Both The Eagles and F. Scott Fitzgerald agree that there is a dark side to the American Dream that is often hidden from view. Wealth often corrupts people by decaying the moral principles which they once lived by, causing greed, materialism, hedonism, drug abuse, and deep dissatisfaction from which it is sometimes impossible to escape.
The American Dream
the possibility of success, happiness, and self-fulfillment for every American citizen, regardless of social rank defined by the ideals of equal opportunity, self-sufficiency, and happiness achieved through sacrifice, hard work, and risk taking immigrants are often attracted to this promise of opportunity
Its dark side:
moral decay/corruption materialism a facade of happiness insatiable greed
written at peak of The Eagles' career describes the self-destruction, greed, excess, and hedonism in the music industry (esp. Los Angeles) the whole song is an allegory has never been fully explained by the writers (therefore there are many interpretations) won the Grammy for Best Record in 1977
Reference to Pop Culture:
"Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air"
Colitas = Spanish slang for marijuana.
Represents the drug culture of the 1970s. moral corruption
"This could be Heaven or this could be Hell" (2nd verse)
explains the two sides of fame and fortune
Diction revealing tone:
1. "She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends" (3rd verse).
reveals the cynicism, sarcasm, and criticism in Don Henley's tone the superficial reality of the American Dream is highlighted
2. "Some dance to remember, some dance to forget" (3rd verse).
shows the shallowness and impersonality of the rich and famous the drug-induced haze of the 70s
Other Elements of Style:
pun: "she got the Mercedes bends" (3rd verse)
imagery: "Mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice" (5th verse)
contradiction: "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device" (5th verse)
contradiction: "You can check-out any time you like/But you can never leave!" (6th verse)
Connection to THE GG
The Great Gatsby is a reflection on the moral decay of society in the 1920s understanding Hotel California's meaning deepens understanding of the corruption in the novel
F. Scott Fitzgerald and Don Henley noticed the same characteristics in people in two different eras 50 years apart.