Monday, February 14, 2011

1969 - "Hotel California" Conjures Up a Miracle Year

The Grammy Awards were last night. I never watch them. The reason is my attitude - I think pop music these days sucks in every way possible. I know, it's my problem, it's my attitude. The young people today may very well be rocking to these tunes and will remember them with feeling all their lives. Or not. I wouldn't know.

But there are classic rock songs that make me stop and listen, listen real close, and feel the feelings I had "back in the day." Real music like this 1977 Grammy Record of the Year award-winner: "Hotel California," performed by the Eagles, written by Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey.

I heard it again recently. When the song got to the part, "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine," memories of an exciting time of life blossomed in my mind.

1969, man. War, race, space, sex - everything was being turned upside down, and no one knew which end was up. It was in the music. Woodstock. It even seemed to be in sports.

In 1969, the New York Jets became the first AFL team to beat an NFL team for the championship - in Super Bowl III. Joe Namath audaciously predicted victory against the great Baltimore Colts, led by legend Johnny Unitas. And then he delivered. It was considered one of the biggest upsets in sports history. It was magical.

In 1969, the New York Mets defeated the Baltimore Orioles in five games to win the World Series for the first time - another biggest upset in sports history. They were called "The Miracle Mets.

In 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and human beings stepped foot on another planet for the first time. And the event was broadcast live on television. Miraculous.

I observed these events from afar, from my bunker in Vietnam. For me, that was the fourth miracle of 1969. I survived my combat experience and returned home a whole person.

The first of Carlos Castaneda's ten books - The Teachings of Don Juan - was published in 1969. And I would begin a learning journey that has endured to the present day. Nearly everything I know that matters I learned after 1969.

Here are the lyrics to "Hotel California" (YT video and soundtrack below)...

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
'This could be Heaven or this could be Hell'
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

So I called up the Captain,
'Please bring me my wine'
He said, 'We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine'
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax,' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'

Later, Henley explained that the lyrics were about the excesses of American life, a typical counter-culture theme. Man, they just don't make music like this anymore.


Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .


Sarcastic Bastard said...

I agree that music today sucks, Denny. Hotel California is one of my all-time favorite songs. I enjoyed reading of the memories the song conjures up for you.

Love to you,


Beth said...

I graduated from high school in 1969, left home, went straight to the University of Florida to start school in the summer session, and began to find my life.

I was in a place just this week and said to Buck, "This is like the Hotel California, where people can check out, but they never leave." Thanks for the video!

Terri said...

I've been doing a little songwriting lately, so I found your blog quite thought-provoking. Hotel California is quite a composition, saying so much between the lines with such elegance. Another masterpiece, but for different reasons is the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" song. 1966.