Jeffrey writes, "The song 'Hotel California,' which I have just written about for the hybrid (academia-meets-journalism) periodical Boom: A Journal of California, has garnered legions of fans (and detractors) and taken on a variety of meanings as it has made its way around the globe. Well known in China and India, among other places, it even made a cameo appearance in the American spy plane incident of 2001, when Chinese guards asked members of the U.S. crew of a downed surveillance jet to tell them the words to this well known song from their country."
Perhaps the first to reflect on the curious international fame of the song was Pico Iyer, who is quoted by and interviewed for my essay. In his Video Night in Katmandu, Iyer has a memorable description of hearing that tune and John Denver's "Country Roads" (another that can quality for "global ear-worm status", to borrow a phrase from a tweet about my piece by @mauracunningham ) in Manila in the 1980s. On the site, you will find my comments on what it meant to have "Hotel California" be the first song I ever heard in India, as well as on topics such as how often, despite the dark lyrics the Eagles wrote, it is assumed in Asia to be an upbeat take on the American state so often associated with sunny Hollywood, happy Beach Boys numbers, and Disneyland. BOOM's editor has also peppered the online version with photographs of actual places called "Hotel California" that can be found around the world.
Hotel California [Jeffrey Wasserstrom/Boom]