Marilyn Livingston Dillow was a long time lover of Warren Zevon and the mother of Jordan Zevon. She is often noted as Zevon's first wife, although this is incorrect. Crystal Zevon is the only person he ever married. She is also incorrectly confused for Violet "cybelle" Santangelo (currently active in musical theater using the stage name Laura Kenyon), Zevon's duo partner in the group lyme & cybelle. Dillow died of breast cancer on March 4, 2004 at age 57, only a few months after Warren died (September 7, 2003) of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. In fact Jordan was informed of her cancer three weeks after his father died. He assisted the family in trying to help her through what was thought to be treatable cancer, putting his new musical ambitions temporally on hold. She went by the nickname "Tule", and Zevon made a song about her called "Tule's Blues" (Wanted Dead or Alive).
"The French Inhaler" is mainly intended as a kiss-off to Livingston. The over-all bitter tone of the song was lyrically modeled after Zevon found out about Livingston's post-breakup meeting with another musician. Jordan Zevon has described the lyrics of the song as "French Inhaler is [Warren Zevon's] way of saying 'fuck you' to my mom after she slept with another guy." He also went on to say, "...as much as it pains me that it's about my mother, it is the greatest ex-girlfriend 'fuck you' song of all time."