This is the lead single and title track from New Jersey based rock group The Gaslight Anthem's third studio album.
On the band's previous releases frontman/guitarist and songwriter Brian Fallon famously quoted such influences as Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen. On American Slang the only obvious lift is on this song, where he uses the phrase "cut you to ribbons," which was also featured on 'Here's Looking at You, Kid' from Gaslight Anthem's 2008 album The '59 Sound. "People instantly said, 'You quoted yourself from the last record on the chorus. Is that your thing, quoting yourself?'" Fallon told Spinner UK with some exasperation. "That's totally by accident. If I say the word 'pizza' twice in a week, sometimes it happens, you know?"
Fallon told Spinner UK he was hesitant to use the song title. "You call something American anything you better have something to back that up with," he said. "It's like an English band calling a song English something, you have a big thing to live up to. The song is kind of about my American life, about the things that have happened. They present you this American dream and it's not like this specific thing, you find out you just have to work. You don't step outside and get famous, that's not the way it goes. It's like that anywhere else in the world."