The Dark Side Of Hotel California....
Almost everyone agrees that “Hotel California” by the Eagles is an absolute classic song, but people aren’t quite as sure over what it’s about. There are a multitude of theories surrounding the subject matter of “Hotel California,” only one of which has been confirmed by the band as true. However, a solid case can be made for some of the alternate interpretations. Even if they aren’t “official,” they’re still interesting,I’ll look at the lyrics (and beyond) through a different lens, giving support for the many different ways of looking at the song.
I want to take a look at one of the most controversial interpretations of the lyrics. According to some people (mostly Evangelical Christians), “Hotel California” is secretly about Satanism. Is it? Let’s take a look at the reasons for this claim:
1. Supposedly there was a Christian church in California (or on a California Street, depending where you look) that was abandoned in 1969. Later a group of Satan worshippers took over the building, converting it into a Satanic worship place. Followers of this theory point to the lyric “we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine” (the “spirit” being the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which left with the Christians in 1969). It’s also interesting to note that the “The Satanic Bible” was first published in 1969. Some people even refer to the lyric before that line (“So I called up the captain, ‘please bring me my wine’”) as evidence that the Eagles were referring to the blood of Christ, symbolically portrayed in Communion rituals as wine.
2. “The master” referred to in the lyrics could be referencing Anton LaVey, leader of the Church of Satan, and supposed owner of this Satanic worship center.
2. The lyric “This could be Heaven or this could be Hell” sets a religious tone and invokes a feeling of moral ambiguity, as one might feel when being tempted.
3. The lyric “They just can’t kill the beast,” in which the “beast” is either Satan, as he is referred to in the Bible, or well-known occult figure Aleister Crowley, who went by the nickname “the beast.”
4. The lyric “What a nice surprise, bring your alibis,” which refers to the way many Satanists would lie about their allegiance to Church of Satan.
5. The lyrics “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device” and “You can check out at any time you like, but you can never leave” seem to refer to people who have taken a binding oath, which Church of Satan members were rumored to have done.
5. This wouldn’t be the only time the Eagles had used dark religious themes in their music. One of their other songs is called “Have a Good Day in Hell,” and they have a live album called Hell Freezes Over.
6. One of the most convincing arguments of the Satanism theory involves the imagery on the album jacket itself. In this photo, which can be seen on the jacket, pay close attention to the middle window sitting above the crowd of people:
A small, shadowy figure can be seen overlooking the party. When you take a closer look at it…
… the bald-headed face resembles Anton LaVey’s! I’ve read that the person up on the balcony was actually just a woman the band hired for the photo, but why would she stand up there, mysteriously?
7. Take a look at the back cover of the album:
There’s one lone person in this photo – a janitor sweeping up after the party, one would assume. Not according to the people who are convinced “Hotel California” is about Satanism. There are two theories concerning the janitor – the first is that he is actually a dead body being propped up by a mop. (Some people even take this farther, claiming he was sacrificed by LaVey himself.) The second theory is that when the band took the photo, they thought they had captured the image of an empty hotel lobby. Only when they got the picture developed did they see the image of the janitor appear, making him some kind of ghost.
As you can probably imagine, there’s no real evidence to back any of this up.
8. And finally, in a move that seems way too direct to be true, supposedly Don Henley, one of the writers of the song, said in an interview, “We made the whole thing up as a symbol. The song’s just about Satanism. I don’t know why people have to twist its meaning all up.” I can’t find any convincing record of this, however.
So, is “Hotel California” really about Satanism? I don’t think so. Many of these highly imaginative rumors have no evidence behind them, and the band has denied that the song was about Anton LaVey’s pseudo-religion. However, some people to this day hold to the belief that the Eagles were secretly trying to convert the masses into devil worshippers with this song. Now you can at least understand where they’re coming from, right?