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Technique

"Hotel California" has seven different sections, two of which are the chorus. The song has lots of rhyming verses, but there is no obvious pattern or rhyme scheme. In the first stanza, for example, the first two verses rhyme ("hair" and "air"), and then the third and fifth verses rhyme, and the fourth verse does not rhyme with anything. The quality of the rhymes ranges from the absurdly simple ("Such a lovely place, / Such a lovely face") to the unexpectedly clever ("The pink champagne on ice / And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'"). On the other hand, you cannot break up verses very easily into "lines," and when you listen to the song, they sound most like couplets, or pairs of two lines.

So, the basic unit of meaning in the song is the couplet: "Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends/She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends."

Looking closer, you can see that each verse in the couplet has two parts – a result of the way the music was written to accommodate pauses in the rhythm.

Finally, "Hotel California" could be considered a ballad, because it tells a story in song-form. The story begins with a man driving down the highway and feeling tired, and it ends when he cannot escape from the hotel where he stopped to rest. Don Henley's songwriting is impeccable in this song, as he manages to create not only a very distinctive setting (this crazy hotel in the middle of the California desert), but he manages to create suspense and completely change the general mood of the song.
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