This is the second single from jazz-pop singer-songwriter Rumer's debut album, Seasons of My Soul. The song finds the singer interweaving her relationship with her mother into the tale of a girl seeking solace in Aretha Franklin: "mama, she'd notice but she's always cryin'/ I've got no one to confide in / Aretha, nobody but you."
Rumer was asked by the Nottingham Post to what extent her songs are autobiographical. She replied: "Oh, I think they all are. Sometimes fiction tells a story better than the truth. So a lot of them are stories, but they're stories that are embedded in the truth. 'Aretha,' for example, is a story, but there are loads of true elements in it. And I think it tells a lot of people's stories."
Rumer explained to Digital Spy why she chose to sing about Aretha Franklin: "She's the Queen of Soul! If you're going to write about somebody who embodies the spirit of music itself you go to the top of the list - and there she is! Her voice is probably the closest you get to God. There's an incredible amount of passion and heartbreak in her voice as she's lost a lot of family members. She's just got something in her voice that puts her at the top of the tree and there's no negotiation."
Rumer described the song as a "very American story" in an interview with Mojo magazine. She explained: "Americans want to be emotional, they want to go there. A song like that is saying. 'you can do it, believe in yourself.'"
"(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" was written by Nick Lowe in 1974. The original version with his group Brinsley Schwarz was kind of somber, but Elvis Costello made it a classic with his 1978 uptempo take.