POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
Every blogger faces one post that becomes the nightmare, at least, any blogger that pushes to be a cut above the norm. The article that makes a writer twitch at night, disturbing an already not deep enough sleep. While researching a song for another article I planned on writing, I stumbled into a mystery that made little sense. A song that is lyrically confusing, written by a band that doesn’t want to discuss the subject which in turn would keep the album and its sales on the front burner. All the while, a public that usually clamors for all things conspiracy nods along with the band’s ever-changing explanation of the song that is six minutes and thirty seconds of pure contradiction to said explanations. Hotel California is the music industry’s answer to the JFK assassination. Face facts, when 60 Minutes raises questions about the song, there is a thirst for answers.
Hotel California has long been rumored to be a nod to the Church of Satan and it’s founder, Anton LeVay, with certain groups pointing to a picture within the album that supposedly shows LeVay in the background. The band has constantly denied the allegations, leaving a mess of religious groups, musicians and conspiracy theorists in a battle royal of ideological stances. All the while, in the background of the discussion, the actual subject matter looms like a mysterious oasis on the western horizon. More precisely, right off Highway 101 in Los Angeles. You see, the Hotel California is the Church of Scientology’s famed Celebrity Centre.
I’m sure the band found the irony delicious. Many voices wildly proclaiming the Church of Satan was obviously the subject matter in the song, all the while the real church in question quietly stands just a bit further away. Yet, it isn’t the location that really sets this musical conspiracy apart. It’s the time.
When failed sci-fi writer and founder of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard began his religious journey, he had documented on several occasions that a new religion would need credibility to launch and maintain itself. Hubbard knew how the public was enamored with fame and celebrities, thus initiating “Project Celebrity”, wooing public icons to back his new religion, which was shown in an article by Business Insider . Vaunted names from Edward R. Murrow to Walt Disney were courted as far back as 1955 to voice support. Celebrities were often invited in to the fold, to see just how wonderful Hubbard’s dream could become.
Enter The Eagles, quickly becoming a staple in the music industry and certainly on the CoS’s radar. At some point in the early 1970’s, I believe that at least one of the band members, more than likely Henley, got the sales pitch to sign up to what was then a much more underground version of the CoS that we all know and question today.
So, how does one go about luring rock stars in for a meeting? That part is easy…women and drugs. Upon listening to Hotel California, one will notice that the presence of woman is referred to over several times, moving the song’s protagonist through the tale. Not just a symbol, the woman in question has been confirmed by the band as a “mixture” of real life contacts, which may have been the greeter for the band upon visiting the Celebrity Centre.
In fact, a line in Hotel California brings up the moment, “there she stood in the doorway, I heard the mission bell….” A quick visit to Google Maps will show that the front door of the Celebrity Centre does in fact face Highway 101. Why is that important? Because Highway 101 is one of the most historic paths in all of California, marking the original trail linking 21 missions together, which is also known as the El Camino Real. Lining the highway as historical markers are none other than mission bells, although I believe the line is actually in reference that one can easily hear the traffic on the 101 from the front door of the Celebrity Centre. It was the first stop on the CoS tour for The Eagles.
“I was thinking to myself, this could be Heaven, and this could be Hell” is a nice lyrical jab by the band, since the CoS doctrine believes in neither. Upon researching this, however, the CoS appears to be extremely reward/punishment based. The CoS obviously has a long history of heaping lavish rewards and benefits to someone with promise, yet there is also the side that has shown members being forced to run in punishment circles around a fixed object, as seen here.
All throughout the song, clues are dropped several times such as reference to corridors, courtyards and physical notifications that have been long used to describe the interior of the Centre, even as far back when it was known as the Chateau Elysee before the church took ownership. The visuals help connect the listener with the tour, but really, there is one stinging line in the song that is the signpost for the clueless. However, back when the song was written, research wasn’t nearly as easy since the internet didn’t exist, and The Eagles may have felt the line would go under the radar. It did so for many years, but did raise some eyebrows. The line in question:
“So I called up the Captain…” seems to be yet another jab, but overlooked since many do not fully understand the background of L. Ron Hubbard. His father a Navy man, Hubbard had long desired a command post, and in 1938, Hubbard tried to enter the U.S. Air Corps with a fictitious background, granting himself the title “Captain Hubbard”, as documented in this letter. For a brief time during World War II, Hubbard did indeed captain two ships, before being removed and being labeled as incapable of command. Upon outing Hubbard as “the Captain”, The Eagles continue the line which confused so many.
“…please bring me my wine. He said ‘we haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.’”. Anyone that has the slightest background in how beverages are made will spot this line as odd for the simple fact that wines are fermented, spirits are distilled. Henley has been questioned about this poor choice of words, launching into his usual defense of the meaning being a “sociopolitical statement”, which makes little sense on the matter.
Upon investigation, however, 1969 shows up as one of the most important years in the history of the CoS. 1969 was the year the CoS was given a full stamp of approval as an actual religion and the year the Celebrity Centre itself was purchased and unveiled to the public. That year would mark the event when the CoS would usher all things Christianity out of the historic Chateau Elysee, referred here as the wine/spirit, out of the Celebrity Centre. The line also indicates that at some point, a meeting between L. Ron Hubbard and members of the band may have taken place.
It isn’t much deeper into the song when the protagonist is “running for the door”, which is what The Eagles probably were thinking during the courting process, and decided the CoS just wasn’t for whomever was invited from the band. Obviously the line “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave” puts a nice little bow on this sentiment, since the CoS has long been known to be extremely difficult to part company with due to statements from former members.
If there is a heart to this mystery, it is one that lies amongst the band itself. The band has contradicted itself on several occasions, at one point saying Hotel California is about the music industry, trapping artists in a self-made prison of fame and fortune which cannot be escaped from, which is in actuality, backwards. Artists try to break into the music industry on a daily basis, but leaving is never the goal. In fact, the desired result is to stay in as long as possible. The band backtracked on this thought process, then switching to a story of over indulgence in America, which again, Henley never fully explained.
It wasn’t until Henley was cornered on 60 Minutes that he then professed that the song was about The Eagles first initial years in the music industry, eluding to the fact they had overindulged and created their own prison without walls. This explanation could have held water, if not for the fact that to bolster the excuse, the band pointed out that most of the songs on the album were about somehow entering in and being trapped by the music industry. For one of the most creative bands on the 1970’s music scene to somehow label an entire album based on the single topic of their own overindulgence was completely laughable. What many can’t seem to understand is, why would the band shrug off all discussion about the song? Would the end result of more band publicity and thus more sales not be desirable?
Only a few insiders will know the truth for sure, but it is highly possible The Eagles agreed never to discuss a meeting with the CoS, wrote a song as an inside joke about the experience, and didn’t expect that song to become a keystone of American rock music. As far as the Church of Scientology’s stance, I’m sure they’d use words such as “laughable” or “far-fetched” to describe my claims. Keep in mind, this is the same group that attempted to purge unflattering reports of the CoS and L. Ron Hubbard by infiltrating no less than 136 government agencies known as Operation Snow White in the early 1970’s. They are hardly a reliable source, and of course, as stands with any of my articles, I welcome a debate from any of the CoS higher-ups. All I ask is that we at The ThrowDown, be allowed to tape the interview.
Until that time comes, I plan on putting this whole issue behind me. After over 100 hours of research and phone calls, I need no more proof. And maybe…finally, I won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night, just to hear them say….