This brooding blues-rocker features a spoken-word intro from Refried Ice Cream guitarist Denny Brewer, one of several monologues dotted throughout The People's Key. Bright Eyes leader Conor Oberst met him while recording the Mystic Valley Band's Outer South album in El Paso, Texas. Oberst told Spinner about Brewer's contributions: "That's a friend of mine, this guy named Denny who I met when I was making a record outside of El Paso. He's a really interesting guy. He has a band called Refried Ice Cream, which I highly recommend, and he's just one of those characters I met along the way. When I was writing the songs for this record, I kept thinking about him because I realized a lot of these ideas came from conversations I had with him. I asked if he wouldn't mind committing some of it to tape to be used in the context of the album and he was gracious enough to do that."
"Firewall" is a downtempo, acoustic song with a slow build-up. It addresses themes of modern life with poetic references to dreams, mythology, inventor Nikola Tesla, and drinking.
Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesThe ideas presented by Denny Brewer on this track were not made up by him. Many people believe that a "Serpent Race" once visited here from another planet, and perhaps still does. Some UFO believers and conspiracy writers such as David Icke identify these snake people with the "sons of God" mentioned in Genesis 6 who interbred with human women to have children, the Nephilim. They were said to have taught humanity basic arts and sciences. A lot of ancient mythologies include some version of this idea. The idea that the alien visitors looked reptilian probably comes from India, but traditions about reptilian-looking gods or people appear in mythologies around the world.
Phil Oakey recorded his vocals for "Don't You Want Me" in the studio bathroom. The recording was disrupted by guitarist Jo Callis reaching through an open window from outside to repeatedly flush one of the toilets.