This track takes its name from a song written in 1949. Among the many versions recorded were ones by Frankie Laine, (which topped the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart), Vaughn Monroe, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. This is Brian Wilson's interpretation and it was the song's lyrics that inspired him to write the rest of the album. The former Beach Boy explained to The Sun June 19, 2008: "It all spawned from that. I never knew the song but I wanted to hear it. I went and bought Louis Armstrong's version. I played it and learned it and changed the chords round a little bit."
The album was written with band member Scott Bennett and his previous collaborator Van Dyke Parks, who Wilson described to The Sun as one of the "great lyricists."
Brian Wilson said to Mojo magazine November 2008: "I'm fascinated with the lyrics of that song, about this negro slave who has a hell of a time working in the sun. I think it's a very spiritual song."