The Eagles’ signature song “Hotel California” is one of the worst releases of the modern era. Their fans will rabidly scoff and quote statistics in refutation: “How can it be the worst release? It’s certified platinum! It sold millions of copies and downloads! It’s ranked 49th onRolling Stones’ Top 500 Songs of All Time list! What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Hotel California,” released 37 years ago on the album of the same name, has beendestroying music by stymieing its growth and taking up precious resources that could be used to bring new, fresh music to the public. The song, like the hotel it references, is pure evil wrapped in a hypnotic, charming melody. Also lost to most is the irony of how a song about materialism and excess has come to symbolize such vices.
Advertising for those flying in to Los Angeles lest they forget they live in Hotel California.
I have not always hated this song; on the contrary, it enraptured me from the first moment I heard the opening chords that strung perfectly together like a magnificent pearl necklace opening before us on my brother Quinten’s Casio tape deck. At the time I had never heard anything like it. It was haunting. It was rocking. It was so freaking creepy. For years, I cranked up the radio when Hotel California floated from the speakers. At the time, I thought nobody could stop listening to it.
Apparently that was true for some, but not for me. Remember Hotel California was a brand-new album then, we didn’t have much musical choice in suburban Connecticut, and I was in junior high school at the time. Since then my musical tastes have evolved, leading me to now believe the Eagles are one of the worst bands of all time (right behind the Dave Matthews Band, another group whose appeal I fail to grasp).
The Eagles in 1977 vs. the Eagles 2014. Despite what Boomers want to believe, Hotel California doesn’t stop time or aging.
I realized sometime in the ’90s after listening to “Hotel California” repeatedly over the years how much that song and songs like it were taking up valuable time on local radio stations, limited space on music store shelves, precious dates at prime music venues…it had a death grip and refused to let go. Like the hotel, you could never leave it. It was always there. Almost Pavlovian, people turned up their radios when it came on, bought additional copies when record shopping, and purchased increasingly expensive concert tickets to hear the same damned song for the nth time.
Meanwhile, new artists have been creating incredible music that has competed for the same limited resources as that dinosaur band, which has selfishly devoured it all for themselves along the way and left little for the new lifeforms. Of course it traveled in packs that included fellow dinosaurs like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Billy Joel, Phil Collins, and Michael Jackson, creating such a phalanx around the feeding grounds that others never had a chance to survive. A few others have been allowed in the circle, such as R.E.M, U2 and Nirvana, but such inclusions are rare.
Despite their desperate hold, rock music is dead. It is way past its prime. There is nothing left to say, nothing left to do. Groups such as the Eagles have become little more than tribute bands to themselves (as evidenced by the Eagles’ set list of its most recent tour). Regardless of playing all ancient hits from 35-40 years ago, the average ticket price for an Eagles show is almost $130, which is the second-highest ticket price behind the Rolling Stones, also a band that tours solely to pay tribute to itself.
So save yourself. Stop listening to Hotel California. If you have to listen to songs with Eagles, Hotel and/or California, I recommend these as a good place to start: