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100 Albums: "Hotel California" by The Eagles

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The Eagles
Title: Hotel California
Released: 1976
Genre: Southern rock




Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift is a scathing allegorical political satire of 18th Century Europe, but it remains a beloved story that has been adapted multiple times to the screen because even though most people don't pick up on the underlying meaning, it tells a compelling adventure story. This is basically what's going on with Hotel California. Written at a time when the band was trying to move away from their country rock origins. They lost founding member Bernie Leadon and replaced him with slide guitar virtuoso Joe Walsh. Lyrically, the album is a collection of singer Don Henley's musings about materialism, consumerism, and drugs. But he spins a great yarn with it.

The title track, famous for its extended guitar coda and its apparent depiction of what appears to be a literal hotel that you can literally never leave. Per Henley, the song is really about loss of innocence. But it doesn't matter. It's a solid rock song, as are the other thoughtful musings on the record: from the twangy Victim Of Love to the flashy Life In The Fast Lane. But for the most part it's a fairly soft rock album, fleshed out with lighter fare like Wasted Time and its instrumental reprise, or the gentle New Kid In Town or the anthemic closer, The Last Resort in which Henley laments how everything people touch gets corrupted. It's a gentle groove that tells some interesting stories.

There's a reason it's one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Further Listening: The only other Eagles albums I have are their two greatest hits collections. Both of those are pretty good.

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