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Quote from Eagles – Hotel California Lyrics | Genius Lyrics:

And in the master's chambers

They gathered for the feast

I checked the dictionary for chamber, it says:

a room in a house, especially a bedroom

So they gathered in the master's bedrooms for the feast? That doesn't make much sense to me, isn't a feast supposed to take place in one big room gathered with the guests?

Am I missing something? What's the correct interpretation of these lyrics?

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    I think you've detected some of the darkness and poetic meaning of the song. The use of the phrase "master's chambers" suggests the "feast" is not a typical one of food. It could be that "feast" refers to either sex or drug use. The next line is, "they stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill the beast". No one has a meal by descending on an animal and killing it right before eating it. So it might mean they stab their veins with needles made of steel to inject heroin, but that doesn't cure their addiction to heroin and they still want more. Oct 24 at 15:09
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    chambers = private apartments. In the Forbidden City, there are many of these. Right?
    – Lambie
    Oct 24 at 18:39
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    Do you see no difference between "chamber" which might indeed mean one (bed)room and "chambers" which always means more than one room and often includes the entire flat/house/office(s)/whatever premises you're interested in? Oct 24 at 20:33
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    Of course the best answer is a comment. Oct 25 at 20:12
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It means a room in house, often a bedroom but not always.

It suggests a private room. This is about a Hotel, so there are lots of rooms that are rented out, but there are also the master's private rooms. The "master's chambers" means his private rooms in the hotel.

It suggests a party, held in the private part of the hotel, which might include a reception room, a dining room and several bedrooms. Perhaps the dining room for food, but bedrooms for after.

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    He has many private rooms. It is not just his bedroom, so the plural is used. But the choice of words is lyrical not prosaic. You'd not normally talk like that.
    – James K
    Oct 24 at 7:02
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    Note, the song may not literally be about a hotel. A real hotel does not have the quality of being able to check out, but never leave. "Hotel California" could refer to a fictional place that is meant to be a hotel, but it could instead refer to a concept such as a social scene in Los Angeles or something else like that. Oct 24 at 15:14
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    Oh yes, certainly, but "the master's chambers" is part of that extended metaphor.
    – James K
    Oct 24 at 16:01
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    Not just many private rooms, but "chambers", plural, implies a suite of rooms -- several connected rooms, probably with a single entry from the rest of the building. That factors in to the bedroom vs non-bedroom question, because such a suite would be expected to contain some rooms that are not bedrooms. Oct 24 at 16:12
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    @WenfangDu think of "feast" as meaning something more like "party" than "meal". It's a party centered around food. You can easily have a party that takes place in several rooms.
    – fectin
    Oct 24 at 16:33
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‘Chamber’ in general is a historical term for a room. These days it’s a bit dated, and rarely seen outside of creative writings (such as song lyrics or novels) or fixed phrases (the most common one being a judge’s chambers, which refers to their private office and associated legal library). In the plural sense used in this song, it refers to the collection of rooms in a building that are owned by or specifically for usage of a particular individual.

This usage is similar to referring to someone’s apartment in modern English, and usually implies at least a bedroom (sometimes historically called a ‘bedchamber’ or just ‘chamber’) or office/study, possibly both, and may also include any of a number of other rooms (such as a private bathroom, a library, a dining room, a sitting room, historically a smoking room, etc).

In the particular context of the song, if we assume the hotel is not an allegory (it may or may not be), then the ‘master’s chambers’ would be the hotel owner’s private suite, possibly a penthouse (either in the traditional sense or in the more modern ‘suite on the top floor’ sense), but almost certainly given context consisting of multiple rooms, and again almost certainly including a dining room (or possibly banquet hall).

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    Right. Especially, "chambers" in plural is far more often used (albeit in archaic settings) than "chamber", which has a different connotation. Oct 24 at 23:57
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    "prose" is the opposite of "song lyrics". Prose means writing or speech without poetic effects like meter or rhyme. It is the type of writing you see in a novel, or in newspaper. Song lyrics are a form of poetry, not prose.
    – James K
    Oct 25 at 13:16
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    @JamesK Point taken. I’m used to hearing ‘prose’ used as a generic for creative writings (including lyrics and poetry), and often forget that this generic meaning is not universally accepted. Updated now to avoid any confusion regarding this. Oct 25 at 23:28
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You’ve found a verse that’s very open to interpretation. Literally, “the Master’s chambers” would be a suite of rooms where some “master” lives. It’s rare in America, but some hotels do have “masters,” and a Google Books search does find a few inns and hotels (as well as universities) that had “master’s chambers” in the nineteenth century. So the songwriters must have heard of some of those.

One of the many other things that aren’t clear at all is who is gathering, but normally, a large number of people would gather for a feast, which would be held in a large banquet hall. That would not normally be part of a “master’s chambers” in a hotel, but perhaps the celebrants are actually meeting in the master’s chambers (that is, his private hotel suite) before the feast, and proceeding from there to the feast itself, in a different location.

However, the verses before and after make almost no literal sense, so people look for symbolic or allegorical meanings

And she said "We are all just prisoners here,

Of our own device."

And in the master's chambers

They gathered for the feast

They stab it with their steely knives

But they just can't kill the beast

Who are “she,” “they” and “it?” Your guess is as good as mine. Some of the many proposed interpretations include:

  • The song was inspired by a mental hospital run by the Univerity of California, where the patients were allegedly mistreated. The patients were involuntarily committed because of their behavior and are thus “prisoners of their own device.” “The master’s chambers” are surgical theaters, where the medical students gather to watch operations being performed by their instructors, or masters. Doctors stab at the patients’ brains with steel scalpels, but they are unable to cure “the beast” of insanity.
  • There is a coven at the hotel performing a sacrifice to their Master, Satan, in a hidden chamber. “The Beast” is a reference to the book of Revelation.
  • The “Hotel California” is an allegory for the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, where all the people seeking fame are prisoners of their own vanity and ambition. They are dazzled by the patina of glitz and glamor and flock to any powerful man they think can help them get ahead, often by sleeping with him in his bedroom, but never achieve anything.

And many other readings that you can find.

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    If "Life in the Fast Lane" is thematically linked, then probably the third, or it's about drug addiction. Of course this track might not be linked at all, but the lyrics are less ambiguous.
    – nigel222
    Oct 26 at 15:00
  • @nigel222 True! At least, it’s evidence that’s a topic they had on their minds and wrote about.
    – Davislor
    Oct 26 at 22:22
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Well, it's a song lyric, so it doesn't really have to make sense. But let's tease out what little we can.

There's one definition on that Cambridge page that refers to a judge's private office, if "chambers" is plural. In this sense, the term can more generally be used to mean a professional office where privacy is vital. So I'm confident the place where this "feast" happens is one private room.

Beyond that, it's a matter of opinion what the lyrics actually mean. Opinion is out of scope for this website, so I'll stop here.

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    Yes, the judges chamberS is probably one room, but still plural. There are plenty of similar where "chambers" is use to mean a private area which could be one or more actual chambers (rooms). Oct 24 at 22:01
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    @OwenReynolds Right. "The queen's chambers" could refer to an entire wing of the palace.
    – gotube
    Oct 24 at 23:18
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    Right. Plural "chambers" has a different use, even somewhat archaically, than singular "chamber". Oct 24 at 23:57
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So they gathered in the master's bedrooms for the feast? That doesn't make much sense to me,

Yes, that's the reaction that most native speakers have, too. You've chosen a great song, but one that may be difficult for testing your understanding of English — it's intentionally written to be nonsensical and dreamlike.

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

So I called up the Captain,
"Please bring me my wine"
He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine"

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before

The song is full of these quick cuts between nonsense scenes, which make no real sense when interpreted as literal descriptions of events. But it has the same feeling of floating from event to event as a dream, where there's no requirement for a coherent story.

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    The "Mercedes bends"? Isn't it the "Mercedes Benz"? Oct 26 at 8:58
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    @FabiosaysReinstateMonica It's a pun (in the original lyrics). Oct 26 at 12:16
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    @FabiosaysReinstateMonica Yes, it's a pun as user3067860 says. "The bends," also known as decompression sickness, is a medical condition caused by changing pressure too quickly (usually when SCUBA diving). So the Mercedes Benz/bends is both a pun, and possibly a joke about feeling sick from an acute lack of Mercedes. Oct 27 at 16:30

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