Bragg told The Independent On Sunday that the lyrics were inspired by the everyday frustrations of his relationship with his long-term partner, Juliet. "We've had a great time," he said, "and we have a lovely son, Jack, who's 19, and who's been lucky enough to have had a lovely childhood. But, you know, we have our days when we crack our heads, when I don't live up to her expectations of me and when she doesn't live up to my expectations of her. And this causes domestic friction. But the struggle in a relationship is where the sparks are, and I'm writing about things that frustrate me."
Bragg added that, lyrically he took certain artistic license. "I've never left home like my character in 'Swallow My Pride' has," he said, "but have I gone a few days without speaking [to her] I most certainly have. And have I been on tour and not phoned because I'm pissed off? Yes I have. If I were to suggest otherwise, my son would call me out as a liar."