Hotel California

“If I had known then what I know now…”, Edward Louis Severson III

Listening to this album brings back bittersweet memories to me.  I first heard it when I was pretty young.  Mi madre was (and still is) a huge Don Henley fan, and she had several Eagles albums when I was a kid.  This album was released the year I was born, 1976, and growing up in Northeast Ohio, it seemed like the Eagles were always on the radio.  And because of their crossover country pop rock genre, it seems like they were on every radio station format.  But most of all, I remember “Hotel California” and “New Kid In Town” being on the jukebox at Eddie’s Grill in Geneva-On-The-Lake.  Pretty much every time we went to Eddie’s, mi madre would drop a quarter in the table-side jukebox and we would wait for those two songs to play while we ate our burgers and drank our root beer.  And, as the only thing that ever changes at Eddie’s are the prices (you can see the paint spots on the wall where they paint over last year’s prices), those two songs are still on the jukebox there to this very day.

The above memories are the sweet ones.  The bitter ones happened later in my teenage years when I was trying to learn the intricacies of high school dating.  It was toward the beginning of my junior year of high school and I had just had my first ever summer fling while working as a carnie at Eriewview Park.  I was single again and doing a fantastic job striking out with every girl I had a crush on.  Sometime in the late fall there was a school dance and a bunch of us (Gear Head, Black Cloud, and the gang) were hanging out and acting stupid and dancing in a big circle (there will always be safety in numbers).  Suddenly on the periphery of our group a girl appeared, and by some strange miracle of fate, she seemed interested in me.  And the Gear Head.  The game was on…which young, socially awkward, sheltered, innocent teenage boy would win the girl?  Somehow I started saying all the right things…she was laughing at my lame jokes and she seemed genuinely interested in my mundane topics of conversation.  Things were going well, but I knew I needed a slow song to seal the deal.  I happened to know the DJs (it was a small school, everybody knew everybody), so I ran over to the booth and asked for a slow song…any slow song!  He played “Hotel California”…and thus the major relationship of my high school years (we dated for a year and a half after the dance) began to a song about being trapped in a  bad situation. And for the entire time we dated, “Hotel California” was “our song”.   Oh the irony!  I guess its no surprise the relationship didn’t work out.  C’est la vie.  Youth is wasted on the young.

So I must have gotten this CD sometime during those mushy years of high school romance.  It is definitely used, and the case has “CAM” written on the back in black magic marker.  So Cam, if you’re out there, rest easy knowing that I’ve taken good care of your CD over the years.  I’m guessing I probably bought it at the flea market in the old Nichol’s department store building, as that was the only place that had used CDs when I was in high school.  Nichol’s was a great department store when I was a kid (I remember they had a playable Atari and Intellivision display when I was young, and I also used to find Transformers and Super Powers action figures there), but they went under sometime in the mid-to-late 80s.  After that the building was used for a flea market, and there was a guy there that always had a pretty good selection of used CDs.  Gear Head, Black Cloud, and I would go there often to buy CDs by crappy bands like Warrant, Whitesnake, and Skid Row.  So yeah, my guess is that I bought this CD there when I was a lovestruck teenager.

Other lists: “Hotel California” is #49 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.  Don Henley is ranked at #87 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers, and Joe Walsh, who makes his first appearance with the Eagles on this album, is ranked as #54 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists.  The Eagles also make the list of the 100 Greatest Artists, coming in at #75.

My favorite track: “Hotel California”

Honorable mention: “Victim of Love”

Quote 1: “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”

Quote 2: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”