"Everlong" was written against the background of the break-up of Dave Grohl's first marriage to photographer Jennifer Youngblood. Having returned home to Virginia for Christmas 1996, Grohl turned the initial riff into a complete song and wrote the lyrics after falling for a new woman, "That song's about a girl that I'd fallen in love with and it was basically about being connected to someone so much, that not only do you love them physically and spiritually, but when you sing along with them you harmonize perfectly.".
The surreal, satirical video for the song was directed by Michel Gondry. The running time of the video exceeds that of the original version of the song; this version is used only for the video. Although Taylor Hawkins appears in the video as the drummer, Dave Grohl actually plays the drum track on the original album recording, as Hawkins had not yet joined the band. The music video is, in part, a parody of the film The Evil Dead.
Although the song is normally performed with electric guitars, vocalist/guitarist Dave Grohl's solo acoustic variation gained popularity after an impromptu rendition on Howard Stern's radio show in 1997. The band has performed it acoustically then and an acoustic performance concludes their 2006 live CD and DVD Skin and Bones. Additionally, an acoustic version of Everlong was released on Foo Fighters' 2009 Greatest Hits album.
The song is American comedian and talk show host David Letterman's favorite song, and so is regularly played by the house band, Paul Shaffer, and the CBS Orchestra on his Late Show. On his first night back on air after heart surgery, Letterman had Foo Fighters on his show, introducing them by saying, "Here they are, ladies and gentlemen—my favorite band playing my favorite song—Foo Fighters!" Dave Grohl, in the middle of performing the song, welcomed Letterman back to television.