Is Hotel California Satanic?


Is Hotel California Satanic?

(It’s About Forgiveness)

The simple answer to the question posed in the title of this piece is this:

Not any more or less satanic than you are.

If you are interested in hearing why I say that, read on…

I have been musing a lot about the Eagles and Hotel California over the past month, and that’s what has brought me to actually write this right now.  Yet the song is so pervasive and has such a lasting impact on the psyche that I am also never not thinking about it on some level.  It’s just that things have finally come to a head.

It all started with watching the Eagles documentary, History of the Eagles, on Netflix with my fraternal twin brother.  Really good documentary btw if you haven’t seen it yet, very well done, worth 3 hours of your time.    And in all of those 3 hours, there was just one thing that really stood out for both me and my bro and which we discussed at some length and that was the whole Don Felder thing.

Quick summary: Don Felder actually wrote most of the guitar parts for Hotel California while relaxing at a beach rental home on Malibu one day in 1976.  He recorded it along with some other songs onto a mix tape which he then sent to Don Henley and Glenn Frey for possible use on their next album.  Henley and Frey right away saw the potential in the track of what was to be Hotel California, and they interestingly called it “Mexican Reggae” because it has a Spanish guitar sound and Felder apparently mixed in a reggae drum beat with it.

So the point is that Felder actually wrote a good portion of what most feel to be the Eagles greatest song, their swan song you might say, not to mention one of the greatest rock songs ever, definitely up there with Stairway to Heaven and with a similar theme (getting to that).  To make a long, involved story shorter, after much bickering to the point of almost even physical fighting, Don Felder ended up being fired from the Eagles in 2000, apparently for asking Henley and Frey for more money than they felt he was entitled to.  The implication was that he was being selfish, not a team player.  Fair enough, and we will consider all of this a little further on in this piece.  But for now, what my bro and I felt was interesting was that Felder was included in the documentary with not a few clips of him being interviewed about the band’s history.  He came across very well, I felt, and there was a moment at the end when he began to cry in reminiscing about the band and what happened to him, and while some might see that as phony or whatever, I didn’t see it that way.

So that’s some back story on where I’m going with all of this, now let’s talk about the song itself, particularly its ominous sound and lyrics

Listening to Hotel as a kid, I had no idea what it was about, but it scared the shit out of me.  You, too?  It’s dark ambiance is a given, but then is so much of the “Satanic Rock” of the Seventies has that .  So I was not at all surprised to discover that when played backwards (see backmasking) it seems to have satanic messages, not to mention that when played forwards it could be read in a satanic way.  But do I really believe that Don Henley, who wrote most or all of the lyrics, consciously planned to write a song praising Satan?  Not at all, but neither do the Christian groups who claim that it is satanic; their view apparently is that Satan uses rock artists like Henley to hold unknowing and mentally malleable mortals under his sway.

Henley’s own explanation of the intention behind the words are this : “It’s about the journey from innocence to experience — that’s all.”  This was from the Eagles documentary (see also Henley’s interview with Rolling Stone), but apparently he has also said that the song is also a social commentary on the decadent Southern California lifestyle of the mid-70s, a theme which the Eagles also explored in songs like “Life in the Fast Lane” (also on Hotel California) and which Henley also later explored in his solo career on songs like “The Garden of Allah.”

Others have noted that the song could be the account of a drug trip, partly because it begins with the words “warm smell of colitas rising up through the air,” colitas being a slang term for marijuana, and also the “The Hotel California” could be seen as  code for “THC.”  I do feel this interpretation has validity, especially because the Eagles were all apparently doing pot and cocaine in large quantities in those days.  But again, was it intentional on Don Henley’s part?  Only if he was high when he wrote it!  And he might have been!  Joe Walsh has said that cocaine really helped him write, and I think that Henley or Frey might have said something like that, too, in the documentary.  (Btw, Joe Walsh deserves his own blog entry, but I did want to say that I always assumed Walsh had more of a role in the creation of the music of Hotel California, but really it was almost all Felder, with Walsh adding some licks and finishing touches.)

Also the words “and I was thinkin’ to myself, this could be heaven or this could be hell” at the beginning of the song is actually what any drug trip has the potential to do, to take you to either heaven or hell.  Aldous Huxley wrote about this in his book, Heaven and Hell, which is sometimes as a companion volume to Huxley’s more famous work, The Doors of Perception, which was an account of what he experienced while under the influence of mescaline.

So this “trip” into the Hotel California could be heaven or hell, and it most decidedly turns out to be hell, right?   Listen, I’ve done drugs too in my life, let me come clean here and just admit this, so I can absolutely grok the despair and hopelessness that the protagonist of the song is relating.  Yes, I’ve been to some very dark and tormented places while under the influence, and it has made me question everything more deeply, and hopefully, it has helped me to write something here which can actually be helpful to us all on our inner journeys back to the light.

And so here I would say what scares us about Hotel California is that on some level, we really feel it is true of us — yes, deep down, we feel lost, alone, not able to find our way out of the darkness, trapped.  And that, my friends, is hell.  And when you’re really in it, like when on drugs, it can seem like an eternity.  And yet, it does end, it doesn’t last forever.  Which is why I don’t subscribe to the idea of eternal damnation, because I believe that in each of us there is an eternal spark that will eventually light our way back home.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here…

So just taking this “drug trip” theory of the song’s meaning a bit further, have you ever thought about this: If the guy can’t escape Hotel California (“you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave“), then who’s singing the song?  Or how is he singing it?  Ok, sure, you’re supposed to suspend your disbelief when it comes to art, but in this case, it’s a good question.  So is this guy trapped in some infernal realm, or he’s a ghost, and he’s reporting on what happened to him, and it’s a cautionary tale, trying to warn the rest of us?  etc.

So anyway, one final theory/interpretation of the song is that it’s all about the founding of the Church of Satan by Anton Lavey in 1969, a theory which is apparently given credence by Anton Lavey’s image somehow showing up on the album cover (see picture above).  The especially relevant line in this regard is: “So I called up the captain, please bring me my wine/We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.”  We won’t go into that thing about how wine is not a “spirit,” because clearly the line was meant metaphorically, and I always thought Henley’s intention was to say that hey, weren’t the Sixties our heyday, so liberating, and now we’re lost in the coke-fuelled disco era…Something like that, right?  Like he writes about this particular theme in other songs like The Sad Cafe (made me cry the first time I heard it as a teen) and Boys of Summer.  To state the obvious, in addition to be one of rock’s great lyricists, Henley’s also a great social commentator, just in case you didn’t notice.  He’s maybe one of the best ever in rock and pop music.  So again, did he intentionally plan to write a song advocating the Church of Satan and Anton LaVey?  Of course not!  And to say that the guy in the window of that picture is Anton LaVey, while an interesting theory, is a bit of a stretch, just as are so many of the conspiracy theories out there.

But — and this is a big BUT, people — did Henley’s mind somehow get taken over by Satan and used as channel for a satanic message?  Well, that’s something else, and crazy as this might sound, I do believe there is a distinct possibility in that.  Wait! Before you jump all over me for saying that, ask yourself, why is that so preposterous?

Actually, the phenomenon or possession and channeling is pretty well-documented.  It really happens, people.  One channeled writing that I am particularly fond of and finding useful these days is A Course in Miracles, something which definitely deserves a much fuller treatment than I will give it here (if you’re interested, I do have a blog on it:  A Course in Miracles is a channeled writing, claiming to be the voice of Jesus coming through the mind of a little old lady professor of psychology at Columbia University (her name was Helen Schucman) in the mid-Sixties.  The Course took 7 years to transcribe and was not published until the bicentennial year of 1976, the same year, interestingly, that Hotel California was written and recorded.

The essential message of A Course in Miracles is this: We are all at home in God (Perfect Love), but have somehow forgotten this and believe that we are now separate from God.  In making that separation real, we have essentially made sin, guilt, and fear, bringing that into our “reality.”  In our illusory state of separation, we cannot but think we are sinful because we have made guilt and sin very very real.  We have also made the whole world that we seemingly inhabit very very real, and yet Jesus in the Course is telling us that it is all just a vast illusion that is the creation of an apparent split mind.  And there is but one way out, and that is through the practice of what the Course calls “forgiveness,” yet it is not forgiveness like we generally think of it.

We generally practice forgiveness like this: You did something to hurt me, but I will forgive you even though you wronged me.  The Course teaches that that is not true forgiveness, because it makes “the error real,” meaning it’s coming from a place of victimization.  For the Course, true forgiveness is the remembering that, in fact, God is the only reality and so none of this ever really happened because God could never be part of a world of duality/separation.  So no one did anything to anyone, it’s all made up, and we’ve forgotten that we actually made it up — all of us, as the one Mind that we all share.  And that one mind can do only one of two things: It can choose love (God) or it can choose fear (ego).  In fact, the Course would concur with the idea expressed in Hotel that “we are all just prisoners here of our own device.”  Yes, by our own mental choices, we can and do create hell for ourselves.  Yet we can also choose heaven, too, and for the Course, we do that by practicing forgiveness, which essentially means to lay aside all judgment and accept the idea that “only love is real.”  And in doing that, we can “check out” anytime we like from the whole ego game of separation, and finally leave it behind forever, or for forever.

In the meantime, to the extent that we think we’re here and that our body and the world and our individual existence is very real, is the extent to which we believe in a power (call it “Satan,” if you will, or call it “ego”) that can destroy God.  And that is why I began this piece by saying that Hotel California is not any more or less satanic than you are.  In fact, if you see it as satanic, you can only see that because you have that within yourself.

But the Course says you can re-interpret everything in light of the Holy Spirit, which sees everything through the vision of perfect love and forgiveness.  And in that re-interpretation, I choose to see Hotel California as a vehicle by which we can turn more to the light, to the truth of what we really are, which is only Love.  Yes, sometimes we must look at our fear, at the hell that we have created, in order to know that we want Heaven, not hell.  Yes, sometimes we must be “scared straight” by a “bad” trip or a nightmare or a tormented rock song.  These things serve their purpose, people, and we can see it as serving a lower (satanic) purpose, or a higher (Spirit) purpose.  It’s your choice.  I choose to see it as serving the purpose of bringing us all back to Love.  [To be continued…]

A few good videos to watch on this subject…

Nice one about the different theories of what the song means:

A video that tries to show there are Satanic messages in Hotel when played in reverse (backmasked):

Don Felder interview where he talks about his role in the creation of Hotel California:


This one is for my twin bro: Anton LaVey, turns out, was Jewish:  Oy Vey : )

Also, one New Testament verse that is pointed to by Christians who claim that Satan can take over the minds of unbelievers and use them to do his bidding:  “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”  (2 Corinthians 4:4)


“Question” ~ The Moody Blues


Why do we never get an answer
When we’re knocking at the door
With a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war?

’cause when we stop and look around us
There is nothing that we need.
In a world of persecution that is burning in its greed.

Why do we never get an answer
When we’re knocking at the door?
Because the truth is hard to swallow
That’s what the war of love is for.

It’s not the way that you say it
When you do those things to me.
It’s more the way that you mean it
When you tell me what will be.

And when you stop and think about it
You won’t believe it’s true.
That all the love you’ve been giving
Has all been meant for you.

I’m looking for someone to change my life.
I’m looking for a miracle in my life.
And if you could see what it’s done to me
To lose the love I knew
Could safely lead me through.

Between the silence of the mountains
And the crashing of the sea
There lies a land I once lived in
And she’s waiting there for me.

But in the grey of the morning
My mind becomes confused
Between the dead and the sleeping
And the road that I must choose.

I’m looking for someone to change my life.
I’m looking for a miracle in my life.
And if you could see what it’s done to me
To lose the love I knew
Could safely lead me to
The land that I once knew.
To learn as we grow old
The secrets of our souls.

It’s not the way that you say it
When you do those things to me.
It’s more the way you really mean it
When you tell me what will be.

Why do we never get an answer
When we’re knocking at the door
With a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war?

When we stop and look around us
There is nothing that we need.
In a world of persecution that is burning in its greed.

COMMENTARY:  Please see the Wikipedia Article for more information about this song.  The Wiki article says that originally this song was called “A Question of Balance” and later was shortened to “Question,” which I feel is a better title for it given the lyrics.  The song’s author (Justin Hayward, who also sings it) is posing and answering his own question as to “why do we never get an answer…” to all of life’s innumerable unsettled questions.  The reason is because when the mind becomes “confused” from leaving the memory of love that lies within us, we doubt, we question, and we forget that we already have the answer deep within us.  And when we recognize and accept that there is truly “nothing that we need” — that nothing in this world can truly make us happy or bring us the deep love that we seek — we will stop destroying ourselves and it.

From a songwriting perspective, the “balance” of the fast-paced and the slow part of the song works very well.  Hayward apparently took two unfinished songs and merged them together, something that aspiring songwriters out there might well note.  One other great British songwriter that comes to mind in this regard is Pete Townshend, who was a master at merging the slow and the fast into one harmonious whole, often taking the vocal from Roger Daltrey in the slower-paced sections and singing in his high range, almost falsetto. 

If you are on a spiritual quest, as I have been, you may be interested in exploring my other website, The Great Yoga Quest ( ).  There you will find information and reflections that might also help make sense of things.  


The LA Woman Phenomenon

[Please Note: This is Appendix B of my book, “The Jim Morrison Myth: How a Man Became a God,” which was originally entitled, “Lord Jim: Mythos of a Rock Ikon.”   You can buy the book at :

Also, before you begin reading, take a look at the following pictures and note the parallels between Jim Morrison as “LA Woman,” and Shiva Nataraja…]



“Remember When We Were in Africa?”

The LA Woman Phenomenon


Before I had read much about the Doors and the making of their records, etc., I was convinced that Morrison and the other Doors had planned LA Woman as their swansong.   It almost seemed as if both Morrison and the band knew that this was Morrison and the band’s final fling together, and soon their beloved band/ring leader would be gone for good.  There are just too many hints to Jim’s grand unraveling, and even a sense that he was on his way to Africa.  Like I said, it almost seemed as if he and the band were conspiring together and leaving some clues here and there on the last record.

The album is a blues record disguised as a rock and roll album.  While only half of the ten songs are pure blues, almost all of the other songs are based on a blues progression of sorts.  For instance, Riders on the Storm and Love Her Madly use a blues progression and incorporates jazz elements (it is not that Bo Diddley covers the latter song on Stoned Immaculate); Hyacinth House repeats the first line of each verse twice as per the blues; even LA Woman, for all its jazz-inspired elements has Morrison sounding like an old blues master.  All of this is not so strange as the Doors, like so many of the rock artists in the sixties, had been heavily influenced by African-American music.  But even more than this, the Doors had been planning to do a blues album, and Morrison apparently didn’t want to do anything but blues at that point.  Already on the Doors record prior to this one, Morrison Hotel, for which Morrison wrote most of the lyrics and the music, one can detect a movement toward the blues; the record ends with “Maggie M’gill,” a blues number which ends with Morrison singing:

I’m an old blues man

And I think that you understand

I’ve been singing the blues

Ever since the world began

Now it hardly needs saying that the blues was brought to this country by the slaves who were inhumanly taken from their homes in Africa.  Morrison knew this and probably thought of Africa as not only the birthplace of the blues, but of humanity.  Some early indications of his thinking include the enigmatic line at the end of “Wild Child” (on the Soft Parade) in which Morrison says, “Remember When We Were in Africa?”  This one sentence does as much for the Morrison mythology as that other famous spoken line, “I am the Lizard King, I can do anything” at the end of “Not to Touch the Earth” (part of “Celebration of the Lizard” on Absolutely Live).  The line about Africa now only fuels the fire of those who want to believe that Morrison somehow escaped death and stardom and is now living somewhere on that continent.

There are some who don’t make so much of the “Remember when we were in Africa?” line. Linda Ashcroft, who is the daughter of Morrocan immigrants, says that the song “Wild Child” was based on a poem that Jim had written for her and that when asked about the line at the end, Jim apparently told her that he was referring not to our collective human origins (the Leakeys), but much more narrowly to some pictures of Ashcroft’s North African family that she had shown Morrison.  But if Morrison really said this, it seems to me that must have been up to his old trickster self.  No doubt the line also referred to the time spent looking at the pictures with Ashcroft, but it seems highly unlikely that Morrison was not also referring to our “wild,” primitive origins.  And for that matter, “Wild Child” is not just about Ashcroft — it is far more archetypal than that, both of the sixties Flower Child and of the divine Dionysian ecstatic child of the forest, screaming wild.

Morrison revisits the Africa theme on the last album, both implicitly (by singing the blues like an old master) and explicitly on a fascinatingly beautiful partly spoken-word blues, The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat).  The song gives many indications that Morrison was deeply longing for an end to stardom and a final release into that pure land of light and bliss that Africa symbolized:

The negroes in the forest, brightly feathered

And they are saying, forget the night

Come live with us in forests of azure

Out here on the perimeter there are no stars

Out here we is stoned, immaculate

The song is also a fond and touching farewell to his friends, the other three Doors (as well as his other close friends, no doubt):

I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft

We have built pyramids in honor of our escaping.

Pyramids, indeed.  If you will bear with this exegesis, it is not only Morrison who is escaping, it is his friends, the other Doors, and whoever else cares to come along.  But it is a thin raft – not too many people will follow:

But you’ll never follow me

From where are they escaping?  America, which is Egypt — the biblical House of Bondage:

This is the land where the pharaohs died

Whither are they headed?   Down South, to Africa proper:

Wow, I’m sick of doubt

Live in the light of certain



He went down south and crossed the border

left the chaos and disorder

back there over his shoulder

If Egypt stands for America, Africa is thus also Latin America (L’America), a symbol of freedom (especially in the sixties, where hippies fled to escape the law – listen to “Hey Joe”).  But Morrison isn’t only talking about escaping from the American Dream, he is talking about the death of what he calls the “Western Dream” of freedom and progress:

I’ll tell you this…

No eternal reward will forgive us now

For wasting the dawn

As I mentioned, “The WASP” is only the most explicit expression of Morrison’s longing to get “Back to Africa.”  In fact, from the very first song, “The Changeling,” a hard-driving, blues-inspired rant which has Morrison grunting and screaming as good as James Brown, Morrison begins to reveal his personal “End Time” mythology, telling us he’s about to bust out and get loose (he used the blues format to tell us he had to “rock ‘n’ roll”):

I live uptown

I live downtown

I live all around

I had money

I had none

I had money

I had none

But I never been so broke

that I couldn’t leave town

I’m a changeling

See me change

The song could mean a lot of things.  One interpretation that I would suggest is that Morrison is saying he is free — he is not bound by money or by conventional societal stratification or success — and thus he can change at will.  But money in particular seems to have been for him the epitome of all that was antithetical to freedom and change, and being free desire for money meant freeing the soul:

I want to tell you people about something I know –

Money beats soul every time, come on!

He’d been “broken” to a certain degree by a system which values money (and stardom and power) over “soul,” but in “The Changeling” he is declaring that he’s not completely broke and can get out when the time comes.  And the time had come.  The song ends with Morrison somewhat eerily chanting:

I’m leaving town

On a midnight train

Gonna see me change

Change, Change, Chaaaange!

According to conventional standards, Morrison’s contempt for wealth and power seem inane if not crazy, but again, there was a method to his madness:

I am not mad

I am interested in freedom

In another song on the first side of the album, “Been Down So Long,” which is more of a pure blues, Morrison again sings that it’s time to get up and get away:

I been down so goddamn long

That it feels like up to me

I been down so very damn long

That it feels like up to me

Why don’t one of you people

Come here and set me free?

One might say that Morrison wrote the last line with his audience in mind, still thinking that he and the other Doors would perform their new record live (and in fact they did, but only two shows).   On the other hand, it could be argued that the fact that the song’s title is taken from that of Richard Farina’s first and only novel, he having died in a motorcycle crash two days after it was published at the age of 3??, is another hint that Morrison was also headed in the same direction.  In any case, I think the song gives more indication that Morrison was longing for a change.

Another song on the first side with much clearer intent is Hyacinth House.

On the first album, The Doors, Morrison had sung:

This is the End

Beautiful friend

This is the End

My only friend,

the End

On the second album:

When the music’s over

Turns out the lights…

For the music is your special friend

Dance on fire as it intends

Music is your only friend


the End

On the fourth album, the Soft Parade:

Coda Queen

Now be my bride

Now on the last album:

And I’ll say it again

I need a brand new friend

The End

As I noted, Morrison had mentioned to some of his friends that he was going to split L.A. and go live in Africa incognito.  In order to pull it off he was going to change his name and he came up with Mr. Mojo Risin’ as a perfect anagram for “Jim Morrison.”  In the middle of the title track of “L.A. Woman” Morrison reveals his new alias:

Mr. Mojo Risin’

Mr. Mojo Risin’

Got to keep on Risin’

Risin’ Risin’

[also sounds like “ridin’” and “writin’]

I think some people fail to see the irony in this, as with many of Jim’s poems and lyrics.  If he really was serious about using “Mr. Mojo Risin’” as an alias, would he really be so foolish as to tell the world about it?  It seems to me he was just having fun, adding yet another element to his personal mythology, laughing at the people who were eating it up, salt-less.

On the other hand, how prophetic this all was!  For the three decades since his passing on, Morrison has certainly kept on risin’, both literally (all of the Morrison sightings, etc.) and figuratively in the minds and hearts of those who attentively listen to the Doors music and read the vast and growing literature on the band.  Morrison sang “Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection,” but there appear to be many out there (including myself) who haven’t cancelled their’s.


Riders on the Storm – most likely from Hart Crane’s poem “Praise For An Urn” – “Delicate riders of the storm” (see Fowlie, p. 91)

“Our life will never end”

Sowing the Seeds of Love


High time we made a stand & shook up the views of the common man

And the love train rides from coast to coast

DJ’s the man we love the most
Could you be, could you be squeaky clean
And smash any hope of democracy
As the headline says you’re free to choose
There’s egg on your face and mud on your shoes
One of these days they’re gonna call it the blues, yeah yeah

(Sowing the seeds of love) anything is possible
(Seeds of love) when you’re sowing the seeds of love
(Sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love) anything is possible
(Seeds of love) sowing the seeds of love (Sowing the seeds)

I spy tears in their eyes
They look to the skies for some kind of divine intervention
Food goes to waste, so nice to eat, so nice to taste
Politician Granny with your high ideals
Have you no idea how the majority feels
So without love and a promised land
We’re fools to the rules of a government plan
Kick out the style, bring back the jam

(Sowing the seeds of love) anything (seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love) (Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love)
Sowing the seeds, the birds and the bees, my girlfriend and me in love

Feel the pain, talk about it, if you’re a worried man then shout about it
Open hearts, feel about it, open minds, think about it
Everyone read about it, everyone scream about it
Everyone (everyone, yeah yeah)
Everyone (everyone) read about it, read about it
Read it in the books in the crannies
And the nooks there are books to read…Chorus!!!

(Sowing the seeds of love) Oh, the seeds of love
We’re sowing the seeds, sowing the seeds

We’re sowing the seeds of love. we’re sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love, we’re sowing the seeds of love
(Mr. England sowing the seeds of love)

(Time to eat all your words, swallow your pride, open your eyes)
Time to eat all your words, swallow your pride, open your eyes
High time we made a stand (time to eat all your words)
And shook up the views of the common man (swallow your pride)
And the love train rides from coast to coast (open your eyes)
Every minute of every hour “I Love a Sunflower” (open your eyes)
And I believe in love power (open your eyes)
Love power, love (open your eyes) power


(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love…Sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love)
We’re sowing the seeds (sowing the seeds of love)
Sowing the seeds of love, we’re sowing the seeds (seeds of love)
Sowing the seeds, an end to need, and the politics of greed with love
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love, sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love) anything (seeds of love) anything
(Sowing the seeds of love, Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds, an end to need, and the politics of greed with love)
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love, sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love, sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love, sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love)

wikipedia articles:




        Tears for Fears were one of the better groups of the ’80s, and “Sowing the Seeds of Love” was definitely one of the better and more memorable songs.  Back then I (and others) thought less of it because it seemed like such a Beatles knock-off (particularly Lennon-esque at the end there), but I can certainly appreciate it, and the video, much more now.   It’s quite a brilliant piece of work, I think we all will agree on this point at this point.

          So what’s this song saying, if anything?  It seems to be extolling music, for one, and through music (and via the medium of radio — the “love train” that rides from “coast to coast” is radio, and “DJ’s the one we love the most”) the band is “sowing the seeds of love,” and each song on their LP “The Seeds of Love,” is a seed.  I think that’s the message in a nutshell (in seed form).  And perhaps music has been one of the greatest catalyzers of open hearts and minds — and so have books (find them in the nooks and crannies — of the heart, of the earth, where the seeds of new life is, where the flowers grow), of course, but mostly music — that’s the key.   There’s a sense in which you might say, “Yes, but here we are two decades later, and what’s really changed?  Did this little song make any kind of difference?”  

          Well, I guess it would have had more of an effect if everyone and his brother didn’t want to rule the fookin’ world ; ) .   No, seriously — I’m serious.   The only way to Love is via changing your own heart and mind — or perhaps better put: Tuning into the Love Frequency.  It’s something that each individual (and his brother) has to do.  Don’t look to the skies for some kind of divine intervention — intervene within.

        But even so, “We’re fools to the rules of a government plan” — and at this point the “government plan” in question seems to be more “Shadow Government” (the “Illuminati”) than any elected government.  Is that what TFF meant?  Maybe, maybe not (although the video does show the Masonic/Illuminati symbol of the All-Seeing Eye atop the Pyramid), but let’s read it that way.  And if we do, and guided by Love, we have to stop these poor misguided souls with agendas of malicious intent.

        No worries, though, no problem.  Omnia Vincit Amor — Love Conquers All.  Don’t you know?

         So tune into the Love.  And your Eartheart?  Turn it up.



    “There is enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”  ~ Gandhi




Journey to the Center of Your Heart & Mind (The Amboys vs. the Elevators)

Amazing song, huh?  That’s a young Ted Nugent playing guitar there.

Here are the lyrics of said song:


 Amboy Dukes The – Journey To The Center Of The Mind 

Leave your cares behind
Come with us and find
The pleasures of a journey to the center of the mind      

Come along if you care
Come along if you dare
Take a ride to the land inside of your mind
Beyond the seas of thought
Beyond the realm of what
Across the streams of hopes and dreams 
Where things are really not

But please realize
Youll probably be surprised
For it’s the land unknown to man
Where fantasy is fact
So if you can, please understand
You might not come back


How happy life could be
If all of mankind
Would take the time to journey to the center of the mind
Would take the time to journey to the center of the mind
Center of the mind


      So, you know what this song is talking about, right?  Pretty clear, no, at this late date?  Funny, thing, when I heard this song in the early 80s (on Philly stations WYSP and WMMR), I had no idea what it was about.  I liked the song, but it sounded like it was just a cool science fiction/fantasy piece.  I heard it enough times back then to not forget it, so they must have played it quite a bit.  

       Anyway, what’s even funnier is that Ted Nugent himself claims he also had no idea what the song was about (!)   Here’s a brief excerpt from an interview done by Allan Vorda with him:

           ” Do you want to know the most amazing thing in the world? When we put out Journey to the Center of the Mind in 1968 it had that pipe collection on the front cover and I didn’t have the faintest idea what those pipes were all about! Everybody else was getting stoned and trying every drug known to mankind. I was meeting women, playing rock and roll, and meeting girls. I didn’t have the faintest idea about dope. I didn’t know anything about this cosmic inner probe. I thought “Journey to the Center of the Mind” meant look inside yourself, use your head, and move forward in life.”

AV: But you co-wrote the song.     

TN: I wrote the music. He wrote all the lyrics.”

       Well, this in some ways is not so amazing, because many rock songs have “two meanings” (to borrow Zep’s phraseology), and rock star bards past and present notoriously have disguised the true meanings of their songs from both the listening public, but even from their own band members, who are left scratching their heads at their frontman/woman.  Here’s the continuation of this thread in the interview:     

“AV: To set the record straight, for the umpteenth time, you don’t do drugs, do you?

TN: I have never smoked a joint. I have never done a drug in my life. I’m the only human being who can make that statement. I’ve never had a cigarette in my mouth. I don’t drink. I had beers when I was fourteen or fifteen. I `ve never done a drug!

AV: Why not? If you’re at an age when most teenagers are impressionable I can see you trying drugs and saying you don’t like them, but why didn’t you even try drugs?

TN: There were a lot of reasons, but the decision was very easy by the time I was in the Amboy Dukes. I watched incredible musicians fumble, drool, and not be able to tune their instruments. It was easier to say no than to say, “Hey, gosh, that’s for me.” I’ve also seen my fellow musicians die. It was so obvious. The same reason you don’t run across certain highways during peak rush hours. I was first offered drugs by a beatnik in 1958 and he was slobbering. I just made a very simple conclusion early on. The man with a marijuana cigarette comes off as asshole next. Not me. I was therefore able to plunge into the depths of total irresponsibility with my music.  Music over drugs was an easy choice for me.”

        Sounds somewhat reasonable, no? Or, at least it would have sounded reasonable to me
for most of my teens and twenties, when I basically agreed with Nugent’s thesis that dope is for dopes. But I would have to agree with Allan Vorda’s question why didn’t he at least try LSD or mushrooms, or whatever, rather than be so diametrically opposed to these things? Certainly there
was misuse and abuse of drugs at that time (and now), people went crazy, offed themselves, were permanently traumatized, but as the song says,

“How happy life could be
If all of mankind
Would take the time to journey to the center of the mind
Would take the time to journey to the center of the mind
Center of the mind”

while at the same time acknowledging that “you might not come back.” Sure, it’s a risk, but the risk in this case is worth it, and if you think about it, any great achievement requires some degree of risk. Indeed, I might risk the thought that the greater the achievement, the bigger the risk required.
As Ken Kesey said (this is a paraphrase), “Sure, you get bruised, there’s a risk, but the insight you gain from doing these mind-expanding drugs is well-worth it.”

 (BTW, For the entire fascinating interview with Nugent, go to a href=”; for Kesey’s comments:

Now, let’s look at another band, and not just any band, but the one considered to be the first band of the Psychedelic Era, ah yes, you know them well, the 13th Floor Elevators. First, watch this video:

These guys apparently played all of their music (live and on record) on LSD, that was part of their mission. If they’re trippin’ on this video, you’d be hard-pressed to prove it, except maybe for lead singer Roky Erickson’s eyes (!) If you look at the liner notes for the group’s break-out album, it’s a whole Psychedelic manifesto (though brief) explaining how each song really has a deeper meaning than the surface meaning. Here is a most telling quote from the liner notes:

Since Aristotle, man has organized his knowledge vertically in separate and unrelated groups — Science, Religion, Sex, Relaxation, Work etc. The main emphasis in his language, his system of storing knowledge, has been on the identification of objects rather than on the relationships between objects. He is now forced to use his tools of reasoning separately and for one situation at a time. Had man been able to see past this hypnotic way of thinking, to distrust it (as did Einstein), and to resystematize his knowledge so that it would all be related horizontally, he would now enjoy the perfect sanity which comes from being able to deal with his life in its entirety.

Recently, it has become possible for man to chemically alter his mental state and thus alter his point of view (that is, his own basic relation with the outside world which determines how he stores his information). He can restructure his thinking and change his language so that his thoughts bear more relation to his life and his problems, therefore approaching them more sanely.

It is this quest for pure sanity that forms the basis of the songs on this album.

–Quote from the liner notes of The Psychedelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators

It’s a pretty amazing album, very raw and real, and you can see how they must have influenced many of the bigger-name groups at the time like the Doors, Stones, and then later bands like REM.

There’s a new book out on the band, too, which I haven’t read yet, but which I plan to. But my main point is this: Who’s “right,” here? Nugent, or these guys? Well, Nugent obviously has had more success and staying-power, but from what I’ve seen and heard of him, he seems a bit dense. Yeah, it seems like who could have used a little more mind (and heart)-expansion. I can’t say I ever was into his music, either. I recall seeing pictures of him when I was a teen and being pretty freaked out by him for some reason, and though I knew he was this incredible guitarist, I wasn’t drawn to his music in any respect whatsoever. And when I listen to the “Elevators,” I feel like this is what rock music is really all about, namely an agent for inner and outer change. Not merely brilliant, virtuosic playing that separates the artist from the audience; but a message that breaks down the Walls of separation, that says, “I am you, and you are me, and you can do this, too…”

Another version of “You’re Gonna Miss Me”











Moby Grape: OMAHA — An OM AHA (M)OMent


           You don’t have time to read, nor I to write a long post, so I’ll keep this brief.

           Been listening to the Grape.  Like you perhaps, I’d heard about them for a long time before I finally looked them up (on YouTube) and heard “Omaha,” which, like you perhaps, I thought was called “Listen My Friends.”  That inspired me to purchase the “Listen My Friends” best of CD (above).

        To make a long story short, even before I knew much about them, and had just seen a few videos, I 

took an interest in Mr. Spence (or Alexander, or Skip), there seemed something intriguing about him, couldn’t quite put a finger on it..

        Then I started to learn more, and need I go into the biographical details?   In brief, he was a crazy dude — brilliant and crazy, or crazy because of his genius, who knows?   Was it the LSD and other drugs, or was he somehow wired more weirdly than everyone else (Wired for Sound?)  What was it?

       Because Spence was the author of “Omaha,” and what an incredible song!  That’s like a song that I was

always looking for, the song that was always in me, too.   So I’m curious to know more about this Skip guy, you can imagine.  Like: Was he into “Om,” as the title of this suggests?   And not just the title, but the song is one long “AUM/OM” (and you can OM to it real well).  It just tells me that one reason I like psychedelia (or Acid Rock) so much was because it was coming from this deeper, mystical consciousness of actual sound vibration, hearing the AUM sound internally, which is almost certainly where this came from.  

      According to the Yoga Sutra, AUM is connected to Ishvara, or God, and is quite literally the Word/Sound of God, and maybe even the immanent form of God.  It’s often compared to the beginning verse of the Gospel of John: “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”   That would explain why the music of that era is perhaps my most favorite, because it is quite a bit more Cosmic (and so more True, Beautiful, and Good) than other music, which is not so informed.

        So let us have more crazy people like Mr. Spence!  And Listen My Friends: OMAHA.


ps. I love Spence’s other tracks on the Best Of CD, but “Seeing” is another favorite.  Would love to know

what the lyrics are, but no one has posted them on the Web to date.  Anyone know them?



American Pie






(Don McLean”American Pie”; Lou Reed, “Rock and Roll”; Elvis Costello “Radio Radio” — see lyrics below)



        I got into rock music at age 11, the year I started going through puberty.  Before that I basically listened to everything except rock, though I had heard and enjoyed the Pop Rock that was on the Pop stations.  How did I get into it? One of the things that got me into listening to rock was peer pressure: One afternoon a kid on the school bus asked me sneeringly what kind of music I listened to (as if he knew what it would be, I was so homely looking). When I told him innocently that I liked the Little River Band (“Night Owl” was out at that time), he and his buddies had a good, sneering laugh at my expense.  I had also heard kids talking about Rock music and I was curious and wanted to be cool like them, so one day when I got home from school I decided to tune in to one of the Philly rock stations, WMMR or WYSP, the two main ones at the time. 


   At first and for some time after, many of the sounds I heard coming out of my little Sharp radio were jarring and cacophonous to my ears.  It was not very appealing to me, but I kept listening.  It wasn’t long before I had acquired a certain taste for these new sounds and was inspired to pick up an old acoustic with only like four strings that my grandmother had around the house (first song I learned? “I’m Free” from the Who’s Tommy).  I started to become very conversant with the different groups and artists, partly by tuning in while doing homework, partly by reading magazines like “Cream” and anything else I could find.  I was definitely getting hooked.  What had just a short while earlier seemed strange and not a little bit taboo was now feeling a lot more homey.  I had taken a proverbial walk on the wild side, only to find out that once I checked in (to Hotel Kalifornikation?) and checked it out, I could never again check out.  It wasn’t long before I too began to take on that “Pop music sucks” attitude that the kids on the bus had, and of course there was that certain drive to be “cool,” but there was also a genuine fascination with rock music and the artists who made the music — to the point of reverence, of course.  Rock stars were my heroes, replacing my parents.


      Now, would I have said, as Lou Reed has “Jenny” say that “her [my] life was saved by rock and roll”?  I recall hearing Reed’s song at that time and feeling that it was true for me to some extent.  Not that I fully understood the song at that time (and wonder how Jenny would have at “just five years old”), but yes, it resonated with me at some level.   A little later in my teenage years, Reed’s words “two t.v. sets two cadillac cars/ ahhh, hey, ain’t help me nothin’ at all/not at all,” would definitely ring true.  If I had been given a choice between any other mortal, material pleasure and music, I would have chosen music hands down.  I still feel this way.  Music has been my way of connecting with Spirit, with the Divine (the non-material world), though I would not have put it that way until my mid-twenties.  I was just obsessed with it, it was a nearly all-consuming passion.  


      I guess I loved it so much that one summer, after attending music camp for guitar and trumpet, I suddenly decided to put my beautiful black Gibson Les Paul Custom, that for two years I had loved and cherished and played for hours a day, in the closet — for good.  Why?  Many reasons, but it all boils down to: I had to kill it, because I loved it too much.  Too much to not be better at it than I was, too much to not be able to give it more time, too much, basically, to let it and myself down.  Now, for my age, I was pretty good, I was precocious.  I could definitely jam, particularly with 12-bar blues.  For three years I had been emulating all the great guitar gods of the previous generation — Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Page, Townshend, etc., and with a pretty good ear, I was able to pick up a lot just on my own.   And after my first year of just noodling with it, I started taking lessons with a guy at Medley Music, and then in the summer that I put the guitar in the closet, with a teacher at a music camp my twin brother and I had attended. 


          And suddenly it was all over.  


       The guitar went in the closet.  I didn’t play it again for 4 years — until the second semester of my first year in college.  During those four years, I was borderline psychotic, just going through a lot of shit.  I went through periods when I would spurn all things of the flesh, and music perhaps most of all, because I saw it as a sign of weakness.  It wasn’t an intellectual thing, because I was more feeling than thinking at that point.  It was visceral.  There were times when I just hated music, and I hated any weakness in myself, or in others.  Or put another way: The weakness I hated in others was the weakness I hated in myself.  There was a deep part of me that was longing to transcend the world.  I was like the teenage kid in Little Miss Sunshine, only I wasn’t nearly as coherent as that kid is in the movie.  I wasn’t into Nietzsche at that point, though I was a budding philosopher.  There was just so much going on, it would take a coming-of-age tale and then some to do it justice, so I’m not going to try, but just say I was going through some very heavy stuff there.


        There was a part of me, also, a deeper part of me, that loved music so very very much that I wanted to live without it for some time, just so that I could come to it again for the first time with fresh eyes and ears.  People who fast for some time and then break the fast have this experience with food, as does anyone who does any kind of self-denial or ascetic practice.  It’s a seeing something as if for the first time, like the now proverbial “stranger in a strange land.”   I had realized early on that too much of any material pleasure, music included, kills the music, deadens the spirit.  Or rather, it can.  For me it did.  And returning to music and the guitar — fully embracing them again when I was 19 — was in so many ways worth the wait.  


        I’m not finished, of course, but that’s already a long-winded way of saying that yes, music, and rock music in particular, did save this mortal soul, as they have that of many a fragile youth (I read Don Mclean’s question in “American Pie” was rhetorical).  Which is really why I’m writing all of this.  I’m an adult now, nearly 40 years of age in earth years, but I really feel the desire to give back and pay homage to the music that in many ways helped me to heal, and also led me to inquire and to research certain things that, if I hadn’t looked into them, I would be still lost in illusion and searching in a lot of ways.  And I hope that these words reach you, whoever you are, you who feel confused, lost, struggling to discover who you are and your place in this vast universe, and I say this without any guile.  I know from personal experience how hard it is when you’re growing up, and especially if you are sensitive and don’t feel like you completely fit in. 


         [Note: The night after I was working on this little piece, I watched the clip of Elvis Costello singing “Radio” on Saturday Night Live.  It’s an interesting thing he does: He starts singing another song, and then tells his band to stop and says, “There’s no reason why we need to sing this song on this show.”  Then he lauches into “Radio Radio,” which is a jab at the music biz.  I’ve noted that many rock musicians have tended to eschew radio (listen to REM’s “Radio Song,” Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ” etc.), but then you have songs like Lou Reed’s which kind of glorify it – or at least glorify the music for which it is the messenger/medium.  I have mixed feelings about radio, too, but there are so many choices these days, it hardly seems to matter anymore.  In general, though, I would just affirm that some of the best music is not played on the mainstream stations.]





 American Pie (Don Mclean)

A long, long time ago…I can still rememberHow that music used to make me smile.And I knew if I had my chanceThat I could make those people danceAnd, maybe, they’d be happy for a while.But february made me shiverWith every paper I’d deliver.Bad news on the doorstep;I couldn’t take one more step.I can’t remember if I criedWhen I read about his widowed bride,But something touched me deep insideThe day the music died.So bye-bye, miss american pie.Drove my chevy to the levee,But the levee was dry.And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and ryeSingin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.”this’ll be the day that I die.”Did you write the book of love,And do you have faith in God above,If the Bible tells you so? Do you believe in rock ’n roll,Can music save your mortal soul,And can you teach me how to dance real slow? Well, I know that you’re in love with him`cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym.You both kicked off your shoes.Man, I dig those rhythm and blues.I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buckWith a pink carnation and a pickup truck,But I knew I was out of luckThe day the music died.I started singin’,”bye-bye, miss american pie.”Drove my chevy to the levee,But the levee was dry.Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and ryeAnd singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.”this’ll be the day that I die.”Now for ten years we’ve been on our ownAnd moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone,But that’s not how it used to be.When the jester sang for the king and queen,In a coat he borrowed from james deanAnd a voice that came from you and me,Oh, and while the king was looking down,The jester stole his thorny crown.The courtroom was adjourned;No verdict was returned.And while lennon read a book of marx,The quartet practiced in the park,And we sang dirges in the darkThe day the music died.We were singing,”bye-bye, miss american pie.”Drove my chevy to the levee,But the levee was dry.Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and ryeAnd singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.”this’ll be the day that I die.”Helter skelter in a summer swelter.The birds flew off with a fallout shelter,Eight miles high and falling fast.It landed foul on the grass.The players tried for a forward pass,With the jester on the sidelines in a cast.Now the half-time air was sweet perfumeWhile the sergeants played a marching tune.We all got up to dance,Oh, but we never got the chance!`cause the players tried to take the field;The marching band refused to yield.Do you recall what was revealedThe day the music died? We started singing,”bye-bye, miss american pie.”Drove my chevy to the levee,But the levee was dry.Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and ryeAnd singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.”this’ll be the day that I die.”Oh, and there we were all in one place,A generation lost in spaceWith no time left to start again.So come on: jack be nimble, jack be quick!Jack flash sat on a candlestickCause fire is the devil’s only friend.Oh, and as I watched him on the stageMy hands were clenched in fists of rage.No angel born in hellCould break that satan’s spell.And as the flames climbed high into the nightTo light the sacrificial rite,I saw satan laughing with delightThe day the music diedHe was singing,”bye-bye, miss american pie.”Drove my chevy to the levee,But the levee was dry.Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and ryeAnd singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.”this’ll be the day that I die.”I met a girl who sang the bluesAnd I asked her for some happy news,But she just smiled and turned away.I went down to the sacred storeWhere I’d heard the music years before,But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.And in the streets: the children screamed,The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.But not a word was spoken;The church bells all were broken.And the three men I admire most:The father, son, and the holy ghost,They caught the last train for the coastThe day the music died.And they were singing,”bye-bye, miss american pie.”Drove my chevy to the levee,But the levee was dry.And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and ryeSingin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.”this’ll be the day that I die.”They were singing,”bye-bye, miss american pie.”Drove my chevy to the levee,But the levee was dry.Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and ryeSingin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.”  

Jenny said, when she was just five years old
You know theres nothin happening at all
Every time she put on the radio
There was nothin goin down at all
Not at all

One fine mornin, she puts on a new york station
And she couldnt believe what she heard at all
She started dancin to that fine-fine-fine-fine music
Ooohhh, her life was saved by rock n roll
Hey baby, rock n roll

Despite all the amputation
You could dance to a rock n roll station
And it was all right
It was all right
Hey babe

Jenny said, when she was just five years old
You know theres nothin happening at all
Two tv sets, two cadillac cars
Ahhh, hey, aint help me nothin at all
Not at all

One fine morning, she heard on a new york station
She couldnt believe what she heard at all
Not at all

Despite the amputation
You could dance to a rock n roll station
It was all right
It was all right
Oh, now here she comes now-now

Jenny said, when she was just five years old
You know theres nothin happening at all
Yeah, every time she put on the radio
There was nothin goin down at all
Not at all

Then one fine morning, she put on a new york station
And she couldnt believe what she heard at all
She started dancing to that fine-fine music
Ahh, her life was saved by rock n roll
Rock n roll

Despite all the amputation
You could dance to the rock n roll station

Its all right, all right
All right, all right
All right, its all right
All right, all right
Baby, baby
Baby, baby, ooohhh

                                  Radio, Radio (Elvis Costello) 

I was tuning in the shine on the light night dial
Doing anything my radio advised
With every one of those late night stations
Playing songs bringing tears to me eyes
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver
When the switch broke cause its old
Theyre saying things that I can hardly believe.
They really think were getting out of control.

Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they dont give you any choice
cause they think that its treason.
So you had better do as you are told.
You better listen to the radio.

I wanna bite the hand that feeds me.
I wanna bite that hand so badly.
I want to make them wish theyd never seen me.

Some of my friends sit around every evening
And they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
And the promise of an early death
You either shut up or get cut up;
They dont wanna hear about it.
Its only inches on the reel-to-reel.
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
Tryin to anaesthetise the way that you feel


Wonderful radio
Marvelous radio
Wonderful radio
Radio, radio…