“Hotel California” is not only one of the most iconic rock songs of all time but also one of the most controversial in music history. If you had to listen to this song in secret when it was released in 1976, your parents were probably more on the conservative side considering that this track was notoriously known as “that weird devil-worshiping song.” Every radio station aired this song which sparked a mystery on what the lyrics really meant. The story of the lyrics speaks ominous lines such as “Kill the beast”, “Stab it with their steely knives,” and “You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave”. Rumors began circulating saying that the song was about Satanism but The Eagles clarified that the song is more about speaking out against the greed and hedonism of the music industry in the 1970s like the typical issues of drugs, money and sex. Don Henley adds that it’s more about “a journey from innocence to experience… that’s all…”
This beautiful and haunting James Taylor song definitely plucks a heart string or two every time it’s played. Released as a single from his second album in 1970, this song is somewhat an autobiography of Taylor chronicling his reaction to the suicide of his childhood friend Suzanne Schnerr, his struggles with depression, fame, and drug and alcohol abuse. Though many people falsely believe the line “Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground” is because of a plane wreck, it actually references Taylor’s previous band The Flying Machine and his regret at the fall out and disbandment of the group. In 2015, Taylor told host Stephen Colbert that he had updated the song saying,
“The thing is, I wrote that song in 1970, I just hadn’t seen that much back then, mostly fire and rain. So that’s why I keep saying it over and over again since then.”
Probably the most famous rock song of all time, it would be an embarrassment not to know at least the lyrics to the chorus to “Stairway To Heaven. Speaking of lyrics, lots of questions arose about the meaning of the song and Robert Plant who wrote the song was asked why the song was so popular, he answered, “depending on what day it is, I still interpret the song a different way – and I wrote the lyrics.” He added it was “a woman getting everything she wanted without giving anything back.” Still pretty vague but at least he somehow sort of cleared that up. “Stairway to Heaven” was placed at number 31 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. It was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the United States in the 1970s.