Though the song can be interpreted as a broad, abstract paean to anti-conformity and independence, the lyrics could more specifically allude to the Vietnam War. The first verse plays with the idiom "stick to your guns," which could easily be literalized with the second verse:
"There's people around who tell you that they know
The places where they send you, and it's easy to go
They'll zip you up and dress you down, stand you in a row
But you know you don't have to
You can just say no"
The Vietnam War was seemingly important to Chilton. In an 2010 obituary for Nashvillescene.com
following Chilton's death, John "Bucky" Wilkin, lead singer and songwriter for '60s surf rock group Ronny & the Daytonas, said: "Vietnam was the war we both related to, more on the level of the Buddhist priests who set themselves on fire in protest than as the American combat soldiers – both of us somehow being able to avoid the draft."