This song was inspired by Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot Pope John Paul II four times in an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981. The Kinks were touring in England when it happened, and Ray Davies was inspired to write the song after seeing Agca's picture in the newspaper.
In the story Davies read about Agca, there was a quote from his mother, which gave Ray the idea to take her perspective halfway through the song.
Until December 5, 1998, a song had to be issued as a single to make the Hot 100. Aaliyah's "Try Again" was the first tune to top the chart based on airplay alone, without any sales figures being included.