I've heard a variety of interpretations of Hotel California by The Eagles: the "high life" in Los Angeles, a journey from innocence to experience, greed in the music industry, drug addiction. (Confusingly enough, the band seems to have confirmed several of these interpretations). Regardless of which of these interpretations is "correct," though, I'm particularly interested in the final verse:
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax," said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!
I don't think that this verse is implying that there's some kind of external coercion keeping you in the Hotel California. With that said, why would the narrator be "running for the door" and trying to check out, but suddenly find himself unable to leave? Does this imply that people are unable to change, or merely that they tend to go back to their behavior in spite of their best intentions? Or am I missing the point entirely here?
What would it even mean to check out but not leave?