Patty Griffin sings here of finally letting go of her delayed adolescence. She explained to The Daily Telegraph: "I went to work right away when I was 18 when a lot of people in America go to college to hang out and party for four years. I went to work and got married really young so never really had wild adolescent times. So, sometime in my mid-thirties, I thought I would start doing that and then I realised I was getting too old for that and told myself it was time to grow up. It's what 'That Kind of Lonely' is about and it's a song I tweaked for a long time."
Griffin describes the song as occurring at a "kind of warned over party" where she is finally able to stop being a kid and decides to grow up. In the opening lines of the song, she discusses how her heart has turned a corner and every room is in disorder.
While much of the American Kid album is about death and dealing with a loss, this song hits on themes of change and growing up.