Friday, January 8, 2010

The Eagles “Hotel California”

All Time Top Five Songs About Motel Rooms . . .

(I’ll just say up front: today’s entry gets graphic. So if you’re the kind of person that covers your eyes during horror movies and/or sex scenes, best skip today’s post)

I remember the disquiet I felt as a kid, hearing “Hotel California.” At 8 or 9 years old, I certainly could not have gleaned that the song was about the excess of the West Coast Music industry and the trap that the “Everything, all the time” (to quote a different Eagles song) could become.

Even at that tender age, I understood that The Hotel wasn’t a really place, but a spooky, spectral metaphoric location of the soul. The line, “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” was like a line from a horror movie to my young self.

And the line “They stab it with their steely knives” was just more Slasher-movie imagery, for my early understanding of the song.

Much later, as I moved into my Song Nerd phase, I learned that “Stab it with their steely knives” was a playful reference to Steely Dan. The Dan had mentioned the Eagles in one of their songs (“Everything You Did”), so the Eagles returned the favor, by slipping in a sly reference.

My hazy 20s brought me to that part of your life where you discover Carlos Castaneda, Lester Bangs and Lenny Bruce, and William Burroughs. It was a Burroughs fan who filled me in to the fact that Steely Dan took its name from “Naked Lunch.”

In that book, the Steely Dan is a metal dildo. Which, in my 20s, was pretty funny, to think that this mainstream band was named after a self-pleasuring device.

But it wasn’t until many years later that I put all of this information all together, to form one, very disturbing image, that makes it hard for me to listen to “Hotel California” without feeling queasy.

“They stab it with their steely knives.”

If the steely knife is actually a metal dildo, and there is stabbing involved, then . . . well it’s just too graphic to describe any further. Sorry. Hope I didn’t permanently ruin the song for you.

Hear full live versions of "Hotel California" and "Everything You Did", here

From time to time on Every Day I Write The Blog, I do a week’s worth of my five favorite songs on theme. For the All Time Top Five rules, see this previous post.

No comments:

Post a Comment