Country hitmakers Craig Wiseman and Steve McEwan wrote this during a summertime trip to London. Although they didn't plan to write about someone dying, their shared experience of losing friends naturally came out in the plaintive song. McEwan came up with a melancholy chord progression for the line "my old friend" that inspired Wiseman to take it further. "So I started playing with that, and it was funny because I was like, 'It would be cool to start with 'my old friend,' but whenever you end a stanza and say 'my old friend,' it's the start of the next stanza already," Wiseman explained in the book Nashville Songwriter by Jake Brown. "So, 'My old friend, I apologize,' where every time you say it, you seem like you're ending a line, you're starting a line - we thought that would be a good little poetic device."