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Listening to any musical genre, but especially pop genres like rock 'n' roll there are those certain songs that have become absolutely anthemic, instantly recognizable and unforgettable. Maybe its a specific feel, or a particular combination of great songwriting, catchy hooks and musicality that has caused these songs to be permanently etched into our culture, or maybe its just a feel that we identify with and like.
For whatever reason, I don't think anyone can dismiss the Eagles classic, "Hotel California" as anything but a rock anthem for. One of the first songs I heard by the Eagles when I first discovered them, (obviously years after they were at their height as I was not even born yet) and it rapidly became one of my favorite songs as like all budding guitarists I attempted to learn its delicate guitar parts.
Although, like all very popular rock songs it has been a bit overplayed by radio just like "Stairway to Heaven," "Layla" and "Who Are You" but I don't think that necessarily detracts from its quality, nor does it for any of the other songs I have mentioned. It is one of those songs that will just forever remain as a part of popular culture and a cultural icon.
Wanting to write something about the Eagles, I thought I would start with a bit about this song, as it is probably their most recognizable. Being able to hear it can always help and so I found a pretty cool video from '76 of the Eagles performing the song live.
Here is the video, as always thanks to YouTube etc etc:
I like watching concert footage because it lets you a) see the band in action on stage, and b) see how they interpreted some of these amazing songs for a live audience. I'm a firm believer that although there are a number of works that are fantastic albums, work perfectly as complete works of art themselves and that albums can stand on their own... some music just needs to be performed live.
As a guitarist I found it especially interesting to see how they voiced this song live, using a double neck electric guitar, acoustic and another electric as I never realized that was how the perfectly crafted and layered guitar parts were done. I also figured that Joe Walsh would handle the majority of the solos, specifically those done during the verses, but the Eagles were never a band light on guitarists and so it doesn't surprise me that that isn't how it happened.
The performance is pretty clean for a live show and I was a little disappointed that the band didn't stretch the song out significantly and take it in new directions, elaborate or scruff it up. Had they, it probably would have been longer (even the recorded version is a long song) and had to have been more cut off on the end than it already is to fit online. Still, it is a great performance and I actually prefer this live version over others I've heard/seen, despite being significantly closer to the album version than the newer arrangements done on more recent Eagles tours... Well, accept for the entirely acoustic version as that was a great idea that really worked well for this song.
I would be shocked if anyone familiar at all with rock music has not heard this song, but it is still a cool little live version to check out. Maybe it'll inspire a few people to check out more by this legendary band.
"Hotel California" will surely remain a rock 'n' roll classic and anthem for generations to come, as well as a significant stepping stone for new guitarists. Maybe that says something about our culture or the generation that gave birth to it, but I think it's just great music with a great feel and that is primarily why it has stuck with so many people over the years.