This is one of three tracks on American Kid that features Patty Griffin's boyfriend (later her husband) Robert Plant. The Led Zeppelin frontman duets and gets a co-writing credit for rearranging the song. "We get a lot of energy from each other's singing," she noted to Billboard magazine of Plant. "We both have similar places that we come from as singers-a lot of emotion, and sometimes the emotion overrides technique. He inspires me. He goes far and deep."
The song was inspired by the Toni Morrison post-Civil War set novel, Beloved. The book tells the story of Sethe, a former slave living on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio, who is haunted by Beloved, the reincarnation of her dead daughter.
Griffin doesn't make many music videos, but she commissioned one for this song. Directed by Roy Taylor, the clip features scenery made from cut paper which came from history books. Robert Plant also appears with Griffin in the video.
The song went through several transformations before becoming the complete version that fans hear on her album.
"Kickstart My Heart" is about all the ways Motley Crue gets their blood flowing without drugs. It was inspired by their bass player Nikki Sixx, who claimed he had to be revived with a shot of adrenaline to the heart after an overdose.