Severinsen was best known as the bandleader on the NBC late-night talk show The Tonight Show. Davis was an occasional guest on the show, and during this time the two became acquainted. Following an appearance on the show, Severinsen approached Davis with the idea of recording a song that included the phrase "stop and smell the roses", since he had recently heard the phrase from a physician. Soon after, Davis vacationed in Hawaii and wrote the song, crediting Severinsen as a co-writer for giving him the idea. Severinsen was quoted as saying that Davis "could have gone ahead and written the song and not done that."
The lyrics to the song advise that while it is often necessary to forsake family obligations and pleasurable activities in order to succeed professionally, everyone should make sure that they take some time to "stop and smell the roses along the way".