This is the first single from the Shins Port Of Morrow album, the band's debut release on frontman James Mercer's Aural Apothecary record label. It was also the first offering to be heard from the band following the departure of drummer Jesse Sandoval and keyboardist Marty Crandall.
Mercer explained the song's meaning to Q magazine: "I wrote it on the living room floor of my apartment when my wife and I were newlyweds. This was when we were just starting our little domestic life together, about to have our first daughter. So it was kind of this song about my wife, our relationship and this whole new life we have ahead of us."
The song is also about the journey that The Shins have taken since they started out in the mid-'90s in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mercer told Q: "I'm in a band with guys who are really good people to hang out with. We're all the best of friends and work really well together onstage. I'll admit, 'Simple Song' is in part about Jesse Sandoval and Marty Crandall leaving the band. But I still haven't really dealt with those issues. It's more about coming out of a town like Albuquerque and being in a band with the trajectory like The Shins has had. You go back home and see people have changed."
Janet Weiss from Wild Flag plays drums on this track and Mercer told Q the hard-hitting percussionist, "actually broke a stick in the studio recording it."
The song dates back several years. Mercer penned it during the production of The Shins' 2007 album, Wincing The Night Away.