This was the last song written by Wainwright's mother, folk-singer Kate McGarrigle, prior to her death in 2010. Her daughter recorded it for her Come Home to Mama album. Said Martha: "It's the last song my mother wrote, and of course I also think that she wrote it for me, and for Rufus. We wrote songs together, ever since we were children. As we sing her songs, I think her voice can be heard in ours, literally through our pipes."
McGarrigle's song is about the legend of Proserpina, an ancient Roman goddess whose story of being carried off to the underworld by Pluto, only for him to later agree she could spend nine months of the year with her mother, is the basis of a myth of Springtime. The legend is interpreted as symbolizing the growth and decay of vegetation.
McGarrigle performed the song just once, at her last concert at Royal Albert Hall in December 2009.
Come Home to Mama was recorded at Sean Lennon's studio in New York City. Speaking about the album, Wainwright said: "This record is a culmination of my life experiences so far. Everything changed for me a couple of years ago and this record is a representation of that and a return to the reason I started writing songs." The album title comes from a lyric in this song.
The record was produced by Japanese musician Yuka Honda, who is co-founder and keyboardist of the band Cibo Matto. On working with Honda, Wainwright said: "Making this record was a totally different experience. Yuka's approach was very open. Sometimes I would just demo the song, singing in the closet, which served as the vocal booth, then she would build the track around that. In other instances we would jam with a few musicians and try to get a live take."
The Come Home to Mama album cover features Wainwright appearing nude. She admitted to Jam! Music that her choice of shot was partly down to having downed too many drinks one night. "The photographer (Mark Squires) was doing a book on nudes size 12 to 16 and I didn't necessarily (want) to be in that book but he was set up with his lighting, and he said, 'Do you want to do some nudes?'" she said.
"And I thought, 'Well, you know, I probably won't have this opportunity again.' And then I thought the image was kind of nice. And then I was playing around with a friend of mine, we were working on the cover together, and it was late at night, and I think I' d had a couple of drinks, and we tried something with that. And I thought it was just as good a cover as anything."