Amy wrote this with British producer and composer Paul O'Duffy, who is best known for producing Swing Out Sister's Grammy-nominated multi-platinum debut album, It's Better to Travel and his film score work with John Barry. Amy spent a month in O'Duffy's North London studio working on tracks for what became the Back to Black album. This was the first song recorded during the sessions and the only tune that made it onto the album.
A one-take demo of the song recorded in March 2006 by O'Duffy later appeared on Winehouse's posthumous album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures. Long term Winehouse cohort Saleem Remi, who produced a number of tracks on her first two albums told NME: "Most of Amy's songs started with a guitar and a vocal and a basic beat, if there was any beat at all. So it was really about her being able to express herself lyrically and then find the chords she wanted to use and then get it arranged after."
Eddie Vedder often changes the words when he sings "Yellow Ledbetter." The basic story is about a guy whose brother dies in the first Gulf War. Apparently, bad news in the army is given in yellow envelopes.