This slice of bitter angst originated when producer Steve Brown spliced together two early Manic songs "Go Buzz Baby Go"(with which it shares the chord structure and the phrase "Motorcycle Emptiness") and "Behave Yourself Baby." James Dean Bradfield then transformed the hybrid with a guitar figure that came to him in a dream.
Nicky Wire and Richey Edwards' lyrics were inspired by S.E. Hinton's novel about biker gangs, Rumble Fish. They attack the false idols of teen pop culture and the hollowness of the Western consumer lifestyle. "A six minute song about alienation and despair," was how Wire described the song's message to BBC Wales.
Some of the words were taken from the poem Neon Lonliness by Wire's poet brother, Patrick Jones.
An electronic version of the main melody was used by T-Mobile for an advertising campaign in 2003, much to the chagrin of many Manic fans who felt its use conflicted with the song's anti-consumerism message.
The song's video was filmed in Tokyo. Micky Wire recalled to Mojo December 2012: "The scene where we're driving the car - we're actually being towed! Richey was the only one who could drive, but they wouldn't let him. So he's pretending - it's like a Rod Steiger movie from the '50s."
Nicky Wire recalled in Q magazine November 2013: "It's one of the first songs me and Richey wrote together – it had so many different gestations. We were obsessed with writing a cross between Rumble Fish and a Jesus and Mary Chain biker song. We worked quite scratchily trying to piece everything together. It's hard to explain to anyone how good those times were. Some songs just flow but that one shows sometimes you really have to dig in to get something everlasting."