This song finds Ward casting himself as a mutinous TV editor. It is one of several songs on A Wasteland Companion that was inspired by dreams. Ward told Spinner, "that came out of a dream of this newscaster whose name was Billy Boroughs. I was just sitting on the couch watching this newscaster and he was saying some frightening things, and it turned into a song."
Eddie Vedder often changes the words when he sings "Yellow Ledbetter." The basic story is about a guy whose brother dies in the first Gulf War. Apparently, bad news in the army is given in yellow envelopes.