"The Load-Out" describes the daily practices of a band and its road crew on a concert tour, and the emotions evoked throughout such an endeavor. The first 3:35 minutes of the song consists of Browne singing and playing piano with David Lindley playing slide guitar, at which point he is joined by synth, followed by the rest of his band. Eventually "The Load-Out" morphs into "Stay." At the conclusion of the song, guitarist David Lindley sings a verse from "Stay".
Many radio stations play "The Load Out" and "Stay" together, which is 9:33, being as they are of a thematic unity.
Tom Scharpling chose "The Load Out" as the "worst song ever written" on the November 30, 2004 episode of The Best Show on WFMU. Scharpling's ignominious title of "worst song ever" was later transferred to Neil Diamond's "Porcupine Pie" on the April 25, 2006 episode of The Best Show.