Written by Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde, this song describes the complexities of love from a female perspective - she's inconsistent, but wonderful, and wants her lover to know that he shouldn't get too worked up, because she could change quickly. Hynde put a lot of weather references in the lyrics, implying that her mood reacts in a similar fashion.
This was the last big US hit for The Pretenders. This frustrated Hynde, who remedied the situation by asking the top songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly to write some songs for her. This did the trick, resulting in "I'll Stand By You
Chrissie Hynde wrote the song for tennis star John McEnroe, who was an aspiring musician. "He loved playing guitar," she told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show. "He's a big music person, which is how I knew him, because he used to come to our shows and he was friendly with the band and stuff."
Hynde added that she found inspiration while aboard a plane. "I had in mind that I was going to write this song for him to do. Years later, when I was on British [Airways], I heard an announcement – because I did write some of that song on a plane – and I think I nicked one of the top-line melodies from the overhead announcement: 'Dong-dong-dong-dong … Welcome to British Airways.'"
The music video is based on the spy series The Avengers, which aired in Britain in the '60s and was an influence on the Austin Powers movies. Most of the video is actual footage from the series, which starred Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg, interspersed with shots of Chrissie Hynde as Rigg's character. With their videos, the Pretenders made no attempts to appeal to the core MTV demographic of American teenage boys.