Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote this song for Elvis in 1957 just after they finished working with him on songs for his film Jailhouse Rock. Elvis liked having the duo in the studio, as he thought they were his "lucky charms." He was working on his first Christmas album when a call came in that they desperately needed one more song to complete it. Leiber and Stoller could write very quickly, so they found a utility closet, put the song together in a very short time (in More Songwriters on Songwriting, Stoller says it was eight minutes), and presented it to Elvis' manager, "Colonel" Tom Parker.
"What took you so long, boys?" Parker asked.
While Elvis and the writing team of Leiber and Stoller got along fantastically, "Colonel" Tom Parker was beginning to show his true colors at this time. Compelled by greed and increasing insecurity over the possibility that Elvis would slip through his fingers, Parker jealously fought off anyone who would get too close to Elvis without going through him. Several incidents between Parker and Leiber and Stoller had already happened by the time this song was written.
As recounted in the book Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography, Leiber and Stoller showed up at the studio and Parker scowled, "You got the song?" Leiber and Stoller explained that they couldn't have, as they had just gotten the call and had rushed right over. Parker sneered, "Write it right now!" and the songwriters went into the mixing room. Fifteen minutes later, they walk out with this song. Parker barks, "What took you so long?" and the songwriting time responds - wait for it - "Writer's block!" Parker didn't even crack a smile.
More trivia dirt on "Colonel" Tom Parker: His real birthplace was the Netherlands. His real birth name was Andreas Cornelis ("Dries") van Kuijk. He simply joined the US Army at age 20, even though he was never a citizen. He got the name "Tom Parker" from the Captain of the base where he was stationed, in what may have been an attempt at identity theft. By the end of Elvis' life, Parker was charging a commission of between 25% and 50% of Elvis' royalties, when 10% was the standard. After Elvis' death, Parker fought viciously with the Presley family over rights to the music. Parker's resume prior to becoming Elvis' manager included the careers of: dogcatcher, pet cemetery proprietor, and circus worker.
The movie star Mae West did a saucy cover of this song for her 1966 album Wild Christmas.