This song is about a woman who is down on her luck and trying to support herself and her baby by making money as a prostitute. The song explores how a woman who is overlooked and discarded is still very human and complex.
Osborne wrote this with Eric Bazilian, Rob Hyman and Rick Chertoff - the team who produced and played on Cyndi Lauper's first album. Bazilian told Songfacts, "On 'St. Teresa,' Joan was responsible for the lion's share of the lyrics, but we all worked through them very meticulously to make sure they made sense. 'St. Teresa' was one that just poured out of her, that was great. 'Right Hand Man' was a similar thing."
Eric Bazilian said in his Songfacts interview: "'St. Teresa' started its life as Allman Brothers style Blues, based around a sort of organ riff. It lived that way for a while. I think Joan came in with the verse melody and lyrics written around that type of song, and then at some point the mandolin riff came, but I was still playing it over a kind of jazz/waltz/blues. We tried to cut the song that way and we could never really catch a groove on it, and then one day I said, 'Let me play this mandolin to a click track.' I turned on my sampler with a percussion bank in it and was looking for just a shaker or something I could use for the click. My finger ran into the top key, which happens to be that sample that starts the record. I played the mandolin to that. A very unique rhythmic structure was born."
This was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal, but lost to Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know." Morissette also beat out Osborne for Album Of The Year.
This was Osborne's second single. It followed up her hit "One Of Us
," which was written by Bazilian.
Country singer Kathy Mattea covered this on her 2018 album, Pretty Bird.