Joe Ely has a strong penchant for character-driven songs that tell an emotional story. "Me and Billy the Kid Never Got Along" is a hallmark example of that, building a narrative entirely imagined on Ely's part around a well-known figure. He explained to Songfacts
that he came up with the idea for the song while visiting a Fort Sumner museum and realizing there were no exhibits on Billy the Kid, who'd always fascinated him. "All the accounts that I'd read of him, you really couldn't tell which account was on the level and which wasn't," Ely explained. "So I decided to make up my own story."