Vocalist Ben Gibbard told VH1 News about this track: "Sonically, I was in New York in December after we had finished touring and I found this little Indian drum machine and I wrote a couple songs with it. This was one of them that stuck, and it aesthetically worked for us. I see this song being a little bit of a reaction to everything that had been occurring with us over the last fifteen months. At a certain point you get sick of yourself, as sick of you as you think people are of you."
"Islands in the Stream" was originally written by The Bee Gees as an R&B song. It was originally written by the brothers for Marvin Gaye, however it was recorded instead as a duet by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton with the Gibb Brothers also contributing vocals.
Who writes a song about a name they found in a phone book? That's just one of the everyday things these guys find to sing about. Anything in their field of vision or general scope of knowledge is fair game. If you cross paths with them, so are you.