Karen Elson is a British model and the wife of multi-talented musician Jack White. A founding member of political cabaret troupe The Citizens Band, in 2003 she contributed backing vocals to a remix of Robert Plant's "Last Time I Saw Her" and the singer/model has also collaborated with Cat Power. Elson began working on solo material after moving to Nashville with White, and this spooky murder ballad is the title track of her debut album, which was produced by White at his Third Man Studios in Nashville.
Elson told BBC 6music regarding working with her husband: "Jack is who Jack is, and I was very nervous to even play him my songs at first. Jack would overhear me over the course of a year and wouldn't tell me. Eventually he said 'play me the songs, we're going into the studio tomorrow.' He's brilliant in the studio and he challenged me. He handed me a guitar, stood me in front of a mic with a bunch of brilliant musicians who I'd known. Jack records all to tape, he doesn't use any sort of gimmickry, so a lot of the takes on the record are live takes. Jack forced me to do it, but it was the best medicine."
Elson told BBC DJ Steve Lamacq on his Radio 2 show about this song. She said: "Actually, the title was a nickname that I had at school. It was one of the nicer nicknames I had for being tall, pale and a little bit haunted, I guess. When I was writing the song I had the music written and 'the ghost who walks' just popped into my head. I thought 'let's turn this into some kind of murder ballad, let's turn it into a very dark tale about a girl who's madly, madly in love with her man and he's taking her out on a romantic drive up to the lake to watch the beautiful spring full moon and as he takes her to the lake he kills her.' When I was writing the song, what I was trying to portray was the idea of love and betrayal and how the girl in 'The Ghost Who Walks,' what she is really haunted by is her heartbreak, it's really nothing else and when people are heartbroken you walk around like a ghost you walk around haunted."