Tori Amos is the daughter of a Methodist minister and she often touches on spiritual themes in her songs. She explained in publicity materials that this song is about religious intolerance: "I'm a minister's daughter. The power of the church is insidious, and it permeates. A lot of what the Church discusses is not about the compassionate path of Christ, it's about what kind of lifestyle is acceptable and approved of by the Church when god knows what they're doing behind closed doors. You have a lot of people waking up every morning who feel paralyzed to act because of these judgments. All around us people are not only experiencing physical bondage but emotional and mental bondage behind perfectly groomed lawns. Inside acceptable addresses the definition of bondage is perversely explored with those we know only too well. Moving from the personal to the political, 'Strong Black Vine' investigates the effect of religious intolerance, another form of bondage."
Amos expanded on her feelings concerning religious intolerance in an interview with the Amazon website: "I think that in the last few years, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how people might have authority but aren't powerful people at all. And the reason they're not is because they use their authority in ways to hurt other people--to control their lives in a negative way. And this has been something at the center of my life, trying to understand it. So the songs have come out of that."
Amos told musicOMH.com that's it not just intolerant Christians that she's criticizing in this song. She explained: "It's looking at this whole idea of intolerance within religion, whether it's courtesy of Christianity or Islam or Judaism."
Amos envisioned Abnormally Attracted To Sin, her 10th solo album, as an audio-visual project with each song accompanied by a "visualette" to complement its story. For this track, the Christian Lamb-directed clip uses Christian and pagan imagery juxtaposed with scenes of war in Iraq.
"Crank That (Soulja Boy)" was the most successful digital track of 2007 in the US with 2,909,000 downloads. On January 6, 2008 it became the first song ever to sell 3 million digital copies in the States.