This song is about the band's early days in Athens, Georgia, when they would hang around in cafes drinking coffee. Because they didn't work or do anything, their parents teased them, calling them "Deadbeats."
All of the locations mentioned in this song are real-life places in Athens. For instance, Allen's is a burger joint and bar in the Normaltown neighborhood of Athens.
The video was shot on location and featured a cameo by R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, who also came from Athens.
B-52s drummer Keith Strickland wrote the music for this song shortly after B-52s guitarist Ricky Wilson died of AIDS in 1985. His original title was "There Is a River." In a 1990 Spin magazine interview, Strickland said: "In the early days, we all used to sit around like this, just hang out, drink coffee and talk. It was sort of Cafe Society in Athens. It looked like we never worked or did anything, and friends of ours would say, 'Oh, you're such deadbeats.' So we'd joke about ourselves being the deadbeat club. When I played the music for Fred and Kate and Cindy, everybody just started singing about the deadbeat club. That's what the music evoked in them, when in a lot of ways that's what I was thinking when I wrote It. And I didn't tell them that I was thinking a lot about Ricky. They just picked up on it. It was very spontaneous. It's really one of the most autobiographical songs we've ever done."
Cosmic Thing was the B-52s greatest commercial success, selling 4 million copies and propelling them from cult act to international superstars. "Deadbeat Club" was one of a number of songs on the album that harked back to the band's early days in Athens, Georgia. Fred Schneider explained: "When we started writing for that album, we realized that a lot of the songs seemed to hark back to our roots, the time spent in Athens. It was a way to reassert who we were and why we got together in the first place."
Nile Rodgers produced this track. He worked with the band on the song "Cosmic Thing," which was first used on the Earth Girls Are Easy
soundtrack. While he worked on another project, The B-52s started the album with producer Don Was, who did four tracks (including "Love Shack
") before Rodgers took over.