During the recording of "For Your Life" at Musicland Studios, Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant was convalescing from a car accident which he had sustained in Greece the previous year, and he delivered his vocal performance from a wheelchair. The song's vocals are notable in part because of the snorting sound heard around 5:30, with the lyrics: "With the fine lines of the crystal payin' through your nose". Plant later explained the song's venom was due in part to his observations of the excessive amount of cocaine which had now pervaded and ruined the music scene in Los Angeles, during his stay on the West Coast prior to recording. The lyrics, written by Plant, indicated that one part of the song also had to do with an unnamed female acquaintance of his who got drawn into the Los Angeles drug scene, to whom he wags a finger and says "watch it."
This song was never performed live by the band at Led Zeppelin concerts until their reunion show on 10 December 2007 at The O2 in London. For the performance Page played a Gibson Custom Shop replica of his 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom that was stolen in 1970. An arrangement was also worked out for the Coverdale and Page tour of Japan in 1993, but never executed live.