The lyrics were largely inspired by the works of Jackson Browne. Beckley commented, "[Jackson Browne] has a knack, an ability to put words to music, that is much more like the L. A. approach to just genuine observation as opposed to simplifying it down to its bare essentials. . . I find Jackson can depress me a little bit, but only through his honesty; and it was that style of his which led to a song of mine, 'Sister Golden Hair', which is probably the more L. A. of my lyrics. . . [It] was one of the first times I used 'ain't' in a song, but I wasn't making an effort to. I was just putting myself in that frame of mind and I got those kind of lyrics out of it. "