Hotel California. A classic or a nightmare, what do you think?

Hey baby boomers, do you have any idea how many “classic rock” radio stations are in the United States? Wikipedia lists 496 stations using a variation of this nickname. Assuming all are 24-hour broadcasters, that’s 496 X 24 X 60 = 714,240 minutes of airtime per day that these stations have to fill. Let’s say 214.20 minutes is filled with commercials, news and DJ jabber. That leaves about half a million minutes a day for music.

And how do most classic rock radio stations fill that time? They play the Eagles “Hotel California”. And then they play it again.

You can travel anywhere in the country (we just had a great week in Phoenix) and the results will be the same. The ethereal imagery, the guitar duels, the Steely Dan reference, the endless fade, it will all follow you from coast to coast. And you won’t escape it at 30,000 feet, because “Hotel California” is also likely on your airline’s in-flight song menu.

It’s entirely possible that if you stacked a new 45 rpm record for every radio listen over the past 45 years, you’d end up with a stack 4.3 light years high, high enough to reach the star Alpha of the Centaur. And when you get there, an intergalactic radio station will probably play the intro to “Hotel California.”

That’s not to say that some radio stations don’t sometimes get creative. If you listen long enough, you might hear the rare playing of another song from the Hotel California album. “New Kid in Town” often makes the cut. There’s also a saying that every tenth track of “Hotel California” must be the live acoustic version of the “Hell Freezes Over” CD.

So whether you’re in the fast lane, taking things into your own hands, or going to the limit, you can be sure that when you check into Hotel California, you can never leave.


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Nicholas E. Crittendon