In this song the Big and Rich singer addresses the American government bail outs of automobile companies during the 2008-09 recession. He explained to the Detroit Radio station WYCD that the inspiration for this song was the news reports of those who've lost their jobs in the credit crunch. Rich said: "I've been watching the news like everybody else. I'm sitting there, getting madder and madder, watching New York and Washington D.C. sling billions of dollars back and forth to each other while the hard-working people in America are just going, 'What in the world is going on up there?'"
Rich explained to Billboard magazine: "It was written as an outraged American, outraged at the government for giving massive sums of our money to people that misused it. I think when you say, 'His pension plan's been cut in half and he can't afford to die,' that's about as hard-core truth as it gets. People are feeling that way all over. As a tax-paying American I take offense to it. As a country songwriter, I wrote a song about it... and I used Detroit as the emblem for all hard-working Americans."
The Prince-penned "Manic Monday" was the first song The Bangles heard coming from a car radio, but "Eternal Flame" is closest to Susanna's heart, perhaps because she sang it in "various states of undress."