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Well Written Rock Songs: If I Can Dream - Elvis Presley (1968)

Updated: Sep 13


Song Name: If I Can Dream

Artist: Elvis Presley

Released: November 22, 1968

Recorded: June 1968

Length: 3:10

Label: RCA Records

Songwriter(s): Walter Earl Brown


Introduction


I had not done one of these reviews in a while. This is where I take a song that has meaning for me and I provide my opinion on why it is such a great song.


This time around we are looking at one of the most popular songs in the Elvis repertoire with If I Can Dream.


Background


As you might have guessed, although Elvis sang the song, he was not the writer. That honour goes to Walter Earl Brown. HIs most notable works are working on A Steve Martin Special (1980) and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour (1971).


The song was originally used to be part of the finale on what was called NBC's Elvis which has become the '68 Comeback Special. The reason why it was a comeback at this point, is because Elvis focused mainly on movies during the previous 7 to 8 years. This was his coming back concert for his music. Needless to say it was quite popular.


How did this song come to be. Elvis was very fond of Martin Luther King Jr.. However, he was assassinated April 4th, 1968. It has been said that Elvis was very sad of his passing. Walter Earl Brown thought that it would be a good idea to write something that would pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr..


Not everyone was onboard with Elvis singing the song, saying that it was not really his style. However, Elvis did not back down and recorded it. When reading the lyrics, Elvis apparently said the following:


"I'm never going to sing another song I don't believe in. I'm never going to make another movie I don't believe in."


When he recorded the song, it has been reported that he sang the song with so much passion that he made the background gospel singers cry. They had never seen Elvis sing with so much passion.


This was the closing song of the special and I must admit it ended the show on a very amazing note. Let us listen to the song and discuss it later.


If I Can Dream - 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 Oh why

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 wont that sun appear

Were lost in a cloud With too much rain Were 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 tremblin question Still I am sure that the answer gonna come somehow Out there in the dark, there's a beckoning candle, yeah 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, ohhhhh, right now Let it come true right now Oh yeah


Bottomline


Where do I start as to how good this song is.


First of all, seeing Elvis singing the song, you cannot deny that he really felt what he sang about. This was not just another chart topper, he meant every word.


The second thing that is amazing to me is how relevant the song is, even after 52 years. I think we all wish that the dream was fulfilled but alas all these years later and the words still pack a powerful punch.


To me the lyrics that always get a tear in my eyes are the following:


Were lost in a cloud With too much rain Were 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


No one can be living in 2020 and not feel a little bit of the above. With the state of affairs of the world and the various injustices shown everyday on the news, this is exactly how I feel. Sometimes it just feels like we are in this hurricane and we cannot get out. However, if there is a glimmer of hope, that will give you enough to fight and make sure that the right thing eventually prevails.


I am convinced that there is no one that could have written a more accurate song for what we are living through right now.


I understand that Elvis gets most of the credit for this song as he is the one that sang it. However, we cannot forget Walter Earl Brown. He put those words on paper and they seem like magic. I do not think that even he thought that those words would have been as powerful all these years later.


Now, people that are not fans of Elvis would argue that this is another example of Elvis singing black music. The song itself has some gospel and soul. However, it is hard for me to picture anyone else singing this song. He brought the song to life and like him or not, that is what music is all about. Taking words and giving it life.


All that to say, this song is in my top 5 of Elvis songs along with Kentucky Rain, Wonderful World, Don't Cry Daddy and In the Ghetto. These songs are all awesome but this one truly has passed the test of time.


What do you think? We are curious to hear from you.


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