1001 Songs Challenge,  1970s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #435: Hotel California (1976)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


Eagles – Hotel California (1976)

Farewell to Australia and hello again to the US. Our travels have brought us back to Los Angeles and here we check in once more with Eagles. We saw them back in 1973 with Desperado. The years have been kind since and the group are now onto their fifth album which would be the third biggest selling record in US history. No.1 would be their greatest hits collection! Anyway, it’s been a long journey so far, dear reader, and I feel the need to stop and rest for the night. The Bates Motel did not appeal on the drive through but just beyond that was the Hotel California

A song that has had decades worth of interpretation analysis and debate, Hotel California was written by Don Felder, Glenn Frey and Don Henley. The track has three verses with the first one having a narrator driving alone at night and seeing the bright city lights of California on the horizon. They are weary so stop for the night at the Hotel California which we are told on good authority is “such a lovely place.” The second verse refers to a wealthy woman, a socialite perhaps and a circle of beautiful friends partying in a courtyard with her, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood maybe. The third verse sounds quite sinister with some interpreting Satanic rituals here and the uneasy admonishment to the narrator that you are a prisoner and can never leave. If you are familiar with the UK comedy The League of Gentleman, then Hotel California sounds like Royston Vasey. The group themselves have said the song is their interpretation of California and the luxuries and life to be found there. In that respect the hotel of the title could be a metaphor to encapsulate all of California rather than a solitary dwelling one stops in for the night. 

Listing the great rock tracks of the 1970s, one is bound to come across Eagles and Hotel California. It is unquestionably their most famous song and one of the few I actually knew prior to starting this challenge. It stands up well to this day with some delightful backing music to Don Henley’s pristine voice. The final two minutes is rounded off with one of the great guitar solos as well. A high point in the career of Eagles.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Doors – The End (1967)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)

Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)

Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us (1974)

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run (1975)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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