The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, October 22, 2004

You mean there's a subtext in rock music?

Lately I've been retuning in to 88.5 WKPX, a radio station broadcast out of a local high school. It tends to have much better programming than commercial stations and absolutely no annoying car commercials. Then again, it has no commercials whatsoever, being publically funded. On the gripping hand, the PSAs do wear a bit thin, especially the ones done by the high school staff (editing people! Just tightening up the timings would do wonders!).

But hey, it's high school, and there is a wide variety of music.

So anyway, I tune into WKPX and I happend to catch the end of a “Classic Rock” show showcasing all the hits of the late 60s/70s. Brought me back to when I first heard “Hotel California” by the Eagles:

On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas
Rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance
I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy, and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night

As a kid, I wasn't aware of subtext, or the extended use of metaphore (you mean that the Vapors' Turning Japanese isn't about overt love of Nippon? Shocking!) that is commonly used in rock songs, so here I thought, for years that Hotel California was about, you know, a haunted hotel in California. It's a common thing in America, right? Why else would Hollywood make a movie about a haunted hotel?

There she stood in the doorway
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself
“This could be Heaven or this could be Hell.”
Then she lit up a candle
And she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor
I thought I heard them say

As I slowly became aware of such double meanings behind words, it slowly sank into me that this song wasn't about a haunted hotel—no, when I thought about what the lyrics were implying, listening close whenever I happened to catch it on the radio (which wasn't hard as this, Stairway to Heaven, and Satisfaction was on constant rotate on the “Classic Rock” station here in Lower Sheol), I woke up and my naïve interpretation crumbled before me.

Her mind is Tiffany twisted
She's got the Mercedes bends
She's got a lot of pretty, pretty boys
That she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard
Sweet summer sweat
Some dance to remember
Some dance to forget

Why … this is … this song … is about sex with a minor!

Mirrors on the ceiling
Pink champagne on ice
And she said
We are all just prisoners here
Of our own device

So now we have a temptress, living out her waning years at some Californian hotel, inviting in impressionable young men to keep her entertained, using them like himbos and discarding them, but only after making sure they're there of their own free will (for “plausible deniability” I'm sure of it—“Honest Officer! He said he was eighteen!”).

But in the years since, it has come to my attention that not even this interpretation is correct and that the subtext not spoken aloud yet clearly visible to anyone with an ounce of clue can see, is that it's about heroine addiction!

And in the master's chambers
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives
But they just can't kill the beast
Last thing I remember
I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
“Relax,” said the nightman
“We are programed to recieve
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave!”

I still like the ghostly sex with a minor interpretation myself.

Although, what if one were to combine all three interpretations into a video of the song? A ghostly apparition of an older female heroine junkie that lures in young impressionable men to damn them for all eternity listening to a classic rock station playing nothing other than

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely place (background)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year
Any time of year (background)
You can find it here
You can find it here

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