This is the opening track of A Sailor's Guide to Earth, an album written by Sturgill Simpson as a letter to his first child, who arrived during the summer of 2014. The song finds Sturgill talking directly to his son about how he loves him, despite being away at sea. It is the beginning of an extended sailor metaphor that carries on throughout the record.
When Simpson's son was born he began to rethink his place in the music business machinery. "I really questioned whether I wanted to spend however many more years on this bus, not being there and seeing all that was happening," he said. "That's where this record came from, just processing all that guilt and homesickness. I had to figure out a way to put that into music, so I decided to write the whole record from the perspective of a sailor going to sea and not knowing if he's ever coming home."
The idea has deep roots in the Simpson family: "I remembered an old letter that I read, written by my Grandfather Ora to my grandmother when he was in the Army," he recalled. "He was in the South Pacific during World War II, and he thought he was going to die. So he wrote a goodbye letter to her and their newborn son. He finally made it home five years later."
"(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.
The bedrock of David Guetta's Nicki Minaj-featuring single "Hey Mama" is a sample of "Rosie," a 1940s prison recording from folk archivist Alan Lomax that songwriter Esther Dean first showed the French DJ on YouTube.