Bryan Adams had a certain superstar frontman in mind when recording his vocals for this song. He said during the syndicated radio show InTheStudio: The Stories Behind History's Greatest Rock Bands: "I was thinking about Freddie Mercury. I was thinking about how when Freddie sang he was always so emotive and he was always convincing."
Eddie Vedder often changes the words when he sings "Yellow Ledbetter." The basic story is about a guy whose brother dies in the first Gulf War. Apparently, bad news in the army is given in yellow envelopes.