Peyroux has generally recorded either covers or collaborated with other artists. This song is a rarity: a sole Peyroux-penned composition. She told Billboard magazine: "I'm really happy that I got to write. It feels like a new segment, and it's great work. I'm surrounded by beautiful sounds, really honest musicians, really honest playing."
This song is dedicated to the folk singer Odetta, who died in December 2008. Peyroux toured with her in 2006. The jazz singer told The Daily Telegraph April 9, 2009 that the artist and civil rights activist "changed everything" for her." She explained: "I was lucky enough to meet her while I was recording a Bessie Smith song in 2004. I looked up and she was conducting me from the vocal booth, not just with her hands but with every emotion running across her face. Without being less humble than I should be, I felt I had an understanding with her. I felt we recognised that the blues are a part of our heritage, too. That women are not only doing and experiencing the same things as men, but also that we can see what men are going through."
Peyroux told The Associated Press: "The song really reminds me a lot of my own life. It doesn't matter, somehow we always get through, we lose and then we continue."
"Pink Cadillac" was a B-side for Bruce Springsteen in 1984, but after Aretha Franklin sang about pink Cadillacs on "Freeway Of Love" the following year, Natalie Cole covered the song and had a hit with it in 1988.