"Sweet Lady Genevieve" is part of the rock opera, Preservation Act 1, with the lyrics being sung by Davies as the "Tramp", one of the principal figures in the story line. In the track, the Tramp is begging for the forgiveness of his former lover, Genevieve, saying that "this time I'll give you some security and I will make promises I can keep". Author Andrew Hickey said in his book, Preservation: The Kinks' Music 1964-1974, that the track was "Ray Davies' attempt to reach out to his estranged wife Rasa." The Tramp returns later in the album on "Sitting in the Midday Sun".
Although "Sweet Lady Genevieve" was not successful commercially, it has since been praised by music critics. Hickey claimed it "may be the last truly great Kinks song" and said that he "can think of few braver artistic works."AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the track "absolutely gorgeous" and labelled it the "real candidate for Davies' forgotten masterpiece". Jason Josephes of Pitchfork Media said that "Sweet Lady Genevieve "is one of the Kinks' greatest singles, a simple porchy folk- rock number you'll be humming for days." The track has since appeared on the compilation album Picture Book.