Amos discussed this song in a 2009 track-by-track with Rolling Stone: "Little did I know that ladies that work in the other entertainment industry would listen and dance to it around their poles. And people stop me all the time. Even very recently I was getting wine not far from here, and somebody said, 'I teach pole dancing classes to your music,' and 'Leather' was one of those songs. So I think there was a side to me that was trying to - in the shedding - to also really collect my shadow portions. And I would go visit them and take these sides that I had judged. And one side that had been very crucified was the sexual side that did not yet understand erotic spirituality, did not know how to bring this into being. Very far away - years away from this. Little did she know when she was writing 'Leather' that we would be years and years away from knowing how to integrate that."
While on her Dew Drop Inn Tour in 1996, Amos shared the story that inspired the song which, she explained, is not about "wild sex." She was living in a run-down apartment in Hollywood when a so-called friend stopped by to borrow sugar. When the singer played her an offering from Little Earthquakes, the woman told her it wasn't catchy and she should consider changing her writing style. After she left, Tori wrote "Leather" in eight minutes.
This was used on the TV show Oz in the 2002 episode "Variety." It was also used in the movie Attraction (2000), starring Matthew Settle and Gretchen Mol.