Johnson admitted during an intimate solo acoustic preview performance in New York to writing this delicately strummed track as a joke. He explained that when things go wrong for his wife, such as a broken computer, her excuse is, "Mercury is in retrograde."
Johnson added: "I found myself teasing my wife but end up teasing myself. All my songs are teasing my wife they just happen to turn into love songs."
The lyrics to "Heartbreak Hotel" were written by a steel guitar player who was once a dishwasher repairman. He was inspired by a newspaper story about a man who killed himself and left behind a note saying only, "I walk a lonely street."