The first three tracks all handle the topic of world politics, and ponder the role of the United States in the world. "Long Walk Home," for example, empathizes with troops under deployment overseas. Though in response to the foreign policy issues of the time (Beirut, Qaddafi), Young found new meaning in these songs in the context of the war on terror and the occupation of Iraq. During his "Freedom of Speech" tour in support of Living with War, Young posted videos of these three songs on his website. The "Mideast Vacation" and "Long Walk Home" videos were later released on the DVD included with the album Living with War: In the Beginning. The performances are from his 1986 tour with Crazy Horse and are labeled as being "From Neil Young Archives Volume 3," a perennially unreleased box set in a series of such collections eventually promised to chronicle Young's entire career.
Most of the album was recorded live in concert at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, CA on November 18 and 19, 1986. "Mideast Vacation", "Around The World" and "When Your Lonely Heart Breaks" were recorded on the 18th, "Inca Queen", "Too Lonely" and "Prisoners Of Rock 'N' Roll" were recorded on the 19th. "Long Walk Home" is a mix of recordings from both these dates.
The song "We Never Danced" had made its first appearance on the soundtrack to the 1987 film Made in Heaven, in a version by Martha Davis of the Motels.