Quoth the Johns:
We wrote and recorded this in a single afternoon on a dare from Sarah Vowell from This American Life while she waited at a coffee shop for us to finish. She offered us money to write a song spontaneously, as part of her report on Dial-A-Song, and, while we turned down the dough, we rose to the bait and cooked this thing up. Nice obvious use of some simple drum loops, and no bass instrument in sight-which I find intriguing and pretty random. The lyrics cannibalize some of what was going to become "Cyclops Rock" probably because they were sitting around at the moment.
[source: They Got Lost promotional email, November 6, 2002]