Lewis told Billboard magazine that this eight-minute suite is, "actually three different songs that (co-producer and boyfriend) Johnathan Rice and myself wrote together. I happen to be a Barbra Streisand fan, and Barbra Streisand fancies a medley, so we discussed stringing the three songs together."
Lewis expanded on the song's Streisand connection in an interview with The Chicago Tribune September 15, 2008. She explained: "It's an ode to Barbra Streisand and the devil. The first time I heard a medley was on a Barbra Streisand record. My mother had a fantastic record collection. I started writing songs because of it. 'The Next Messiah' was tracked completely live, with all the transitions, and it's the most exciting thing I've ever been involved with in the studio. I wish the rest of the record had been more like that."
The Independent newspaper September 25, 2008 asked Jenny Lewis if the footloose con-man character in this song is in reality her father, who disappeared out of her life after divorcing her mother. The actress/singer replied: "When someone isn't around you create what you imagine your father might be –(quotes song) 'a race-car driver, a four-leaf clover'." Lewis added: "I try to protect myself. I will often go back and change the names."
After the divorce, Lewis' unemployed mother got Jenny some TV acting work when she was still a toddler and at the age of 4 she was the breadwinner of the family. Lewis explained to The Independent that now as a songwriter she writes mostly about her parents, "because I just don't know them very well." She added: "And I'm still trying to understand what happened [with the divorce] and why. It's this blank slate, I can't even remember what happened. But for some reason, these two people are so incredibly strange and funny and beautiful and messed up, that I want to keep writing about them... and maybe figure out who I am in the process."
Lewis father, Eddie Gordon, played the harmonica and bass harp on a couple of tracks on Acid Tongue. She explained to The Independent: "He was ill last year, so we started speaking to one another. There were no hard feelings. He just wasn't around. Every couple of years I'd get a postcard from the road – a picture of him standing next to a giant ice-sculpture of a crab, in Alaska. He was a very mysterious character. But I thought this was the right time to bring him in."