In an interview with Q magazine June 2009, the interviewer commented that the lyric "Life is just a lonely highway/I'm out here on the open road" was a rock cliché to "almost Spinal Tap proportions." Kravitz replied: "That lyric was not a pastiche, man. It came out of me naturally, just as all my lyrics do. I don't analyze songwriting, I simply write." Kravitz contemplated for a moment, then added: "And anyway, when you are on tour a lot, as I was, life is a lonely highway, and I did get lonely out there on the open road, OK?"
The country-tinged ballad was inspired by Kravitz missing his then-girlfriend while on tour. He told The Guardian he dreamed it while staying at the Royalton hotel in New York and initially called it "The Country Song." He said: "That's the first time that kind of sound came out."
Aside from his romance woes, Kravitz was dealing with the loss of his mother and his difficulties navigating the music industry while making Circus. "My life was all over the place," said. "Your mother leaves the planet, you're dealing with these newfound trappings of fame. I had to change my personality. I'm an open person: unity, peace and love! But people take your kindness for weakness."
Peaking at #10, Circus was Kravitz's first Top 10 album in the US. It fared even better in the UK, where it peaked at #5.