Mitchell (from a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times): "That was my first farewell to show business. I was in Canada, where I have a sanctuary where I still go sometimes, and I had decided to quit show business and get away from all the pressures I felt. To me, this was an unfair, crooked business and it has nothing to do with real talent. I was up in Canada about a year and I guess it strengthened my nervous system a little, so I finally came back."
The "Run For the Roses" is a name for the Kentucky Derby horse race, where the winning horse is covered in a blanket of roses in the winner's circle. Introducing this song in concert in 1972, Mitchell said: "That comes from the expression 'To run for the roses.' You know what that's all about: you take this horse and he comes charging into the finish line and they throw a wreath of flowers around his neck and then one day they take him out and shoot him."
This is the title track to Mitchell's fifth album, which was her first released on David Geffen's Asylum Records. Mitchell and Geffen were good friends at the time - she had moved to British Columbia and stayed with Geffen on her return trips to Los Angeles.