Mal Evans (the voice who counted to 24 in A Day in the Life) is killed in Los Angeles on January 5th, 1976; 9 years to the day after Paul and John did the still never heard Avante-Garde Beatles piece, Carnival of Light.
Paul did the vocals to Penny Lane the same night.
Remember the Carnival and the Penny.
Exactly 9 years into our journey towards December 8th, 1980 sees Hotel California released by the Eagles on December 8th 1976.
If I had to pick the songs that growing up I really wondered about as it related to demonic activity, Stairway to Heaven would be one. Hotel California is certainly the other.
I used to listen to the album over and over, in my room with headphones on as a kid, and this song for some reason legitimately scared me. (I think it’s the only song I can remember from the 70s that did)
It’s allegorical nature is almost predictable, without getting too embroiled into the debate about what this song refers to: The Eagles could have intended it as a metaphor for drug usage, certainly the loss of innocence and the Music Industry lifestyle in California is another. Others believe that it is referring to a mental hospital.
The Steely Knives that the Eagles are hoping will kill the beast definitely seem to be an ode to Steely Dan; whose lyrics are as deep and often questioned as Lennon’s or Dylan’s.
It quite obviously can also be taken to refer to Satanism, whether it does or not is probably secondary to the fact that millions took it that way and regardless of whether it’s true it should be common sense that they would have understood upfront how people were going to interpret the song.
When I went to do a cursory check of the LP on Wikipedia for this article I almost started laughing to myself as I started clicking through.
Like I said, this song actually did scare me when I was a kid; I just had a hunch that the release date was going to fit our context somehow.
Sure enough, the release date of Hotel California was December 8th, 1976.
Then, knowing the history of the song, I decided to check the song in reverse. John Lennon is mentioned 3 times in Hotel California when played backwards.
It’s interesting too that Snopes.com has gone to the trouble of debunking the Hotel California – Satanist theories, listing a number of the theories for the song listed here.
What’s odd in it is they do tend to give some credence to the images in the cover of Hotel California, even referring to the image in the above video as “An Elmer McCurdy event”.
Elmer McCurdy was an old west outlaw that was embalmed after his death and paraded around carnivals; he was found by a stagehand of the crew of The Six Million Dollar Man while they were shooting an episode on location at a carnival in Long Beach. The stage hand thought he was a mannequin and when he went to move him, an arm fell off. They contacted the police who filed a report on the bizarre incident.
The report is dated December 8th, 1976; the same day that Hotel California was released. I sort of doubt that Snopes realized this when they connected the two events in their debunking…
Number 9? Turn me on dead man? Nah, couldn’t be…but here’s something really odd. Paul McCartney traveled to America and stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel on June 20th, 1968 while John laid down the tracks for Revolution Number 9. The Beverly Hills Hotel is the front cover of Hotel California.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could take the two songs and combine them?
Elmer McCurdy had a 1924 penny lodged in his mouth when they found him.