When we’re plugged in and really listening to the words being sung by the artists producing them, it takes us to a place of wonder and angst, wanting to know who or what this specific line is about. Right? I know its not just me who wonders what influenced The Eagles’ Hotel California.
So today, we’re going behind the scenes to learn about the hangouts and heartbreakers that inspired such legendary music.
According to Time Life magazine, The Eagles’ iconic hit “Hotel California” , was what Don Henley framed as ” a journey from innocence to experience” while overcoming a bitter breakup with his ex-girlfriend. But beyond Henley, the band says its about “heroin addiction, Satan worship, the Beverly Hills Hotel; everybody wants to know what that song was about, and we don’t know”. Whatever the story may be, “Hotel California” put The Eagles on America’s list of best- selling albums. You can find their famous line “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave” at the exit of every Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
It was in 1968 when Lennon and Ono had gotten together and Lennon’s son Julian had been suffering from the divorce of his father and mother, Cynthia. It was McCartney who wrote “Hey Jude” in the midst of Julians suffering. Paul had been headed over to console Julian when he started singing ‘Hey, Jules’, but changed it to Jude because he thought it sounded better. Originally, Lennon thought McCartney made the song to comfort him after hooking up with Yoko Ono.
Green Day’s, “American Idiot” was originally written to protest the Iraq War and President George W. Bush. Billie Armstrong, Green Day’s front man, also wrote this song out of rage due to the media and their intent to create conflict among the American people. But, at the MTV Europe Music Awards, fingers were being pointed at a different president. Green Day changed the lyrics from “subliminal mind f— America” to “subliminal mind- Trump America” while asking the crowd “can you hear the sound of hysteria”. This album struck conflict among critics but won the band a pair of Tony Awards.
BORN TO RUN
At the age of 24, Bruce Springsteen became an instant rock star with the release of “Born to Run”. Living in a small, blue collar town in New Jersey, Springsteen was trapped and in desperate need for a hit. It took him six months for him to produce “Born to Run”, a ditty about a guy with a car who wants to woo a girl and ultimately, get out of town. “Born to Run” became an underground hit in the Jersey area, when finally Philadelphia and Cleveland stations would play his track to “officially launch the weekend”. Springsteen was yearning for escape, and this song was his ticket out.
I SHOT THE SHERIFF
Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” has many rumored back stories. One being that he has shot a local police officer claiming that he was acting in self defense. A more recently claim has been made by his former girlfriend Esther Anderson that the lyrics, “Sheriff John Brown always hated me, For what, I don’t know: Every time I plant a seed, He said kill it before it grow” are actually about Marley being very opposed to her use of birth control pills. Marley supposedly substituted the word “doctor” with sheriff.
There is so much out there to be learned about what ignites our favorite artists’ hit albums. The stories beyond the lyrics are what bring to character to an album and its playlist. Grab a TIME LIFE : Rock & Roll Magazine for more mind blowing stories behind your favorite song and the artists curating them.