R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck contributes to three The King is Dead tracks and on this stripped-back rocker, frontman Colin Meloy tried to musically pay tribute to The Athens band's early work, especially their second album, Reckoning. "I was listening so much to the reissue when it came out last year," he told Spin magazine. "And it opened up for me. I was like 'I want to write a Reckoning song."
Meloy added: "The words may not bear that much resemblance, but I think the melody is very Stipe-ish."
Meloy told Billboard magazine why he asked Peter Buck to contribute to three tracks on The King is Dead: "On a lot of songs I wrote for this record, I was trying to free my mind from more academic music interests I had over the last four or five years and trying to reconnect with some of the music that initially got me playing guitar and writing songs in the first place," he explained. "So I started writing these boldfaced R.E.M. songs, and I thought, 'If we're going to go there, it would be fun to get Peter [Buck] to get onboard,' and he was totally into it."
The song was previously known as "Dirty Fingers."
The song's music video was directed by Michael Schur, who is known for co-creating NBC's The Office. The clip is a dark tribute to David Foster Wallace 1996 novel Infinite Jest, which is a dystopian vision of North America in the near future. "I had this funny idea that a good video for the song would be a re-creation of the Enfield Tennis Academy's round of Eschaton - basically, a global thermonuclear crisis re-created on a tennis court - that's played about a third of the way into the book," Meloy told NPR. "I found a kindred spirit in Michael Schur, a man with an even greater enthusiasm for Wallace's work than my own. With much adoration and respect to this seminal, genius book, this is what we've come up with."