The title does not appear in the song. Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer came up with it after the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lost in the 2014 MLB playoffs. He recalled in a track-by-track commentary:
"I was watching the Angels lose a couple of years ago when they got taken out of the playoffs and that was a working title that stuck because it sort of made sense with the lyric. That was a song that just kind of happened, I think, as simple as that. I was watching TV and sort of watching that happen and took it into the band. And I think the day before I showed it to them, or around the same time, we had done what became the end of that song, just born out of a jam. And I'm sort of the fierce archivist in the band and I listen to a lot of our rehearsals and I record them myself if we're in a place that doesn't have recording set up. And that particular one was done at Flea's studio and I thought: 'This is a fantastic bass part and this will make a great ending to a song.'"
"I can't remember if I knew that before the rest of the chords were written or if I heard that rehearsal tape after I had those chords and I married them together but, yeah, that song came together pretty easily after that, just because the parts are pretty simple. And the trickiest part was whittling down the end because we could take it on for a long time; it's just so much fun to play."
Anthony Kiedis' lyrics are about his breakup with Australian model Helena Vestergaard. Klinghoffer said: "It was just another one where Anthony came back with an amazing vocal, really fast. At rehearsal the next week, I think, he was singing something that sounded so familiar and so quintessentially Anthony."
The music video was shot in Atlanta and directed by Thoranna "Tota" Sigurdardottir. It follows the Danish actress Klara Kristin enjoying a big night out at a Chili Peppers gig.
David Bowie's "Space Oddity" tells the story of an astronaut who cuts off communication and floats into space. The BBC used it extensively in their coverage of the 1969 moon landing - an odd choice considering the lyrics.
The Prince-penned "Manic Monday" was the first song The Bangles heard coming from a car radio, but "Eternal Flame" is closest to Susanna's heart, perhaps because she sang it in "various states of undress."