Bill Spooner and Roger Steen of The Tubes wrote this song with Mike Evans. Spooner said of the song: "It's about a bunch of rich kids we knew. You see all those ads on TV about drugs in the ghetto, and they say, 'It's not their fault. They were born poor, and all they had to turn to was drugs. Well, in San Francisco, we know a whole bunch of these kids that are so rich, and they're all strung out, and they're total derelicts. So you don't have to be poor to be a derelict."
was the band's self-titled debut album. They were first produced by rock mogul Al Kooper, and the album was recorded at the legendary Record Plant Studios on 24-track tape. As given in the memoir Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards
, Kooper's first inspiration, upon being assigned to The Tubes by A&M Records, was to produce their first album with the approach of making a soundtrack for a hypothetical Broadway show.
The Tubes started out in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona, originally as two separate bands: The Beans, and The Red, White, And Blues. They both relocated to San Francisco in 1969 and merged. Original lineup: Fee Waybill on vocals, Bill "Sputnik" Spooner on guitar and vocals, Roger Steen on guitar, Prairie Prince on drums, Michael Cotten on synthesizer, Vince Welnick on piano, and Rick Anderson on bass. At times they also had James "Mingo" Lewis on percussion, better known as one of Santana's 13 percussionists.
In "White Punks on Dope," the line "hang myself when I get enough rope" later inspired the album title Give 'Em Enough Rope by The Clash.
The Tubes hired an arranger to come in and write the arrangements, since Kooper was intent on adding strings, horns, and choirs to it. Their choice was Dominic Frontiere, who also scored the TV series The Outer Limits and Sergio Leone's film Hang 'Em High.