Manic Street Preacher rhythm guitarist and principal lyric writer Richey Edwards went missing. A few weeks before his disappearance, Edwards gave a ring-bound folder containing the lyrics to 30 or so potential songs to bassist Nicky Wire. Journal For Plague Lovers contains some of these lyrics. The album starts with an audio clip from 2004 Christian Bale thriller The Machinist. Wire explained why to the NME May 16, 2009: "If there was ever a film made of us, Christian Bale is the one person who could play Richey. Maybe Michael Sheen. Both Welsh. Both mental. No, I mean, I just think the script, obviously Richey never saw The Machinist, but I just think it sets the tone."
The NME asked the band about the lyric on this song, "The figure eight inside out is infinity." Vocalist James Dean Bradfield explained: "It stands for the Scalextric of his mind. Racing around, and sometimes crashing, and getting back on…" Wire added: "But he did always go on about, if you remember, he was obsessed with the perfect circle and Van Gogh's figure eight and all that. It was a kind of recurring theme that he never seemed to get to grips with." Bradfield then said: "Drawing the perfect circle's meant to be the test that has sent many an artist into insanity."