Anyone who reads this blog knows I travel a lot. Nine countries so far this year, five of them via hitchhiking. It came up the other day – how people often get rooted to a place, how they come to feel trapped in a place, even though – or partly because – they love it. Fine line between rooted and trapped. I don’t have the answer. But since the conversation turned to music, I’ll ramble through a musical tangent.
First and most obviously, we thought of the Eagles song, “Hotel California,” with the title as a thinly veiled metaphor for California itself. When you’re out in the desert looking for relief, it’s a place of glamour and glitz that pulls you in. Lovely women and sweet summer sweat, pretty boys and pink champagne. You think it will satisfy all your desires. When you finally realize that the place “can’t kill the beast” of desire, that it’s a surreal dream with a dark underbelly, it’s too late. You are a prisoner of your own lifestyle, unable to escape.
For a great outlaw country expression of trying to escape that Golden State metropolis, see “L.A. freeway” by Guy Clark, who hung around Austin a lot when I lived and worked in the music clubs there during the Stevie Ray Vaughan era. Jerry Jeff Walker (who would also pop into our Austin music clubs back then) recorded the Guy Clark song HERE on his self-titled album before Clark released it himself.
And now back to the Eagles song. Here’s the last verse.
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
“Relax,” said the night man
“We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave”
Let me arbitrarily use that to segue to this fantastic live version of “Can’t Find My Way Home,” with Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood joining back up on stage, along with some next-generation stars like Derek Trucks, many years after they released the song on the Blind Faith album. At the 10-second mark, when Clapton taps the button with his foot, those of us who have been around a while go on alert for the signature sound of Clapton’s guitar (which comes at the 20-second mark) 😊
So if like Clapton and Winwood you can’t find your way home, if you just can’t shake that “warm smell of colitas” that has befuddled Eagles listeners for decades, just sit back and watch the best ever pop culture appropriation of “Hotel California” in this scene from “The Big Lebowkski”.
Hotel California, The Eagles
L.A. Freeway, Guy Clark
Voodoo Chile, Stevie Ray Vaughan
L.A. Freeway, Jerry Jeff Walker
Can’t Find My Way Home, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood
Hotel California soundtrack scene in The Big Lebowski (dir. Coen Brothers)
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