Because songwriters worry more about catchy rhymes than deep meaning, song lyrics can be more abstract and esoteric than Jackson Pollock farting chalk dust into a napkin. The problem is that some fans swear that every nonsensical song has some deeper interpretation just waiting to be decoded. That's why so many classic songs have mythical (and often dark and disturbing) alternate meanings that fans insist are true.
They're almost always wrong. For instance ...
5"Hotel California" -- It's About Satanism, Right?
Whether you know "Hotel California" as "that weird Eagles song" or "that weird devil-worshiping song" probably depends on how religious your parents were.
When "Hotel California" was released in 1976, everyone heard it but no one really knew what it meant. The lyrics talked about trying to "Kill the beast" and "Stab it with their steely knives," and included the ominous line, "You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave." Honestly, it kind of sounds like they're singing about using the reference section in a library full of giant monsters, since those are the books you can technically check out but aren't permitted to remove from the building.
"Lookin' it up in the local libraaaary!"
That was when someone noticed something odd about the album cover, which features a picture of the band in some luxury hotel courtyard with crowds of people in the background. Above the crowd, looking out from a balcony on the upper left, is a shape whose face you can't fully see, but vaguely looks bald, goateed and threatening.
It Will Pass
"Hey, sorry everyone, but is the ice machine down there?"
Naturally, people came to the conclusion that the figure on the balcony was none other than Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, author of The Satanic Bible and proud parent of a son that he freaking named Satan.
He even had "Anton + Satan = BFFs" tattooed above his ass.
Now that Anton LaVey was found, the lyrics seemed to make sense: "The Beast," "You can never leave" "This could be heaven or this could be hell." "Hotel California" is a song about Anton LaVey converting people to his church of Satanism, from which they could "never leave." The "truth" about the song persists to this day, found in Internet forums, an old issue of The Milwaukee Sentinel and the nothing-if-not-reputable website Jesus Is Savior.
They're on to your globe-spanning Satanist conspiracy, Eagles.
"Hotel California" has pretty much nothing to do with Satanism. The Eagles have admitted it was a way of speaking out against the greed and hedonism of the music industry in the 1970s (i.e., the drugs, money and women they themselves were drowning in). The photographer responsible for the album cover said the picture expressed "faded loss of innocence and decadence," which is pretentious-speak for "a bunch of assholes standing in a lobby."
"What about the face in the window?" you say. "I heard somewhere they didn't even know it was there. Maybe it wasn't Anton LaVey, but really ... a ghost." Unfortunately not. As Snopes points out:
"The shadowy figure was a woman hired for the photo shoot."
That is kind of a lot of hair for a bald man.
Yep. The person mistaken for a bald, goatee-sporting antichrist was, in fact, just some lady who had nothing to do with anything and wouldn't even have been memorable were it not for the poor lighting of the photograph and the bafflingly deliberate decision to separate her from the rest of the group, presumably because she showed up late for the shoot and/or got Don Henley's name wrong.