Fogerty wrote this song in the style of an African American spiritual. It's written from the perspective of a slave in the American South, where he's forced to endure hard labor in sweltering heat. Fogerty spent a long time in The South preparing for Blue Moon Swamp, which was his first album since 1986. For the album, he honed his skills on bottleneck guitar and dobro.
The gospel group Fairfield Four backed up Fogerty on this track.
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After finishing the song, Fogerty decided it needed some bottleneck slide and set about for the next year mastering the technique. After feeling like he'd become proficient, however, he decided that the sound he needed wasn't bottleneck, after all, but was instead his old dobro guitar. It took him three more years to feel he'd gotten where he needed to with the dobro. He'd never felt with his guitar playing in general because he hit so much success with CCR that he spent all his time songwriting, rather than "woodshedding" (mastering the instrument). The process of mastery was not only important to him musically, but also personally, and he credited it as an essential part of the healing process he had to go through after all the problems he had with CCR and record executives.
After the semi-disastrous Eye of the Zombie album, which was released amidst all kinds of personal turmoil, Fogerty did some soul searching in Mississippi. During the visit, he was inspired to write "A Hundred and Ten in the Shade" after meeting Pops Staples.
"I mean, I was there," Fogerty said. "I stood there with Pops Staples, I'm wearin' black, it's 110, he's wearin' white cotton - guess who's from the city?"