Song History: Hotel California (1976) – Eagles
The album "Hotel California" is the fifth in the career of the Americans who made up the group "Eagles". It was released by Asylum Records in late 1976. It is interesting that at the same time this is the first application of the team without the participation of Bernie Leadon, the founder of the band, as well as bassist and soloist Randy Meisner, who left its composition. But with the participation of Joe Walsh. "Hotel California" is the album that made the Eagles famous all over the world - it broke all the popularity ratings of world hits (it is estimated that more than 16 million copies were bought in the States alone).
An excursion into the history of the Eagles
Bernie Leadon was disappointed with the direction the band was taking in the late 70s. Since the inception of the group, he was drawn to his close and native country rock and bluegrass, but already from the 3rd album “On the Border” (1974) the team confidently went to the mainstream in rock music. Neither financial success nor concert performances in crowded stadiums brought joy.
"I only need the sun, the sea, a little wine and my old lady."
As if confirming this state of his, Lidon left the group at the end of 1975. There are those who claim that before finally saying goodbye, he poured beer on the top of Glenn Fry, although why is unknown.
There were no windows in the group's schedule for the year ahead: it was a dynamic busy schedule, so it was necessary to quickly look for the first guitarist, literally in a week. What was quite successful: the group included an old acquaintance of the guys and a wonderful musician Joe Walsh. And negotiations about his entry into the group were going on long before the release of Lidon.
Fry later admitted that the team avoided the spread of conflicting rumors. It was originally planned that Bernie would replace Joe during performances on the Australian continent and in New Zealand. However, the information somehow leaked out, and they began to say that Joe was planning to leave, and the group was on the verge of a split. About a month and a half before Bernie left the group, it became obvious that his departure was just a matter of time. Conversations within the team have been going on since 1975. Then no one was looking for his place yet: it was hard to think that someone could fit in as perfectly as Joe. And the four musicians were no longer satisfied, the composition of the five members of the group was more convenient and familiar.
When Joe Walsh came along, the face of the Eagles completely changed. The direction of country rock with a rocker guitar style was replaced by rock and roll. Despite the fact that Walsh interpreted rock very broadly, without abandoning the softness and melodiousness that distinguished the Eagles. It was a new stream - and an important round of development for both parties: the group expanded the material they brought in, while Walsh himself introduced rigidity and purposefulness into the sound of the compositions - hitherto not characteristic of them.
It's hard to believe, but it was Walsh who embodied the image that the musicians had been looking for for a long time. Releasing album after album, they wanted to consolidate the image of self-confident macho, trampling the world, but with big hearts, denying everything but the main thing. However, it was not so easy to get rid of the Hollywood raid, so the Eagles looked like cowboys from the picture, without multidimensionality and depth.
The band's first gigs with Joe Walsh were something of a schizophrenic. They played a few old songs, and then the audience was introduced to Joe Walsh, who then shone in a dynamic number "James Gang" or "Barnstorm" - in these groups he used to be. Then everything was replaced by slightly softened Eagles compositions. There were many Eagles fans in the audience who did not understand where and how Walsh came from. However, there were, albeit few, but noisy Walsh fans who declared themselves impatiently for the end of the Eagles material, so that their favorite would come into its own on stage.
When Lidon left, the company that published the group's albums, Asylum Records, was afraid of force majeure: after all, its founder left the group. Therefore, it was decided to sum up the work for all the years. The result was the Eagles' first compilation, the company's very uncomplicated title: "Their Greatest Hits", 1971-1975. And he became famous much more than other albums. It was a resounding success, no one else beat the sales rating in the entire history of the States. Only in America it was sold out with a circulation of more than 29 million copies, plus more than 42 million were sold in other countries.
Album "Hotel California" (Hotel California)
Such a resounding success loomed against the backdrop of the band's consciousness as it recorded a new one: the musicians had to surpass themselves in order to compete with sales of "Their Greatest Hits". This is partly why the recording of the Hotel California album dragged on for a long time, at intervals, from the spring to the fall of 1976. In the summer, the group was supposed to go on a concert tour of the States so that the public would not forget the Eagles, and talk about Leadon's departure did not stop and caused a wave of interest among representatives of the music community, adversely affecting the team's reputation. With the biggest squeak was the final part of the album, which was recorded right on the trip.
As Don Henley later recalled: “We had to complete the recording from the start of the tour. We performed at three concerts in different cities, got on a plane to Miami, and there we wrote until six in the morning. Then they flew to another place - to perform. Thus ended the work. We weren't even in the studio when the last two songs were mixed. Shimchik brought them together without us and let them listen somewhere along the way.
The new vibe that began to be felt after the appearance of Joe Walsh was felt from the opening sounds of the first song "Hotel California". The rhythm, characteristic of his solo numbers and participation in Barnstorm, made itself felt. The well-known cross-guitar solo on two instruments - Joe Walsh and Don Felder - was a discovery and a real breakthrough for the group. Don Henley spoke about the composition and the album:
“It was the year of the 200th anniversary of the United States, and at the same time - our answer. We are also talking about the irrevocably gone 60s, about the decadence and escapism that we experienced in the 70s. Until the mid-70s, we seemed to be running from reality. It was a crisis while we were looking for some source of inspiration, like the Beatles or something like that.
The composition "Hotel California" clearly recreated the risks of glossy show business. The main character stops during a long journey in a hotel, whose conspicuous pomposity becomes a terrible dead end: there is no way out of it. It begs the association with a rock band, going from beggarly idealism and hard work to abundance and success, with complete lack of will in front of the almighty financial mechanism.
From the first days of its inception, the song "Hotel California" has become an integral part of the Eagles' repertoire. This hit broke the record on the Billboard list for a whole week of May back in 1977. Three months after the song's release, the RIAA recorded a million sales of the song. In 1977, the group was awarded a Grammy for the song "Hotel California", recognized as "Record of the Year". The musicians were absent from the presentation ceremony: Don Henley did not particularly recognize this kind of event.
This composition was noted in a number of polls and rating lists. So, Rolling Stone magazine took her 49th position among the 500 best songs of all musical history. She was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame among 500 compositions that influenced the development of this musical direction. Guitar Magazine ranked the song's solo as the 8th best guitar solo, and was also voted best in a reader's poll by Guitarist magazine.
Each member of the group acknowledged that the arrival of Joe Walsh breathed new life into the development of the group. The vocal and instrumental potential of each has increased by an order of magnitude, compared to their past musical experience. The album "Hotel California" impressed even those who clearly did not consider themselves to be fans of the team. Eagles suddenly began to receive recognition from music critics, and the group was attested as one of the best American rock bands.
The hotel featured on the cover is the Beverly Hills Hotel, known as the Pink Palace. Here one could often see the brightest Hollywood stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and others. This hotel is a legend. Photographed by David Alexander. Moreover, the shooting was very difficult: they took pictures in the midst of the life of the hotel. The photographer suffered for long hours, sitting on a car lift at the level of the 18th floor above the Boulevard of the Setting Sun, trying again and again to take a photo in the rays of the setting sun seeping through the wide palm branches.
Glenn Fry explained the story behind the cover as follows: “Hotel California is both elegance and decay. The once luxurious has become unkempt. It’s like walking into a hall that looks luxurious, but after you look closely, you will see rather unpretentious walls and cheap chandeliers adjacent to luxury.”
The theme of satiety and loss of interest from abundance reappears in the composition "Life in the Fast Lane". The image of the fast lane in the song is the leftmost lane on the highway, in America it is often paid, and often only rich people drive in it. It seems that from a distance they look lucky, especially if you look at them through the prism of the average. Such a metaphor reflects the meaning of the phrase "Life in the high-speed lane": it is the abundant and colorful life of the rich. Synonymous with the statement "jet set" - originating from "jet aircraft" (jet aircraft) - "jet audience" - a limited circle of rich people who allow themselves to travel often, drink morning coffee in Paris, dine in London and so on. "Life in the Fast Lane" subverts the idea of "Live fast, die young" when the main advantage is the ability to stay energetic all the time, like Energizer batteries. And it makes very little sense. But this ghostly idea requires eternal running, expenditure of strength and energy, and then wild fatigue sets in, or pain, or bitterness from unfulfilled hopes, and all this poisons existence.
The composition was entrusted to finish by Joe Walsh. One day, while smoking after a run, the musicians noticed a riff played by Walsh just like that. He was asked to continue. And then there was the song. It is about a successful rich couple who loved "life in the fast lane", chasing this attractive idea. Gradually, the couple became addicted to drugs (“lines on the mirror, lines on her face” - cocaine trace left from the sniffed out substance, wrinkles from rapid aging) and stupidly died right on the road.
Speaking to a BBC journalist in 1981, Glenn Fry said:
“The song captures the myth of LA life with the obligatory Porsche-type paraphernalia and non-stop fun. All this, unfortunately, replaces reality for many. This song has no prototypes - it warns of those poles to which you can bring yourself."
In response to the remark that members of the group could have the same manifestations, Fry retorted:
“Yes, maybe so, but it’s good that we realized in time: parties and high-speed cars are not a method and not an end in themselves. It's too small to comprehend the meaning, and we understood it all together.
At the beginning of the song, "glossy life" is adopted. A couple that loves good sex so much is quite happy and successful at first. But then the decline begins.
Fry admitted: “I actually like this kind of life. It inspires, but there are also pitfalls. If you get into it, there is a risk of burning out before you leave something behind the world.”
A sense of balance between the temptation of gloss and the dead end of nonsense is the key idea of the entire album, and the same storyline will be repeated in the compositions "Wasted Time" and "The Last Resort". Speaking about the last song, Fry noted:
“If a person is not dealt with, he can also destroy Heaven, since he destroyed everything given from above on earth.”
At the end of the monologue, Fry added:
“The idea of the Last Resort, among other things, is rooted in the fact that we have discovered all the lands a long time ago - there is no more unknown. We just have nowhere to run, we need to live and thrive here. We must take care of this point on the globe. "Hotel California" in my understanding is our work in the garbage dump of America. California is the epicenter of every problem imaginable, which is why the whole world is like California."
Of course, the album took the 1st position in the States. The songs "Hotel California" and "New Kid in Town" were awarded Grammy Awards. The album itself was also in the category "Album of the Year" in 1977, but it was surpassed by the album "Fleetwood Mac - Rumours", which had absolutely incredible fame. Rolling Stone ranked "Hotel California" at number 37 of the top 500 albums in all of music history. And the song, whose name also served as the title of the album, was ranked 49th by the magazine in the TOP 500 of the best in all of music history.
In the initial version of the publication, the kit included a poster stretched in length (approximately 83 by 28 cm) with a photo of all five members of the Eagles. On the output ditches of the record there is a seal: on the first side - "Is It 6 OClock Yet?", on the second: "VOL Is Five-Piece Live" - that is, the composition "Victim of Love" includes five fragments recorded live, without any overdubs .
In the history of music, this publication has occupied its worthy niche!