The caustic lyrics were inspired by Zevon's breakup with his long-term girlfriend and mother of his son Jordan. Marilyn Livingston. Jordan Zevon told The Guardian in 2013 that despite his mom being aware that she was the target of the song, she still found it irresistible. "Despite the subject matter, my mom would play that song to me after a couple of glasses of wine and laugh and say: 'Isn't that brilliant?'" he recalled. "She knew he was a genius."
The soaring harmony vocals were provided by Don Henley and Glenn Frey of The Eagles.
Until December 5, 1998, a song had to be issued as a single to make the Hot 100. Aaliyah's "Try Again" was the first tune to top the chart based on airplay alone, without any sales figures being included.
"Islands in the Stream" was originally written by The Bee Gees as an R&B song. It was originally written by the brothers for Marvin Gaye, however it was recorded instead as a duet by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton with the Gibb Brothers also contributing vocals.