According to Wachtel, "Werewolves of London" was "the hardest song to get down in the studio I've ever worked on." However, Wachtel "laid down his solo in one take, before he'd even had a chance to partake of the bump of coke and drink he'd placed in front of him." According to Jackson Browne (who was the producer for the recording), "Werewolves of London" along with "Excitable Boy" were written while work was being done on the album that preceded Excitable Boy but were not included on that album in favor of other songs. The song is in the key of G major, with a three-chord progression that runs throughout.
The Grateful Dead performed the song live 13 times. During its spring and summer tours in 1978 the band played the song 9 times; then once in January of 1979. In 1985, 1990, and 1991 the band performed the song on Halloween.