The song describes the narrator's growing alcoholism. "Cooped up in his shitty motel room with The Shakes, a drink-desperate Zevon wittily narrates his frustration with L.A.'s refusal to give anyone a free pass. Even if it sinks into the ocean (oh, and it will), the city will still get its due. You may hate it here, but you can’t escape ('Heaven help the one who leaves') so long as you’re empty-handed."
This song features background vocals from Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys. When conducting the string section for this song, Zevon kept the veteran players "on his side" with pre-written humor. Zevon has said in interviews that this is one of his most personal songs.
The LA Weekly listed the song as number 10 in its list of "The 20 Best Songs Ever Written About L.A."