Brian Wilson's bandmate Scott Bennett wrote the lyrics for this song. He told Mojo November 2008 that Wilson's original idea for this number was that it would be about a guy who lives abroad and goes back to his hometown, "but I wanted to make it more existential. To say, 'I checked out of the world for a while and now I'm coming home, and my home is California and it's music and it's being alive.'"
Geffen Records made history on June 27, 1994 when Aerosmith's "Head First" became the first major label song made available for exclusive digital download. Download speeds at the time were so slow it took around 75 minutes to download the track.