In the song "Hotel California," what does "colitas" mean?

Just as an addition to the fab info in the article, I want to say that there was an episode of that famous adventure tv show “The Avengers” in 1966, where Steed checks into a hotel, and is not allowed to check out. The “guests” at the hotel, in England, are all too fussy-wussy in that queer English way, not to make any complaints to the management of the hotel, when the management does not allow anyone ever to leave. Steed, the equivalant of James Bond, of course manages to escape and I forgot what happens at the end.
I always thought that that was where they got the idea for the song.

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Cecil’s column can be found on-line at this link:
In the song “Hotel California,” what does “colitas” mean? (15-Aug-1997)

moderator, «Comments on Cecil’s Columns» **

joejoe, I’ll be convinced if you tell me that in the episode of The Avengers the hotel guests kill a steer with their dinner knives.

No, I dont remember a steer, the name was Steed.

Don’t recall this as related to a column, but since I saw it - asking forgiveness from Moderator gods:

[WAG] marijuana flower tops are sometimes called colas, or using the Spanish diminuitive, “colitas”. [/WAG]

Jorge, I recommend that you read the Straight Dope columns written by Cecil Adams. They are chock-full of interesting information.

Reading the column to which a link was provided above, I see that you could have removed the extended vB Code tags [WAG] and [/WAG] from your post. The column says:

Concerning Colitas,

At one place or another, I have seen all of the following suggestions for Colitas.

  1. Marijuana
  2. A desert flower
  3. Something to eat
  4. A little tail
  5. A part of the female anatomy
  6. The smell of sex
  7. Mistaken for colitis

Thank you Cecil ( for digging up the facts on “Colitas”. It certainly appears that Cecil found the original meaning of “Colitas” (Marijuana buds) given the evidence he provides on his site. But please don’t stop with just the root meaning. Hotel California is very symbolic. The lyrics contain many potent metaphors filled with multifaceted meaning. “Warm smell of Colitas” is no exception. I do believe that “the smell of Marijuana” is indeed the surface meaning, but I think it’s only a metaphor for what he really smells.

Before I offer my interpretation of “warm smell of Colitas” let me touch on something else, the meaning of the song. Knowing the meaning of the song helps tremendously in interpreting the meaning of its many mystical phrases. Though I will not at this time give a detailed explanation of what I believe the song is about, allow me to give some enticing direction to those who may be interested in my opinion. The overall surface theme of the song is “Seduction that leads to a bitter end.” The woman is a siren, a femme fatale, a seductress, who lures people to their demise. I am not saying the song is about sexual seduction. I am saying that the song is using the powerful arena of sexual seduction as a metaphor to convey its message. All the phrases, “warm smell of Colitas,” “I heard the mission bell,” “Her mind is Tiffany twisted,” “She’s got the Mercedes bends,” “Sweet summer sweat”, “such a pretty face,” tell us volumes about this woman, and what she is doing.

Having said all that, allow me to offer my rendition of the “warm smell of Colitas.”

  1. Marijuana, Marijuana has many slang names, one of which is “Mary Jane,” The name of a woman.
  2. A desert flower – a metaphor for a beautiful woman (i.e. “a rose among thorns”).
  3. Something to eat – lets just say that the traveler’s “appetite” is being aroused by this smell.
  4. A tail - a derogatory term for a woman considered as a sexual object
    (see an unabridged version of a Random House Dictionary)
  5. A part of the female anatomy – I’ll not comment on this one except to say it does fit into the picture
    along with #3 and #6 and especially when combined with a certain phrase later in the song.
  6. The smell of sex – Close, but allow me to redirect slightly. When a female dog goes into heat, why do all the male dogs in the neighborhood show up? It’s that “Warm smell of Colitas” rising up through the air!
  7. Mistaken for colitis – This may be too much of a stretch for some of you, but here goes anyway. The traveler realizes, “this could be heaven, or this could be hell” and at the end of the song, his worst fears are realized. “Hell” in some mythology (or perhaps in reality) is a place within the “bowels of the earth.” The “warm smell of Colitas” is in truth nothing less than “the arising stench of the inflamed bowels of the earth.” “Colitis” is “misspelled” (as Colitas) because “Hell” will always disguise herself, hiding who she really is in order to deceive her prey. (“such a lovely face”) On the surface, she will always look good, sound good, smell good, taste good, and feel good. But she’ll take you on a ride you will later regret.

So, putting all this together, our traveler smells the warm (nearby) scent of a young beautiful salacious woman.
(That’s why the later phrase, “There she stood in the doorway,” leaves the impression that he was expecting to find her!)

Wow! All that for just one phrase of the song. And many other phrases of the song are just as packed with meaning as this one. So don’t stop with just asking about Colitas! Start all the way back at the beginning of the song. (Even before the lyrics start you can hear an unmistakable warning sound. But don’t get to close because while you’re being mesmerized by the “dancing tail”, the other end of that thing will sink it’s fangs deep within your soul!)

Thanks for allowing me to express my opinion.
The Unveiler

P.S. Prov. 5:08 Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, (NAS)
Prov. 7:27 Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death. (NAS)

In the prelude of the song, before the lyrics ever begin, as chosen melodies commence to establish the eerie atmosphere that will be prevalent through to the end, there in the background is a clear unmistakable warning sound; the shaking of the Rattlesnake’s “Tail.” The Serpent is ready to strike!

  • On a dark desert highway,
    7:7 And I saw among the naive, I discerned among the youths, a young man lacking sense,
    7:8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he takes the way to her house,
    7:9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the middle of the night and {in} the darkness.

    dark(ness) 1. in the dark, lacking knowledge, unenlightened, naive
    2. the domain of evil/wickedness, Satan, the prince of darkness

    desert 1. a dry and barren place, wasteland, wilderness
    spiritual connotation : A place of testing.
    Implication: He’s hungry and thirsty (for …) and he’s about to be tested.

    highway Fast easy travel; (“Life in the Fast Lane.”) Careless living; risk taking.
    “high” way Prov. 9:14 [She sits] On a seat by the high places of the city, …

  • cool wind in my hair,
    cool - refreshing, relaxing, (from the desert heat), enticing
    wind - Both the Hebrew and the Greek words for wind, ruwach and pneuma, respectively, are translated as wind or spirit. (Hebrew and Greek are the primary languages of the Bible.) In light of this, “cool wind” insinuates enticing activity in the spirit realm. Our friend is beginning to succumb to the influence of enticing “winds” as they carry to him the …

  • Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
    See previous post by the Unveiler

  • Up ahead in the distance,
    Temptation rarely begins in a blatant fashion but rather in subtle and seemingly harmless ways. That is, “at a distance,” so as not to frighten off, but to arouse the curiosity of the naive and draw them in.

  • I saw a shimmering light;
    An alluring, mesmerizing, hypnotizing, light. Drawing him in “like a moth to a flame.”

  • My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
    spiritual connotation: He’s being overcome by a state of spiritual stupor.
    “My head grew heavy” His ability to reason and act wisely is waning (the marijuana). “my sight grew dim” Clouded vision. A loss of foresight and discernment set in.

cool wind, warm smell,
shimmering light, mission bell
all of his senses are teased and enticed
as he’s subtly drawn to the test of his life

with narcotic affect, this scent in the air
makes his mind cloudy, his vision impaired.
he’s “hungry” and “thirsty“, in need of a rest.
when there in the distance, the place of request.

  • I had to stop for the night
    He is overcome/overwhelmed by a compulsion to “stop for the night.”

  • There she stood in the doorway;
    Prov. 7:10
    And behold, a woman {comes} to meet him,
    dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart.

Prov. 9:14-16
14 And she sits at the doorway of her house, On a seat by the high places of the city,
15 Calling to those who pass by, who are making their paths straight.
16 “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,” …

The source of the scent stands before him at last,
inviting him in to her house for repast.
(T’will be “Breakfast at Tiffany’s!”)

  • I heard the mission bell
    The mission bell(e) (parenthesis mine)
    belle 1. a woman or girl admired for her beauty and charm (RHD)
    1. the most beautiful, charming, engaging woman, or girl among a number
      (the belle of the ball) (the belle of the hotel) (Hell’s Belle!)

      He hears “the song” of this charming young woman inviting him into her house,

Prov. 7:13-15
13 So she seizes him and kisses him, and with a brazen face she says to him:
14 "I was due to offer peace offerings; today I have paid my vows.
15 "Therefore I have come out to meet you, to seek your presence earnestly,
and I have found you.
mission: 1. A church or “a religious fort” (i.e. Hell)
2. An assignment - “Hell’s” mission is to lure him in.
mission bell: The invitational call announcing that …
The hour of worship has arrived, … He’s drawn to her!
The hour of intimate communion has arrived, … He wants to “commune” with her!
The hour for a union/marriage has arrived, … He wants to be join to her!
The hour for a funeral has arrived, … His own!
The sounding of an alarm, Warning of immanent danger. but also;

To bell:	To bay, as a hunting dog! (RHD)
		What he's really hearing is the cry of a "bitch" on the hunt!

Prov. 6:26
An adulteress hunts for the precious life.

Eccl. 7:26
And I discovered more bitter than death
the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains.
One who is pleasing to God will escape from her,
but the sinner will be captured by her.
But there’s still the sound of another “bell” that he hears.
to bell: To bellow like a stag in rutting time! (RHD)
He’s like a stag in rut and he hears “the mission bell” calling from deep within his being. The call of the wild. The impulse to mate, the urge to merge!
(They don’t call them stag parties for nothing!)
That’s all for now. Is anyone interested in hearing more, let me know!

										The Unveiler

If you haven’t read my previous posts, please do.

  • And I was thinking to myself, “This could be Heaven or this could be Hell.”

…(“This could be Wisdom or this could be Folly.”)

In truth, He knows the answer to this. But he is so caught up in the thrill of the moment, that he doesn’t want his reason to awake him from this dream come true. He would rather believe the deception!

His mind is uncertain, where will this lead?
But he’s hungry and thirsty and driven by need.
He knows that this woman is someone to shun,
but his heart cries, “Seduce me! She must be such fun!”

Prov. 9:18
But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

Prov. 7:23
… so he does not know that it "will cost him his life.

  • Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
    …She illuminates his path, i.e. she offers him “understanding.”

Prov. 9:16
“Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,” and to him who lacks understanding she says, …

Prov. 7:22
Suddenly he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter.

  • There were voices – down the corridor,-- I thought I heard them say…

Is. 5:14
Therefore Sheol has enlarged its – throat – and opened its mouth without measure…

Deeper and deeper in darkness they go
where this will lead he does not rightly know
but then up ahead lovely voices do ring
chanting in mocking deception they sing …

  • Welcome to the Hotel California,

Take a look at the picture on the album cover.
The picture on the album cover along with the eerie melody of the song, suggest an ominous, foreboding, yet strangely alluring place. It may look wonderful on the outside but this picture is a FACADE! (The front of a building is called, the facade.) The back lighting of the windows insinuates an internal inferno! He knows better than to stop here, but his defenses are down and he’s filled with anticipation and curiosity. The fear intended to warn him only heightens the thrill. He must “flirt with the night”; He’s totally unaware he’s running headlong into the snare of a formidable foe.

  • Such a lovely place (echo), such a lovely face (echo)
    face/facade - Outward appearance: Both the woman and her house have such lovely outward appearance, but they are…

[Matt 23:27]
… like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside “are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

  • Plenty of room at the Hotel California,
    Never a . . NO VACANCY . . sign lit up here!
    The place is never full, there’s always room for more!

Prov. 27:20
Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied…

Is. 5:14
Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure…

  • any time of year, you can find it here

If now’s not the time then there’s no need to fear
Whenever your ready, we’ll always be near.

Prov. 7
11 She is boisterous and rebellious; her feet do not remain at home;
12 She is now in the streets, now in the squares, and lurks by every corner.

You don’t want to miss the next post!

The Unveiler

I think you just ruined that song for me forever :eek:

It’s amazing what you can read into good song lyrics. And that’s nothing compared to what you can read into bad song lyrics. :wink:

  • Her mind is Tiffany-twisted,
    What a picture this phrase reveals!

Tiffany – theophany (from late Latin)
A manifestation or appearance of God (in this case, a Goddess.) She a goddess sent from “heaven.” She’s gorgeous, she’s beautiful, A heavenly vision beyond description! Such a lovely face!

6:25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart, nor let her catch you with her eyelids.
5:3 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and smoother than oil is her speech;

a sheer, mesh fabric constructed plain weave, originally made of silk. (RHD)
This woman is dressed FINE!

Tiffany - Charles Lewis
A U.S. jeweler; founder of the famous Tiffany & Co. in New York City,
known for its high class and elegance. (RHD)

She’s adorned with the finest clothing and jewelry money can buy. She’s dressed to the hilt! She’s “dressed to kill!”

Let me stop for just a minute to reveal something else that’s interesting about this woman. Take a look at the gate-fold photo on the inside of the album. (back cover of the CD) Notice the woman up front and slightly to the left. What color is her dress? Notice the “weave” around her neck and down the sides of the dress? And what does she have in her hand?

She is clothed in purple and scarlet, she’s adorned with jewelry (from Tiffany), she has a wine glass in her hand, and her mind, (i.e. across her forehead), “Tiffany-Twisted”. Now read this!

Rev. 17:4-5, (18:12)
4 And the woman was clothed in (fine linen and) purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality,
5 and upon her forehead a name was written,


Coincidence? Hmmm! Back to the lyrics.

demented, perverse, corrupt, with evil intensions

slang: girl, woman; esp.: floozy (RHD)

An attractive young woman of loose morals (a young tail)
A dissolute woman . . . Webster’s (W)

indifferent to moral restraint; given to immoral or improper conduct; licentious; dissipated syn. corrupt, loose, debauched, wanton, abandoned.

Prov. 5:6
She does not ponder the path of life; her ways are unstable, she does not know {it}.

  • she got the Mercedes bends
    (For those who think this word is BENZ, it’s not. The Eagles do not need help with their spelling.
    Yes, the car is Benz, but the album lyrics say bends. Read on and see why!)

Mercedes (Benz):
High class, High Society, High priced: She has the finest of everything. This is no two bit street woman.

bends: (i.e. the bends)
An inference to caissons’ disease. A ‘condition’ developed from careless ‘diving’ practices.

A dive
A sleazy bar, night club or hotel; (A place to get a “drink.”)
An innuendo for a sexual encounter
Stripped of all the facade, Hotel California is nothing but a dive, and so is this woman! She is an intimate acquaintance of Evil and her innumerous “dives” with Him have left her diseased and infectious. And what she’s got isn’t just some little old common garden variety malady, she’s got the “Mercedes Bends.” This is the big one, the costly one. This one will cost you your life!

She’s a heavenly vision with whom none compare
adorned with the finest extravagant ware
but beneath the facade she is vile and corrupt
deceived by her beauty, drink death from her cup!

Prov. 7:23
… so he does not know that it {will cost him} his life.

Rev 2:22
'Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.

  • She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, she calls friends
    She’s got lots of “friends”, - a host, a multitude of lovers. pretty pretty boys - her lovers include the “pretty” people of society; The well to do, the upper class, the elite, the strong, the “princes” and “kings” of the earth. In truth though, this woman is no respecter of persons. She attracts her “friends” from all walks of life.

Rev 17:1
… "Come here, I shall show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.

A useless ornament, a knickknack (RHD)

Pretty-pretty boys
They no longer have value, they’re worthless decoration, victims, conquests. They’re nothing but trophies in her showcase.

Prov. 7:26
For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain.

Prov. 6:26
For on account of a harlot {one is reduced} to a loaf of bread, …

  • How they dance in the courtyard sweet summer sweat
    Each of the “boys” feverishly “dances” in the courtyard until he comes to the “climax” offered by that to which he has been enslaved. (i.e. experiences the high offered by his particular addiction.) But that’s just the boys. Read between the lines and see what she is doing!

Warning! What you are about to read is very sexually graphic. The intent here is not to provide a cheep thrill for adolescent minds, but to explain the lyrics in such a way that the reader can identify the overpowering irresistible lure that ignites our carnal desires as we are pulled into a snare from which there may be no return.

  • How they dance in the courtyard
    courtyard – court yard – The yard were they “court!”

To court – Definitions from RHD
Animal behavior
an area where animals of a particular species gather to display.
the group of insects, as honeybees, surrounding the queen; retinue
(of animals) to attempt to attract (a mate) by engaging in certain species-specific behaviors.
to hold out inducements to; to invite
to seek the affections of; to seek another’s love; to woo
(of animals) to engage in certain species-specific behaviors in order to attract individuals of the opposite sex for mating.

While each of the pretty-pretty boys continues in the preoccupation of his own “dance,” the queen takes front center stage. She now devotes her full attention to the new arrival. She begins courting our wayward traveler, engaging in certain species-specific behaviors in order to attract him for mating.

Dancing before him, inciting delight
pieces of clothing now banished in flight
a masterful craftress invoking desire
revealing such splendor beneath the attire
fanning the flames of unquenchable fire

lips laced with honey and speech smooth as oil
she hasten her prey as the taking of spoil
innocent glances with capturing smiles
beckoning gestures, provokingly wild
twisting and turning till glistening wet
drenched with the dew of a sweet summer sweat

and when fully hazed in the balm of her spell
she offers him potion fermented in Hell.
“Come to my chambers, prepare now to dine.”
“Feast at my table, be filled with my wine.”

22:14 The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit;
He who is cursed of the LORD will fall into it.
7:18 "Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning;
let us delight ourselves with caresses.
9:17 “Stolen water is sweet; and bread {eaten} in secret is pleasant.”
7:21 With her many persuasions she entices him;
with her flattering lips she seduces him.

  • Sweet summer sweat
    sweet – pleasing, exhilarating, satisfying, fulfilling, ecstatic

summer – hot, passionate

secretion of fluid from glands of the skin
causing droplets of moisture to form on the surface.

Wisdom demands discretion concerning further comment here. Suffice it to say, the ways of a harlot are evident. i.e. for the purpose of self promotion and personal gain, the harlot perverts that which is God given in design and function through lewd display in order to snare the carnal mind. Her dance culminates in a display of her readiness for him.

Ezek. 16:23-25
23 "Then it came about after all your wickedness
(‘Woe, woe to you!’ declares the Lord GOD),
24 that you built yourself a shrine and made yourself a high place in every square.
25 “You built yourself a high place at the top of every street,
and made your beauty abominable;
and you spread your legs to every passer-by
to multiply your harlotry.”

Now, one last attempt to bring our traveler to his senses before it’s too late.

    look at the faces of all whom she’s slain
    they’re filled with such anguish, contorted in pain
    some dance to remember some dance to forget
    but all wish they somehow could flee from her net


There’s no turning back now, his mind is made up.
he must surely taste of that wine in her cup.
With heart pounding madly he raises his hand
to call forth the captain to place his demand.

Prov. 17:12
Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.

That’s it for this time, see you next.

The Unveiler

But wait! There’s more!!

Next time, the song is played BACKWARDS!!!

Who knows what mysteries will be revealed…

(cue Twilight Zone music, and special guest appearance by Carlos Castaneda)

emm Unveiler? the song is about drugs and drug addiction. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you want, I could tell you about how “The Cat in the Hat” is really about a childhood loss of innocense and sexual awakening, but it really isn’t. It all depends upon what you want to read into things.
Actually Unveiler, could you do a favour for me? First, explain “American Pie” to me. and when your finished that, start on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Don’t post until your finished. I dare ya!

Many have offered their “No more, no less” to this song, but few have demonstrated a command of the lyrics. I’m not saying mine are the best, but I’m giving it a shot. I for one would be interested in hearing how you have arrived at your conclusion. Aside from that, I don’t disagree with you. The song can be understood to be about drugs and drug addiction. However, there are a great number of people out there who are/have been addicted not to drugs but to other things, and still find themselves identifying with this song. So why limit it to drugs. The Eagles have chosen a “woman” to portray the seduction , so why can’t the song be applied to all types of sexual addictions as well, and more!

The Unveiler

P.S. I have an audio cassette with someone’s explanation of “American Pie,” are you interested?


Are you kidding, Dave? I’m very interested. As is a psychiatrist friend. Or six.

And Cecil, of course, did a column on the meaning of American Pie, too. Don McLean himself wrote Cecil refusing to offer the official interpretation. So, I really gotta hear the unveiler’s version.

Have at it, but start a new thread in this forum, please.

UncleBeer, please join me in my study. We have some issues to discuss. (Pausing to admire the whistling sound my riding crop makes as I slash it through the air.)

Even though this reminds me of some of my more . . . creative . . . papers written for freshman english, I must say I’m looking forward to the next post! Bring it on, Unveiler!

Unveiler, as a songwriter and musician, I have to tell you this:

No one, no one, tries as hard to write deep, obscure meanings into their songs as you seem to think. Really.