The Last Resort (Eagles song)
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"The Last Resort"
Song by Eagles
from the album Hotel California
A-side "Life in the Fast Lane"
Released May 3, 1977
Format vinyl record
Recorded March – October 1976
Genre Soft rock, country rock
Songwriter(s) Glenn Frey, Don Henley
Producer(s) Bill Szymczyk
Hotel California track listing
"New Kid in Town"
"Life in the Fast Lane"
"Wasted Time (Reprise)"
"Victim of Love"
"Pretty Maids All in a Row"
"Try and Love Again"
"The Last Resort"
"The Last Resort" is a song written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, which tells of how man inevitably destroys the places he finds beautiful. It was originally released on the Eagles' album Hotel California on December 8, 1976. It was subsequently released as the B-side of "Life in the Fast Lane" single on May 3, 1977.
In a 1978 interview with Rolling Stone, Henley said: "'The Last Resort', on Hotel California, is still one of my favorite songs… That's because I care more about the environment than about writing songs about drugs or love affairs or excesses of any kind. The gist of the song was that when we find something good, we destroy it by our presence — by the very fact that man is the only animal on earth that is capable of destroying his environment. The environment is the reason I got into politics: to try to do something about what I saw as the complete destruction of most of the resources that we have left. We have mortgaged our future for gain and greed."
On an episode of In the Studio with Redbeard (which devoted an entire episode to the making of Hotel California), Frey stated:
I have to give all the credit for 'The Last Resort' to (Don) Henley. It was the first time that Don, on his own, took it upon himself to write an epic story. We were very much at that time, concerned about the environment and doing anti-nuclear benefit (concerts). It seemed the perfect way to wrap up all of the different topics we had explored on the Hotel California album. Don found himself as a lyricist with that song, kind of outdid himself…We're constantly screwing up paradise and that was the point of the song and that at some point there is going to be no more new frontiers. I mean we're putting junk, er, garbage into space now. There's enough crap floating around the planet that we can't even use so it just seems to be our way. It's unfortunate but that is sort of what happens.
Frey referred to the song as "Henley's opus."
Henley recalled that he had been reading about "the raping and pillaging of the West by mining, timber, oil and cattle interests" at the time he wrote the song. He said that he wanted to expand the song's scope even further, and so he "tried to go 'Michener' with it," but was never totally satisfied with how it came out.
The band recorded "The Last Resort" at the Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida. However, Black Sabbath were also recording Technical Ecstasy in an adjacent studio and played very loudly. The Eagles had to re-record the song a number of times due to the noise coming through the wall from the next studio.
Music critic Dave Thompson considers it an update of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" but says that it is "even more weary and despairing." Thompson regards the line "Some rich men came and raped the land. Nobody caught ‘em" to be a critique of a free market economy. Critic William Ruhlmann said of it that it "sketches a broad, pessimistic history of America that borders on nihilism."Author James Perone says that it ties "all the previous songs together in this final reflection of the dark side of California Life." He notes, for example, how the song lyrics contrast the beauty of the California desert with ugly suburban houses and ultimately progresses to criticize the concept of manifest destiny, on which American expansion to California was partially based. He regards the key lyric to be the line "They called it paradise; I don't know why," noting the emphasis given to it by the resignation of Henley's voice and by the falling melody. Perone does criticize the use of synthesizer on the song instead of actual string instruments, which he feels sounds artificial. To Eagles' biographer Marc Eliot, "The Last Resort" tells "the story of a nation's self-destruction and physical decay told as metaphor for personal creative burnout." In 2016, the editors of Rolling Stone rated "The Last Resort" as the Eagles #27 greatest song.
Don Henley - lead vocals, drums, synthesizer
Glenn Frey - piano, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Joe Walsh - electric guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals
Don Felder - pedal steel guitar, electric guitar, backing vocals
Randy Meisner - bass, backing vocals
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