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If I Can Dream

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…

The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, as well as that of U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy, affected Elvis Presley deeply. These feelings led Elvis to give one of the most passionate performances of his career.

America was in the midst of an upheaval in 1968. The Civil Rights movement was in full swing and our world and culture were changing. Within a short span of time, two leaders were assassinated. Dr. King was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis – Elvis' hometown. Robert Kennedy, a US Senator who strongly supported human rights and social justice, was killed two months later, on June 6.

It was Elvis' reaction to the news of Kennedy's assassination that lead to the creation of the song 'If I Can Dream', a tribute song to King, featuring direct quotes from the Civil Rights leader. In the spring of '68, Elvis was working on his upcoming TV special, 'Elvis'. After seeing the news about Kennedy's death on TV, Elvis spent an entire night with the show's director, Steve Binder, and his friends, talking about the assassinations and Elvis' wishes for the world. The conversation was heartfelt and honest, and Binder believed Elvis had an important message for the country. Binder then went to the show's Musical Director Billy Goldenberg and songwriter Earl Brown and told them about the discussion. He wanted a powerful, meaningful song that would close out the TV special. Because the special was slated to air in December, the producers and Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker, had planned to end the show with a Christmas song, but Binder had other ideas. It wasn't long before 'If I Can Dream' was born.

Once the song was finished, Binder took the song to Elvis and played it for him.

'Let me hear it again', said Elvis, and the song was played again and again. 'Okay', Elvis said, 'I'll do it'.

On June 23, 1968, Elvis recorded 'If I Can Dream' in several impassioned takes, even though it is said that the first take Elvis gave was perfect. The king gave such a powerful performance that some band members were taken aback, so blown away by Elvis' performance that they had to do several retakes.

It was after the band and backup singers were sent home that Elvis gave an even more astonishing performance as he re-recorded the vocals. Elvis had the lights turned off and gave himself over to the music. Over the next few takes, he fell to his knees on the concrete floor, giving himself completely to the song. After those takes, Elvis went to the control room and had his chosen take played repeatedly before he gave it his blessing. Elvis was so moved by the song and his experience with it that he told Binder,'I'll never sing another song I don't believe in. I'm never going to make another movie I don't believe in'.

'If I Can Dream' was featured at the end of Elvis' Singer Special (later known as the '68 Special) on December 3, 1968. This was the first time the public heard the song, and it was later released as a single with 'Edge of Reality' (recorded for the film 'Live a Little, Love a Little') as its flipside in November 1968. The single spent 13 weeks on the U.S. pop chart peaking at #12. In the U.K., it was on the chart for 10 weeks, peaking at #11. It is now a Gold Record single.

Elvis Presley Lyrics Words & Music by W. Earl Brown Elvis Presley Lyrics

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

There must be peace and understanding sometime
Strong winds of promise that will blow away
All the doubt and fear
If I can dream of a warmer sun
Where hope keeps shining on everyone
Tell me why, oh why, oh why won't that sun appear

We're lost in a cloud
With too much rain
We're trapped in a world
That's troubled with pain
But as long as a man
Has the strength to dream
He can redeem his soul and fly

Deep in my heart there's a trembling question
Still I am sure that the answer gonna come somehow
Out there in the dark, there's a beckoning candle
And while I can think, while I can talk
While I can stand, while I can walk
While I can dream, please let my dream
Come true, right now
Let it come true right now
Oh yeah

Recorded: 1968/06/23, first released on single

June 20, 1968 Western Recorders - Burbank, California

1968 NBC TV Special 'Elvis' Sessions

Nothingville / Guitar Man (Part 1) (Guitar Man Section 1) WPA1 8045-10
Let Yourself Go (Part 1) (Guitar Man Section 2) ____-07
Let Yourself Go (Composite) WPA1 8112-SP
Guitar Man (Part 2 - Fast) (Escape Section 1) ____-08
Big Boss Man (Escape Section 3) WPA1 8046-03
It Hurts Me (Part 1) (Escape Section 4) ____-07

June 21, 1968 Western Recorders - Burbank, California

Guitar Man (Part 2 - Slow) (Escape Section 1 Remake) ____-07
It Hurts Me (Part 2) (After Karate Section 1) ____-11
It Hurts Me (Composite) WPA1 8113-SP
Guitar Man (Part 3) / Little Egypt (After Karate Section 2) WPA1 8048-10
Trouble / Guitar Man (Part 4) (After Karate Section 3) WPA1 8030 / 8047-03
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child / Where Could I Go But to The Lord / Up Above My Head - Intro (Gospel Sect. 1) WPA1 8039-07
Up Above My Head / I Found That Light / Saved - Intro (Gospel Section 2) ____-11

June 22, 1968 Western Recorders - Burbank, California

Up Above My Head / I Found That Light / Saved - Intro (Gospel Section 2) (Continued) WPA1 8040-13
Saved (Part 1) / Preach For The Sky / Saved (Part 2) (Gospel Section 3) WPA1 8041-SP
Trouble (Opening) / WPA1 8030-21
Guitar Man (Opening) WPA1 8047-SP

June 23, 1968 Western Recorders - Burbank, California

If I Can Dream WPA1 8029-05
If I Can Dream (Dubdown to Track)
Memories (Track) ____-04
Memories (Short Track) ____-02
Let Yourself Go (Closing Instrumental) ____-05
A Little Less Conversation (Track) ____-NA

June 24, 1968 Western Recorders - Burbank, California

Memories (Vocal Overdub) WPA1 8044-NA
A Little Less Conversation (Vocal Overdub) CPA5 5148-NA

June 26, 1968

Elvis, cast and crew enjoy a party in honour of his manager Elvis Presley Photos Colonel Tom Parker's birthday. It 'snows' as nod to Colonel's longstanding tongue-in-cheek fraternal order known as the Snowmen's League of America. Elvis performs special new comedic lyrics to the song It Hurts Me, giving a send-up to Colonel and his finagling with the producers. Executive producer Bob Finkel gives Colonel a portrait of himself as Napoleon.

June 30, 1968 NBC Studios - Burbank, California

Guitar Man (Road Section 2) (Vocal Overdub) ____-02
Guitar Man (Road Section 3) (Vocal Overdub) ____-06
Tag ('Huh Huh Huh') ____-01
If I Can Dream (Soundtrack Version)(Vocal Overdub) CPA5 5189-04
Trouble (Opening) (Vocal Overdub) ____-07 / Guitar Man (Opening) (Playback)
Guitar Man (Alley) (Vocal Overdub) ____-06
Little Egypt / Trouble (Nightclub) ('Little Egypt' - V.O.) ____-04

Elvis NBC TV Special
Elvis - NBC TV Special LP 1968.

December 3, 1968, the broadcast of Elvis' television special, Elvis, turned his career around by introducing him to hipper recording material and new directions. The '68 Special opens (The actual name of this television special is Elvis.) with Elvis singing a hot new version of the gutsy 'Trouble', from his 1958 film King Creole. This segues into Guitar Man, which, with its semi-autobiographical lyrics, becomes the underlying theme of the show.

'If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra' CD

CD. 'If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra' CD

CD. Elvis' Gold Records - Volume 5

Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.

The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.