You can leave the Hotel and go back to normal life seemingly unharmed — but it’s still got a hold on you and always will.
(You can take the thug outta the ghetto, put you can never take the ghetto outta the thug….errrr…rocker)
This isn’t only a metaphor – it’s also a pun on the verb “check out.”
In drug culture, to “check out” is to dissociate from reality. If someone is “completely checked-out,” they are so high that they’re not really experiencing the real world anymore. So a drug user who wanted to forget about their real-world troubles might get very high and “check out” for a while.
Of course, the same verb is used to describe the process of leaving a hotel. Thus the pun: You can “check out” (get high and forget about your troubles) anytime you like, but when you come down from your high, you’ll still be in the Hotel (California) – you can never leave!
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