A Billboard magazine review suggested that whilst on As Cruel as school Children, frontman Travis McCoy's lyrical "vice of choice" was cocaine, on The Quilt it was women. The report referred to not only this song, but also "Innocent" and "Cookie Jar" on The Quilt as numbers about unfaithfulness in a relationship. McCoy responded by saying that with the exception of "Cookie Jar," the theme of this record has little to nothing to do with infidelity though he admitted that this song can be "misleading," as it refers to his "affair with music."
McCoy explained to Artist Direct why they made this the last track on the album: "Since we put out our first record, it's always been important for us to put emphasis on the album's very last song. When they get through the end of a record, a lot of people will be like, 'Oh, whatever.' We didn't want to do that with any of our records, so there's always been a really strong emphasis on the final song. That's the last impression when somebody listens to your record all the way through—if they even do listen to it all the way through because a lot of kids have ADD [Laughs]. If they get to the end of your record, you want the last impression to be a strong one. That way it leaves them wanting more. We've always taken a lot of time choosing the last song and making sure that it leaves a good impression. 'Coming Clean' is one of my favorite songs. Lyrically and musically, it's like, 'Wow.' The piano is so dark and eerie. We definitely took our time with it."
"(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" was written by Nick Lowe in 1974. The original version with his group Brinsley Schwarz was kind of somber, but Elvis Costello made it a classic with his 1978 uptempo take.