May 11

A Rebirth of His Career: “If I Can Dream” by Elvis Presley

A Rebirth of His Career: "If I Can Dream" by Elvis Presley 1
Elvis Presley (Rate Your Music)

For a couple of years in the 1960s, many thought that Elvis Presley’s music career was going down as his recording were mainly soundtracks to the movies he was appearing in. However, the creation of the song, “If I Can Dream,” marked the rebirth of his career. It became a hit in both the UK and the US since Elvis’ “Love Letters” in 1966.

This song was written as a response to the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, which had happened a few months previously.

Song Background

If I Can Dream” is a song recorded and made famous by Elvis Presley. In addition, the song is most notable for its direct quotations of Martin Luther King, Jr. It was recorded by Presley in June 1968, two months after King’s assassination.

If I Can Dream” was published by Gladys Music, Inc, Presley’s music publishing company. Moreover, the recording was first released to the public as the finale of Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special.

There must be lights burning brighter somewhere
Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue
If I can dream of a better land
Where all my brothers walk hand in hand
Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true

Presley sang the song with so much passion and intensity. He even performed it with intonations of southern gospel. Despite the song being technically not a gospel music, it has appeared on various Presley gospel compilations.

The songwriter, Walter Brown revealed in an interview that he was asked to write a song as a replacement of “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” It would serve as the grand finale on NBC’s “Elvis” which aired on June 20-23, 1968. As a result, he wrote, “If I Can Dream.” Interestingly, when Presley heard it, he exclaimed:

“I’m never going to sing another song I don’t believe in. I’m never going to make another picture I don’t believe in.”

A Rebirth of His Career: "If I Can Dream" by Elvis Presley 2
Elvis Presley (Photo by

On the other hand, when Colonel Tom Parker heard the song as demonstrated by Earl Brown, he stated:

“This ain’t Elvis’ kind of song.” Elvis was also there, unbeknownst to him, and he said: “I’d like to try it, man.”

However, Brown responded that when he recorded the song with Elvis, he saw tears rolling down the cheeks of the three back up singers. One of the singers told him:

“Elvis has never sung with so much emotion before. He means every word.”

Watch Elvis Presley as he performs the song with passion and intensity below:

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Elvis Presley, If I Can Dream

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