"Heaven Beside You" was written and sung by guitarist Jerry Cantrell with Layne Staley doing harmonies during the chorus. The song is a mid-tempo song that contrasts the general overall "heaviness" of Alice in Chains' eponymous album.
"Heaven Beside You" was written by Jerry Cantrell after the break-up with his girlfriend of seven years. Cantrell was unable to remain faithful to the woman who he described as "the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my life," and added, "I still love her, but I'm too much of a fucking wolf—kill, attack, move on...It's so tough when you're so used to being hard. You can't tell an oak tree to be a pine." In the liner notes of 1999's Music Bank box set collection, Jerry Cantrell said of the song:
Another attempt to reconcile the fact that my life and paths are tearing me apart from the person I love. All the things I write about her are a way for me to maybe speak to her, express things I could never express.
Allmusic's Steve Huey regarded the song "among the band's best work." Ned Raggett of Allmusic said that the song "continued in the vein of Jar of Flies with its lead acoustic riff and generally low-key presentation" and added that "Cantrell's electric work is some of his best, moving beyond the admittedly powerful blasts of feedback he was known for to find a new, textured approach that balanced volume with a richer, less oppressive feel."