Getting lost in music of the 70s is a great way to calm a racing mind at 3 AM. Really listening to the awesome lyrics and pondering the meaning of each line, each verse either puts me back to sleep or spurs my creative side into action. Sometimes I find myself just staring into the darkness – seemingly neither asleep or awake, but quite aware of the steady beat and one poetic verse after another. It’s then that Hotel California by the Eagles starts playing in my ears…
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
What motivated the great songwriters of this era? From the late-60s and through the 70s it was a different time for sure, but not really much different than today. War, drugs, protests & riots, and recession made the headlines then as they do now. Is it a cycle, or is just a plethora of unsettled business that has lingered on for the past 50 years, a beast raising its ugly head now and again to keep our attention?
War or conflict – whichever was a more politically correct term for those speaking about it or listening to the rhetoric of the day.
The Vietnam War was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
The Vietnam War is the commonly used name for the Second Indochina War, 1954–1975. Usually, it refers to the period when the United States and other members of the SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) joined the forces with the Republic of South Vietnam to contest communist forces, comprised of South Vietnamese guerrillas and regular-force units, generally known as Viet Cong (VC), and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). The U.S., possessing the largest foreign military presence, essentially directed the war from 1965 to 1968.
For this reason, in Vietnam today it is known as the American War. It was a direct result of the First Indochina War (1946–1954) between France, which claimed Vietnam as a colony, and the communist forces then known as Viet Minh. In 1973 a “third” Vietnam war began—a continuation, actually—between North and South Vietnam but without significant U.S. involvement. It ended with communist victory in April 1975. (credit to historynet.com)
Decades of Drug Use: Data From the ’60s and ’70s.
The scare tactics of the 1960s gave way to the contradictory messages of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Drugs became glamorous, without becoming better understood. In fact, the 1981 book The Truth About Drugs — The Body, Mind and You by Gene Chill and John Duff asserted that cocaine wasn’t addictive. The ranks of those who had tried illegal drugs grew — in 1973, 12% of respondents to a Gallup poll said they had tried marijuana. That number had doubled by 1977.
As drug use increased, many Americans began to see it as a problem. In 1978, 66% of Americans said marijuana was a serious problem in the high schools or middle school in their area, and 35% said the same of hard drugs.
While more Americans were willing to admit they tried marijuana, acceptance of it was still slow in coming. In 1978, 21% said they would welcome increased acceptance of marijuana, while 72% said they would not. That percentage who would welcome an increased acceptance decreased to 13% three years later and was just 11% when last asked in 1991. In 1978, 83% of Americans said it was very important that high school graduates with no plans for college “know the health hazards of smoking, use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.” (credit to JENNIFER ROBISON and NewsGallup.com).
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 1969. 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.
Protests and sadly, riots.
As for protests, Wikipedia lists the number of protests from the 50s through the 90s as follows: 50 from 1950-1959, 106 from 1960-1969 with the majority occurring from 1967-1969, 43 from 1970-1979, and only 11 from 1980-1989 and 12 from 1990-1999.
Riots differ from lawful protests or demonstrations because of the violence that ensues. They also differ from these events in that they’re more chaotic and disorganized. While you may receive an invite to a protest or spend hours planning an effective assembly, riots are more akin to massive mind melds between individuals.
The people who participate in a riot may have never met one another before, but they’re likely all linked by an underlying social problem or complaint. Poverty and race form the bedrock of many riots. People who lack economic opportunity often participate in a riot because they have nothing to lose by doing so, whereas middle- and upper-class people tend to stay away from these violent events that could sully their livelihood. Race becomes an issue when a particular ethnicity feels that they’re always singled out for punishment or when a different ethnicity encroaches on their perceived turf. With both social issues, the affected people likely feel that they’re not getting a fair shake from the government. (credit to Molly Edmonds and people.howstuffworks.com)
Recession; economic uncertainty.
The recession of the time in the U.S. lasted from November 1973 (the Richard Nixon presidency) to March 1975 (the Gerald Ford presidency), and its effects on the US were felt through the Jimmy Carter presidency until the mid-term of Ronald Reagan’s first term as president, characterized by low economic growth.
Economic recessions are caused by a loss of business and consumer confidence. As confidence recedes, so does demand. A recession is a tipping point in the business cycle when ongoing economic growth peaks, reverses, and becomes ongoing economic contraction.
A decline in the gross domestic product growth is often listed as a cause of a recession, but it’s more of a warning signal that a recession is already underway. The GDP is only reported after a quarter is over, so the recession has probably already been underway for a couple months by the time the GDP turns negative. (credit to KIMBERLY AMADEO thebalance.com)
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!”
What is the true meaning of Hotel California?
The same narrative is found in The Magus, going from sincere idealism and earnest curiosity to a sense of darkness and despondence, runs parallel to so much. Like coming of age and the loss of innocence. Or the sparkling allure of golden age California’s dashing but dangerous lifestyle of cash and drugs. Or the energetically revolutionary but eventually fleeting spirit of the 1960s. And maybe even the entire American experience.
You start with nothing. It all looks so good! Then you get everything. And you get crushed under the weight of everything’s excess. What was it all for to begin with? So “Hotel California” is a sort of broad allegory for rising and falling? Maybe. (credit to ETHAN REESE and americansongwriter.com)
*Hotel California by the Eagles; recorded 1976, released 1977
Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!