The Foo Fighters recorded each track for Sonic Highways in a different US city. This over-seven-minute rock ballad was recorded at The Magic Shop in New York City. Bassist Nate Mendel told NME: "Dave (Grohl) took a creative leap on this one and decided to incorporate into his lyrics things that actually happened in the cities, and conversations he had with the various musicians. So 'I Am A River' was inspired by the fact that under one of the studios we found there was an actual physical river."
"Piano Man" was inspired by Billy Joel's time playing at a piano bar in Los Angeles. The "real estate novelist" was a guy who always talked about writing a book, but spent all his spare time in the bar.