Songwriter Louis St. Louis wrote the song for the movie after being promoted from dance arranger to music manager. He explained in an interview with Theater Mania
: "Trouble ensued with the music producer. [So] I became the music producer. Two weeks later I'm sitting in a trailer with Allan Carr, one of the main producers, and he said, 'John [Travolta] wants a new song.' Olivia [Newton-John] now had 'Hopelessly Devoted
,' [together] they had 'You're The One That I Want
,' and Carr said, 'John wants a song for the drive-in…Go back to the hotel and write it.'
When you come out of the Paramount lot, there's the famous arch. Just past the arch is a light to turn on Melrose to go north and it's a really long light. This was in the days of cassette recordings. I always had one handy. I took the tape recorder and went, 'Stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool, what will they say, Monday at school?' Light change. I got to the hotel fifteen minutes later and wrote the song in twenty minutes. I took the song to Allan Carr the next morning at seven thirty, he approved it, I took it to the line producer at ten thirty, he approved it, we played it for Robert Stigwood on the phone at one o'clock, he approved it, four o'clock we played it for Travolta, he approved it, four thirty it was my song, and four days later I had a ten-thousand-dollar check and I went out and I bought a brand new car: Honda Prelude, navy blue, tan interior, loaded."