Dave Matthews explained to Billboard magazine why he recorded this rocker with a swampy feel and a New Orleans vibe. Said Matthews: "I love a lot of Country music and I'm a big fan of Woody Guthrie and old American folk music. So I wanted to bring some of that flavor and Louisiana brought it out the whole way. I have a few songs from my past where I talk about my daughter Grace (for example, 'Grace is Gone' from Busted Stuff). I was picking on my guitar and my daughter Stella came up and said, 'Daddy, when are you gonna put me in a song?' So that's why I keep saying that [in 'Alligator Pie']: 'When my Stella cries, 'Daddy when you gonna put me in a song?' That was the only line I had, then we went down to New Orleans and the rest of it came, and it seemed appropriate."
At the beginning of this song a dog can be heard barking. Matthews explained to Billboard: "There's a dog that was at the studio named Oliver that barked every time anyone came in."
Matthews told Relix magazine: "There's banjo all over this record, though it's not as obvious in some places as it is here. But it started on the National guitar." The banjo was played by a friend of the band, Danny Barnes, who has previously played with them on several of their shows. According to his webpage, Barnes is also "a licensed pilot, skateboarder, motorcyclist, flyfisher, unicyclist, trap shooter, and disc golfer."
The bulk of Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King was recorded in New Orleans and the location inspired several tracks, especially this prayer to the Big Easy. Matthews explained to Relix: "Being down in New Orleans made me put it inside a story that I imagined from talking to people down there. Hopefully people will be singing about how this country neglected New Orleans for a long time. Hopefully those songs will start bubbling up, and hopefully that history will tell the story of how criminally negligent we were about that city. It's got this resilience and hospitality and warmth and celebration. But, man, if you go down there and you just look at the bad, there's enough bad there for a lifetime."