This is a cover of a Leonard Cohen song, which originally appeared on the Canadian singer-songwriter's 2001 10 New Songs album.
Katie Melua told I Like Music that this was the track she most enjoyed laying down when recording the Pictures album: "I really enjoyed singing 'In My Secret Life' because weirdly enough I thought Leonard Cohen managed to put into words what I'd never been able to with that song."
Melua also told Metro France October 2, 2007 why she decided to cover this song: "I have to stay my strongest point as a writer is my music, so I tend to rely on others for lyrics. I mean, I will guide people lyrically, but it's not my strong point. And in that song Leonard Cohen put into words what I haven't been able to and I just absolutely love them. You know how you spend most of your teens being idealist and quite naive and wanting to change the world and be different and not conform and not live in a money-based society. But everyone does, everyone sells out and lives in a very money-based society. And that's what the song is about to me: you buy what you're told - It's frustrating but it's nice to be able to admit to it."
The lyrics to "Heartbreak Hotel" were written by a steel guitar player who was once a dishwasher repairman. He was inspired by a newspaper story about a man who killed himself and left behind a note saying only, "I walk a lonely street."