Oberst told the Independent newspaper July 18,2008 that this song is "about infidelity, and acceptance of the way things are."
Oberst told MTV News the story behind this song: "We were on the bus one day and a friend of ours that travels with us and works for the band kind of came out from the back of the bus and said that first line: 'Saw an eagle on a pole... I think it was an eagle.' And then this guy Simon Joyner, who is a great songwriter from Omaha and one of my great friends, he was on tour with us and sitting there and he was like, 'You know, that's a great name for a song.' We kind of had a contest where he wrote a song with that first line, and [then] I did, and a couple of our other friends. We kind of all played them for each other. Simon's is better than mine, but it is a good line to start a song."