Although 1965 had seen the release of Elvis for Everyone, a studio album which was actually recorded over a ten-year period dating back to Presley's first recordings from Sun Studios in Memphis, it was back to the grind of making soundtracks. Elvis continued to grumble about the material and the continued pressure put on the stable of songwriters corraled by Freddy Bienstock — the writing team of Giant, Baum, and Kaye alone had provided 17 of 47 songs on the past four soundtracks in an eighteen-month period — but he soldiered on with as much grace as possible. In reality, almost any song could have been squeezed into the story lines, including old classics. But as long as sales continued, the formula required guaranteed control of publishing and new songs by the same songwriters. However, Presley's sales were plunging in music stores as well as ticket sales at the box office.
Eleven songs were recorded for Harum Scarum, and all were used and issued on the soundtrack with two of the tracks omitted in the film. As with Roustabout, no singles were issued in conjunction with the album. A single was issued a month later, using the leftover 1957 track "Tell Me Why" backed with "Blue River" from the aborted May 1963 sessions. In an onimous sign of things to come, it only made it to number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100, the lowest charting single of Presley's career to date. With the release of The Beatles' album Rubber Soul a mere thirty days following Harum Scarum's release, Presley's career was clearly in jeopardy with no end in sight.
Elvis recorded "Wisdom of the Ages" on February 24, 1965 at RCA studios. It featured as a bonus track on the soundtrack album, along with "Animal Instinct", but did not feature in the film itself.The Jordanaires sang backing vocals. The film and its soundtrack are widely considered one of the lowest points of Presley's career. The song progresses from F major to B flat major, to D minor to E flat major to F major.
In 2003 Harum Scarum was reissued on the Follow That Dream label in a special edition that contained the original album tracks along with numerous alternate takes.