Eddie Vedder's natural father, Edward Severson III, divorced the future Pearl Jam singer's mother when Eddie was one year old. Vedder's mom soon remarried a man named Peter Mueller and Eddie was raised believing that Mueller was his real father. He met his biological father briefly as a child, but was told that Severson was merely an old friend of his parents. The couple divorced when Vedder was in his late teens and soon afterwards he learned the truth about his parentage. Sadly, Severson died of multiple sclerosis in 1981, before Eddie could see him again. The protagonist on this song snarls:
"Father you're dead and gone and I'm finally free to be me Thanks for all your f--ked up gifts for which I've got no sympathy."
Guitarist Mike McCready commented to Billboard magazine: "Certainly the traits that are handed down by a father that you don't like having would be something that he's singing about."
Vedder previously took on the subject matter of his parentage on the Ten track, "Alive" where he sung about the curse of the strained relationship with his stepfather and the fact that his real father is dead.
In Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere," the title refers to the name of a horse. They took it from a song in the musical Guys And Dolls where a character sings, "I got the horse right here, the name is Paul Revere."