Colin Meloy's songs encapsulate detailed narratives about other people's lives, but for this one, the Decemberists frontman truly let his imagination run wild. After viewing the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire, in which an angel becomes smitten with a female trapeze artist, he got inspired. "I thought, 'Wow, wouldn't it have been amazing to have your parents be traveling gymnasts and what if they had been Chinese trapeze artists?" Meloy told Rolling Stone. "I started with the line, 'My mother was a Chinese trapeze artist in prewar Paris,' and kept going."