The Alternate Title Of The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California,’ According To Don Felder
Almost everybody would agree that ‘Hotel California‘ is the best-known song by the Eagles, which completely changed the band’s future. The iconic track marked a turning point in their career and quickly became a chart-topper. It stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 19 weeks and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1978.
While the song impressed the listeners with its powerful lyrics, it also sparked a heated debate due to the various interpretations given by fans and critics. Besides the lyrics, the song’s name has also been debated. Some wondered whether ‘Hotel California’ was a real-life hotel or where it was exactly located. There is also an alternate title to the song, as revealed by the band’s lead guitarist Don Fenley.
What Could The Title Of ‘Hotel California’ Have Been, According To Don Felder?
During his appearance on Gear Factor in 2019, Don Felder discussed the Eagles’ most famous song, ‘Hotel California,’ and gave essential details about the making process of the track. His bandmate, Bernie Leadon, advised Felder to write songs so that they could work on them together later on for the band’s upcoming albums. Then, the guitarist came up with 15 or 16 song ideas.
His demo of ‘Hotel California’ that was included among these songs immediately attracted Don Henley and Glenn Frey’s attraction. Then, the two started to work on the concept of the lyrics. Neither of them was from California, but their trip to Los Angeles inspired them while writing the song’s lyrics. Eventually, they came up with an impressive narration similar to a cinematic work.
Don Felder also reflected on the recording process of the iconic song and stated that they started recording in California, but they finished more of it in Miami. Thus, Felder revealed that according to him, the song’s title should’ve been ‘Hotel Miami‘ instead of ‘Hotel California‘ as they spent more time at the studio in Miami during the recording process.
The recording took some time since Don Henley insisted that Don Felder should’ve played as he did in the demo. Felder couldn’t play it in the same way, and then he had to listen to the demo repeatedly to make the same guitar work. Felder realized later on that Henley was right in his point because the sound in the demo was unique. They finally completed the recording and released it as the second single of their fifth album from the same name.
Don Felder speaking on the alternate title of ‘Hotel California:’
“The whole ‘Hotel California’ thing came together in between the time period where we finished one of these nights. We’re out on the road; we’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do. I had been told by Bernie Leadon that if I wanted to write songs with the Eagles, I should write music bits. ‘You can hit melodies, you can give them song-lyric ideas, but just give them music bits to write to.’
So I had made a tape of about 15 or 16 song ideas, one of which was my demo of ‘Hotel California‘ that I made in my bedroom with acoustic 12-string; me playing bass, Roland drum machine, trying to simulate a guitar part between Joe and me, me playing the reggae part, pretty much the basics of the whole concept musically came out of that demo.
When we got into the studio down in Miami – as a matter of fact, it really should’ve been called ‘Hotel Miami,’ because we recorded more of it in Miami than we did in California – down there came time for us to record the solos, so Joe and I are sitting in the studio with two guitars, and we’re just trading off. Henley comes walking in, saying, ‘Stop! What are you doing? That’s not right.'”
“I’m, like, ‘What do you mean it’s not right?’ He’s going, ‘You got to play it just like the demo.’ He’d been listening to the demo over and over for over a year now, and I said, ‘Well, I don’t know what the hell I played. I just made that up.’ He said, ‘Well, we got to get that down so you can learn it.’
So I had to call my housekeeper back in Malibu, and she went through a bunch of cassettes, put the cassette, the original demo cassette, in the blaster, played it, and put the phone up to it so we could record it in Miami so I could sit and learn what I had just, you know, thrown off the cuff.
And he was right, it was a very kind of unique melodic progression that had been written, but the notes in that solo fell right where the chords were supposed to go, and so I guess about the first part of the solo we did that, and then Joe and I just kind of went for it after that.”
You can watch the rest of the interview and listen to ‘Hotel California’ below.