The album that forever changed my understanding of music.,
This review is from: Hotel California (Jpn) (Audio CD)
She'd taped a cool new song off the radio, a friend told me some 30 years ago; she'd play it for me when I'd come to her place after school.
The song was "Hotel California," and my perception of music changed then and there, once and for all. I didn't even really understand the lyrics -- I had barely begun to learn English, and apart from everything else I sure as hell didn't know what "colitas" meant. But understanding all the song's words wasn't necessary. From the first chords played by Felder and Walsh, this song was different from anything I had ever heard before. The layers of electric guitar riffs alternating with and ornamenting Don Henley's vocals, soaring in the chorus and culminating in a moving and evocative duet, touched a spot deep inside me that required no further explanation. Nor, really, did the other songs on this album which I instantaneously knew I had to have. I got the message conveyed in the raw edges of "Life in the Fast Lane," Joe Walsh's riffs throughout the song, the two guitar solos and Don Henley's sneering vocals, as well as I could hear the sense of loss in "Wasted Time," "The Last Resort" and "New Kid in Town."
This is not to say, of course, that the lyrics didn't matter to me once I was able to fully understand them. Rather, that understanding deepened my appreciation for the album; and yet another level of insight was added when I came to California for the first time in 1991. By that time I was an ardent fan, and although the Eagles didn't even exist as a band back then, their music has become an inseparable part of my memory of those months - particularly the album which bears the state's name and is so often called the quintessential California rock album (not only of the 1970s) that this description in itself is bordering on clich' now, true as it may once have been.
Since the release of their 1976 studio album, the Eagles have published several other versions of "Hotel California," and I love them all. (I even -- sometimes -- like the ska version Don Henley and his incredible tour band performed during their 2001 "Inside Job" tour.) But ultimately, it all comes back down for me to the duet of those two electric guitars which forever redefined the way I listen to music.