'They're livin' it up at the Hotel G-A-A '


LockerRoom: It Came to Me When . . . The Stories Behind the Great Songs Number One: Don Henley of The Eagles on the band's signature hit, Hotel G-A-A, writes Tom Humphries.

I wrote this song pretty much as it happened. We were in Dublin, Ireland, on a short flop between gigs, and some of the band got into this heavy kind of scene at a nurses' dance in Barry's Hotel, which back in those days was a pretty cool place to hang, sort of nurses-a-go-go retro hip.

Anyway, the guys got into this thing with a group of kinky radiographers from Tuam, and because I was doing this whole heavy detox thing at the time I allowed myself get separated from them. I knew that whole Tuam thing could turn rough and, anyway, I wanted to check out this place I'd heard about, a hotel where they served only ham sandwiches and tea.

So instead of heading back downtown I headed towards what seemed to be the ghetto area. I was cool with that. I found the place eventually. It was hard to get into. Some of those maor guys back then were real heavy dudes.

On a dark Dublin byway

Cool drizzle in my hair

Warm smell of the canal

Rising up through the air

Up ahead in the distance

I saw a 40-watt light

My head grew heavy, and my sight grew dim

I had to stop for the night.

There he stood in the doorway

A Clones maor I could tell

And I was thinking to myself

This isn't Heaven, this must be Hell

He said 'Have you a reservation'

I have many, but I'd still like to stay

There were voices down the corridor:

'Tell Mr Smartypants to go away'.

Actually, what came to me first was the chorus. We were on the tour bus and the guys were wearing lead aprons and tossing around these X-rays they'd had taken of their asses, and the melody just came to me. I knew straight away if I could get this totally weirded out experience into words we'd have a hit with it. So I started writing the words on the back of a Gateaux Swiss Roll box.

Welcome to the Hotel G-A-A

Such a lovely place

Such a lovely place

(background vocals) Such a lovely face

Plenty of room at the Hotel G-A-A

Any time of year

Any time of year

(background) You can find it here

So long as it's not beer.

I can remember, of course, the hassle with the doorman; he'd served in Clones and I guess he'd seen a lot of very bad things there. I don't hold anything against him, he was just doing his job, keeping people out. He was connected, but I had friends too.

The whole GAA movement back then was made up of committees and it was the same in the hotel. You rang the Room Service Committee if you wanted tea and sandwiches in the room.

His mind is powerful twisted

He says 'I'd better warn ya,

I've got loads of county board boys

That I call mo chairde

I'd say you only played junior

With your long hair and your sweat

You'd be ate in Scotstown

You wouldn't last in Clontibret'.

So I called the Cathaoirleach

Please bring me my wine

He said: 'We haven't sold drink here since Congress zero-five'

And I heard Mick Loftus laughing

from far away

Ask is a mineral alright

Just to hear what he'll say

Welcome to the Hotel G-A-A

Such a lovely place

Such a lovely place

(background) Such a lovely face

They're livin' it up at the Hotel G-A-A

What a nice surprise

What a nice surprise

(background) They don't show Sky

They had theme rooms back then, and they were just getting into this whole thing - which is huge now, of course - where they allowed young couples to do it out on the pitch with the Artane Boys Band playing the appropriate county song. It was a hurling weekend and from across the road you could hear chicks being deflowered to The Rose of Mooncoin.

I remember you had this whole list of things you had to choose from when you checked in. I just wanted to hang out, but it was like, will you be having a tunnel incident while you're here, Sir, will you be using the back door, for this much extra the GAC can ban you for up to six months. I wasn't in the right kind of place in my head for that. You know?

GAC cameras on the ceiling

The ham sandwiches are quite nice

The waiter said 'We are all just pioneers here, of our own device'

And in the Uachtarán's chambers

They gathered for their tea

They stir it with their plastic spoons

And then count the money

Last thing I remember

Was a shemozzle at the door

I thought I would be stretched

But the ref made it a draw

'Relax,' said the doorman

'We are programmed to isolate drinkers

politicians or those connected with

Euro two-thousand-and-eight.

And that was it. I wrote it in five minutes flat, and that night, before a gig in Hackballscross, I played it to Glenn Frey and Glenn didn't rate it. He'd written something on the back of a Major packet about a guy who gets into the whole Tuam/radiographers scene late in life and they don't rate him. Podge Come Lately, the New Kid in Town.

We argued about it and the band split up for a while. I played junior with Iniskeen till we got back together. Just to prove a point for myself.

Not a lot of people know that. I guess it was the beginning of the end.