This is the first TFK song where strings play the musical lead in the verses instead of the guitar, though TFK frontman/songwriter Trevor McNevan commented to New Release Tuesday that it, "is pretty outside the box for us, both musically and vocally, but the essence of it isn't."
McNevan explained the song's meaning to NewReleaseToday: "This song is about someone speaking to their addictions and written from the point of view of me describing it in a dream. When I picture us singing this chorus together, speaking to our addictions, mountains and vices, it gives me chills. It's the scene in the movie when someone walks out of the darkness into the light."
The phrase "fly on the wall" dates back to 1920s America and refers to a hidden observer who can overhear discussions or watch events unnoticed. One of the first citations of this phrase was in The Oakland Tribune, February 1921: "I'd just love to be a fly on the wall when the Right Man comes along." Some makers of film and television documentaries use a fly-on-the-wall technique, in which they record events as they happen without any artistic direction. The premise of the hit comedy The Office is that a fly-on-the-wall team are observing life unfold in an office environment.
The Prince-penned "Manic Monday" was the first song The Bangles heard coming from a car radio, but "Eternal Flame" is closest to Susanna's heart, perhaps because she sang it in "various states of undress."