Frontman Gary Lightbody told the Irish public broadcaster RTE about this unusual love song with very dark and a twisted imagery: "The lyric is self-explanatory, a love song, but the arrangement is unusual. It started out with me on guitar and voice and then Jacknife (producer Garret 'Jacknife' Lee) put these weird drums across it which meant sonically we could go places we've never been before. The thwack on the snare in the chorus is made by a giant plant."
Lightbody told The Sun October 17, 2008 that this song was inspired from, "listening to (English dubstep musician) Burial a lot and a lot of electronica in general."
Eddie Vedder often changes the words when he sings "Yellow Ledbetter." The basic story is about a guy whose brother dies in the first Gulf War. Apparently, bad news in the army is given in yellow envelopes.