The song is written from the viewpoint of someone who has murdered a man who insulted his woman; he is missing his family and hiding from the Indiana police, who eventually catch up with him. Taylor wrote and composed the song after watching the movie Bonnie and Clyde. In addition to writing, composing, and originally recording the selection, Taylor produced the record and arranged it in collaboration with David Van De Pitte. It was released on the Rare Earth label, formed by Motown in an attempt to establish itself in the rock music market. The police siren sounds at the start of the record were removed from some copies supplied to radio stations after complaints that drivers hearing the song on the radio had mistakenly pulled over, thinking that the sounds were real.
The sirens are also heard during the instrumental section in the middle of the song. At the climax of the song, soon after the narrator has sung, "Red lights are flashin' around me,/ Yeah, love, it looks like they found me", and the chorus, the voice of a cop on the bullhorn is heard, commanding: "THIS IS THE POLICE. YOU ARE SURROUNDED. GIVE YOURSELF UP. THIS IS THE POLICE. GIVE YOURSELF UP. YOU ARE SURROUNDED." However, the narrator apparently ignores the command, and a gun battle ensues between the narrator of the song and the police, as the song fades out. An alternate version of the song fades out at the end without the gunfire sound effects.