eagles

Side two begins with a beautiful instrumental reprise of “Waste Time” first, then it goes right into a raucous, blistering “Victim of Love”, another song that tears into the morality of Los Angeles…

“Victim of love, you’re just a victim of love
I could be wrong , but I’m not
Victim of love, now you’re a victim of love
What kind of love have you got?
What kind of love have you got?
What kind of love have you got?”

Here is an audio-only live version from the Millennium Concert:

“Pretty Maids All in a Row”

Joe Walsh and co-writer Joe Vitale offer up an absolutely gorgeous ballad next…here is a beautiful live version – note that the first :20 is black with audio, then the video kicks in for a great closeup performance:

hotel-california-eagles-1977

“Try and Love Again”

Another terrific ballad is next, Randy Meisner’s gorgeous love song…

“Should I stay or go?
I really want to know
Would I lose or win
If I try and love again?
Gonna try and love again
I’m gonna try and love again”

Meisner would leave the band after recording this album, and this is the only song he wrote solo for the album…

Here is an audio-only version – with some of Meisner’s most beautiful vocals…

“The Last Resort”

The album ends with a look at a fading resort – and a culture at risk:

“They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye…”

A beautiful, majestic orchestral end, with a simple light touch to close out one of rock’s greatest works…

grammy-awards-hotel-california

The Grammys Check In As Well!

The Eagles won the 1977 Grammy Award for Record of the Year for “Hotel California”, and one for “New Kid in Town” as well. The album was nominated for Album of the Year but lost to Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors!”

the_eagles_in_concert_-_2010_australia

“Hotel California” was a mega hit for the band, and remains one of the best-selling albums of all time.

The album was ranked number 37 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.

As I said, Joe Walsh joined the band at the very end of “One Of These Nights”, after Bernie Leadon quit amid some controversy after that #1 album:

The Eagles One Of These Nights

See all the music videos and more trivia about “One Of These Nights” here:

https://johnrieber.com/2016/04/16/one-of-these-nights-the-eagles-meltdown-at-1-bernie-leadon-quits-joe-walsh-electrifies-the-band/

I was lucky enough to see the terrific “History Of The Eagles” concert in 2013:

Eagles concert setting

History Of The Eagles BErnie Leadon Don Henley

I loved seeing Bernie Leadon rejoin the group to perform many of the early songs. Here is a look at that show, with some videos I took at the show:

https://johnrieber.com/2013/09/21/history-of-the-eagles-amazing-concert-old-friends-return/

Let me know your favorite “Hotel California” songs!

hotel-california



Categories: Art, Awards, Books / Media, Classic Rock, documentary films, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Memoirs, Music, Talent/Celebrities, TV Show, Uncategorized

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19 replies

  1. “Hotel California” is my favorite, followed by “Life In The Fast Lane”. Both songs feature some of Joe’s best guitar work. And “Hotel California” has one of the best lines ever from an Eagles song: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

  2. They’re all great songs on that album, but the Last Resort is the best. Still relevant today, especially in the Northwest.

  3. I was lucky to see them in 2006. they opened with seven bridges road. man those guys have the best vocal harmonies together. I had goosebumps. Eric

  4. You sure love the Eagles! That’s awesome you get to drive by the hotel every day. I’ve been thinking of driving North and stopping at a corner in Winslow. I gotta have a picture of the statue….

  5. Great talent indeed, John. It doesn’t get much better than The Eagles. Except maybe Steely Dan!
    Best wishes, Pete.

Trackbacks

  1. The Eagles Beautiful Christmas Single! “Please Come Home For Christmas!” “Funky New Year” Too! – johnrieber
  2. The Eagles End Their “Long Run!” Their Last 70’s Music! Hit Singles! Band Fights! The End Of An Era… – johnrieber
  3. Eagles “Hotel California” Anniversary! “Lyin’ Eyes!” “Sunset Grill!” My LA-Based Eagles Landmarks – johnrieber
  4. The Music Of “V” Is For Village People! Velvet Underground! Van Halen! The Eagles “Victim Of Love!” – johnrieber

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