The Last Resort
California, 1976
 (Don Henley/Glenn Frey)

This song presents a musical critique of United States domestic policies and practices during the 1800's. The Last Resort examines the lasting environmental and social "costs" of the mass migration of people in the United States during the 19th century which came to be known as Westward Expansion.

In a more general sense this song serves as a warning to listeners about the dangers and consequences of unchecked urban development and the importance of ecology and conservation today. Don Henley explained in a 1987 interview, "The Last Resort, on Hotel California, is still one of my favorite songs... That's because I care more about the environment than about writing songs about drugs or love affairs or excesses of any kind. The gist of the song was that when we find something good, we destroy it by our presence - by the very fact that man is the only animal on earth that is capable of destroying his environment. The environment is the reason I got into politics: to try to do something about what I saw as the complete destruction of most of the resources that we have left. We have mortgaged our future for gain and greed."

Henley's concern for the environment moved him to found the Walden Woods Project in 1990 in order to purchase and preserve an area of Walden Woods that was being threatened by development. The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods opened in 1998 and the important work of this organization continues today as described in their mission statement, "The Walden Woods Project preserves the land, literature and legacy of Henry David Thoreau to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility.  The Project achieves this mission through the integration of conservation, education and research."

In 1992, the group Rage Against The Machine released the song Freedom to raise awareness about Native American Activist, Leonard Peltier who was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the deaths of two FBI agents who died during a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Since the trial, questions have been raised regarding prosecution misconduct ( fabricated evidence, falsified testimony ) that resulted in a "denial of justice and due process." Numerous individuals and organizations have made statements of support and written letters requesting a new trial and/or executive clemency including; The Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Robert Redford, Sister Helen Prejean, Nelson Mandela, Harry Belafonte, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Mother Teresa, and Coretta Scott King.

Former Rage Against The Machine member Zack de la Rocha discussed Peltier and the tragic legacy of U.S government policies toward indigenous peoples in a 1995 Rolling Stone  article, "I believe in this band's ability to bridge the gap between entertainment and activism... Leonard Peltier is a political prisoner...but he's much more than that. He symbolizes the continuance of the U.S. genocidal policy that's been perpetrated against the native peoples of this country."


Interview by: Mikal Gilmore "Don Henley," Rolling Stone's 20th Anniversary Issue (Issue 512; Nov. 5/Dec. 10, 1987)

"Walden, Thoreau and the Environment" The Walden Woods Project

"Freedom Video", 1995 Rolling Stone interview/article. Rage Against the Machine Articles/Interviews.

The Case of Leonard Peltier / Native American Political Prisoner

Music and Lyric Resources:

Official Eagles Site

Don Henley Official Site

L & M's Eagles Fastlane

Eagles Official Fan Club

Eagles fan site - Desperado

Rage Against The Machine - Official Site

the pretty incomplete RATM site

Zack de la Rocha Network

Tom Morello Project


Referenced and Related Works:

"Manifest Destiny" ( images and quotes )

The Buffalo Hunters

Trail of Tears

Indian Removal Act of 1830

Worcester v. Georgia, 1832

Winfield Scott's Address to the Cherokee Nation

Wilderness Act of 1964

Thoreau Quotes

Emma Lazarus', "The New Collosus" / The Three Tenor's, "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears"

Rudyard Kipling's, "White Man's Burden"

“Fire on the Mountain” Constructed Response Activity

“Indian Reservation” Constructed Response Activity

“The Last Resort” Constructed Response Activity(s)

“Darkness ( Of Greed )” Constructed Response Activity

Lewis and Clark / “Standing Outside The Fire” Essay Writing Activity

The Buffalo Trust  ( external page )

Samuel's Memory  ( external page )

Quotations - Trail of Tears  ( external page )

Cherokees History - Quotations  ( external page )

Quotes on Wilderness  ( external page )

Walden Woods Project  ( external page)

Leonard Peltier Statements of Support  (external page)

PBS - THE WEST  ( external page )

YouTube – “The Last Resort” (external page)

YouTube – “Freedom” (external page)

YouTube – “Freedom Live” (external page)



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