Henley, Frey and co. spent most of the nation’s bicentennial year locked in a studio making a record about the nation on the verge of its bicentennial. Decadence was their major topos, and they wanted to reference drugs and innocence lost and lots of other stuff, though, like much of their catalog, Hotel California seems a lot smarter when you listen to it than when you talk about it. “Life in the Fast Lane” drew a line between the band’s country-tinged past and rock and roll future, but the big hit was the title track, a sprawling epic with Satanic undertones that might have been subconsciously cribbed from Jethro Tull’s “We Used to Know” when the bands toured together. As for the warm smell of colitas, fans are split on whether the word is Spanish slang for cannabis buds or an easy lay. Given the band and the era, the safest guess is both.
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