Lang. Lit Further Oral Activity (Splashy’s)
Hotel California by Eagles
Written by Don Felder, Glenn Frey, and Don Henley in 1976, the Eagles’ classic “Hotel California” is
considered one of the greatest songs of all time. The surreal and sophisticated lyrics have inspired
various creative interpretations and peculiar theories; many suggest and relate this song to
satanism, hedonism, urban legends, and drug addiction. In retrospect, Don Henley personally
confirmed that the theme of the song is about “the dark underbelly of the American dream and
about excess in America”, California in particular.
Throughout the song lyrics, numerous literary devices such as imagery, diction, metaphors and
many more are employed to tactfully construct the entire setting of the song and subtly guide the
audience into the backstage of the 70’s music industry, and undeniably ultimately to bring about
their realization that “Hotel California” is an excellent allegory and criticism about greed, struggles,
hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure, self-indulgence), and the distorted American Dream.
As such, this Oral Presentation aims to discuss the impact as well as the relations between the
song’s objective as well as how language could have been used to reach out to the community of
that particular time period. All in all, this presentations largely hopes to point out mainly the
hedonism in the 70s that this song targets.
To begin with, metaphors and symbols are heavily utilized throughout the entire song to effectively
bring out the song’s dreadful message of a hedonism-infested society. This can be seen in just the
title itself - “Hotel California” - in which the Eagles established it as the so called high life in
California, with California being associated with the entertainment industry and luxurious life-styles
of the wealthy. The title itself can also, therefore be seen as a light foreshadowing to the rest of the
song which portrays how the elusive American dream, when perverted by negative qualities such
as drugs and greed, becomes an American nightmare.
In the first stanza, the first line “On the dark desert highway” directly explains the setting with an
alliteration. The use of dark desert emphasizes the relatively dangerous pathway leading towards
the Hotel California, encompassed by a treacherous darkness and desolate area. The rest of the
verse continues to describe the set-up with visual - “I saw a shimmering light”, - organic - “My head
grew heavy and my sight grew dim”, - and olfactory “Warm smell of colitas” imagery, giving the
audience a thorough mental picture of the typical Los Angeles landscape and the protagonists’
confoundment of it, thereby leading him to head to the hotel. It’s worth noting that the term
“colitas” is sometimes interpreted as a reference to marijuana, thus implying the lyrics’ theme of
drug addiction. The last line of the first stanza ends with a short sentence, “I had to stop for the
night” to perhaps se...