Name: “Hotel California”
Release date: February 1977
Favorite track: “Wasted Time”
Fame and riches are not exactly unexplored territory in music history, but the Eagles set a high standard for these themes with its fifth album, “Hotel California.”
This album earned the Eagles two Grammy Awards for singles “Hotel California” and “New Kid in Town.” It’s one of the group’s best-selling albums, and likely the first that comes to mind when someone mentions the Eagles.
It takes only a few seconds of music to recognize the Eagles’ hit song “Hotel California.”
While there are many interpretations attached to the song's lyrics, it’s safe to say the Eagles captured something. For me, the group captured the desolation experienced when humans receive what they seek.
‘Relax’ said the night man,
‘We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!’
— “Hotel California”
“New Kid in Town” was nearly as popular as the title track. I love the soft, folk-rock nature of the song, expressed in the slow pace, soothing harmonies and simplistic lyrics. I admire these same qualities in “Try and Love Again.”
The lyrics will never lose relevance. There is always someone out there who is better than you and ready to replace you at a moment’s notice.
People you meet, they all seem to know you.
Even your old friends treat you like you’re something new.
Johnny come lately, the new kid in town.
Everybody loves you, so don’t let them down.
— “New Kid in Town”
The band transitions to classic rock with a song cooler than leather apparel, “Life in the Fast Lane.” Although the phrase was likely used countless time before, the Eagles are one of the first musical groups to use it in lyrics. I have to wonder if this launched the wave of driving metaphors used in songs today.
In another transition, the Eagles follow up the edgy “Life in the Fast Lane” with the regretful ballad “Wasted Time.” Don Henley’s vocals are angelic in this melancholy song, making it my personal favorite on the record. It shocks me that it wasn’t released as a single. But, hey, singles are overrated.
“Victim of Love” feels like the sequel to “Life in the Fast Lane,” — both tales of romance buckling under the consequences of societal actions.
In my interpretation, “Wasted Time” and “Pretty Maids All in a Row” run parallel. Some songs seem like merely observations, but these two feel personal. “Pretty Maids All in a Row” and “The Last Resort” feature stunning music and songwriting.
I don’t often notice it, but I appreciate the strategic placement of songs in the track listing.
Because of this record’s popularity, the album cover — with its palm trees and neon blue cursive writing — is iconic. The imagery perfectly evokes the message of the lyrics and vibes expressed in the music of “Hotel California.”
Hey, I'm Savannah. I collect records, and they collect dust. Like my preferred media form, I strive to not become obsolete. I created Off the Record as a way to turn my mind inside out, into something visual and tangible. One is the loneliest number, so I asked my friends to join.