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If I Can Dream

This article is about the song. For the reality series, see If I Can Dream (web series).
"If I Can Dream"
File:If I Can Dream Cover.jpg
Single by Elvis Presley
B-side "Edge of Reality"
Released November 5, 1968
Genre Soul, pop, gospel
Length 3:10
Label RCA Records
Writer(s) Walter Earl Brown
Elvis Presley singles chronology

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"If I Can Dream"
File:NBC-TV Special.jpg
Song by Elvis Presley from the album Elvis (NBC TV Special)
Released November 22, 1968
Recorded June 1968
Genre Soul, Gospel, Pop
Length 3:10
Label RCA Records
Writer Walter Earl Brown
Composer Walter Earl Brown

"If I Can Dream" is a song made famous by Elvis Presley, written by Walter Earl Brown[1] and notable for its direct quotations of Martin Luther King, Jr. It was recorded by Presley in June 1968, two months after King's assassination. The recording was first released to the public as the finale of Presley's '68 Comeback Special.

Although the song is not technically gospel music, Presley performed the song with the intensity and intonations of southern gospel. It has since appeared on various Presley gospel and/or inspirational compilations.[2]


Brown was asked to write a song to replace "I'll Be Home for Christmas" as the grand finale on NBC's "Elvis" (June 20–23, 1968). He wrote "If I Can Dream", and when Presley heard it he proclaimed "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."[3]

Steve Binder, who produced Presley’s 1968 television comeback special, has often recalled the origin of Presley’s hit “If I Can Dream.” Presley and Binder were looking for a way to end the show. The two had discussed Elvis’ dismay over the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Binder was struck by the conversation and ordered W. Earl Brown, a songwriter working on the show, to come up with a song incorporating Presley’s concern to use as the finale to the show. So even though Presley did not write the song, his viewpoint was expressed in its composition. This enabled him to run rough shod over some of the song’s hokier lyrics when he delivered it.[4]

When Colonel Tom Parker heard the song demonstrated by Earl Brown, he said: "This ain't Elvis' kind of song." Elvis was also there, unbeknownst to him, and he said: "I'd like to try it, man." Earl Brown said when Elvis recorded the song, he saw the three back up singers have tears rolling down their cheeks. One of them whispered to him: "Elvis has never sung with so much emotion before. He means every word."[5]

Recordings & Success

Band-related errors prevented the first take from becoming the master. After filming for the TV special was completed for its eventual editing, then broadcast in December of the year, the song was released as a single - If I Can Dream/Edge Of Reality - in November 1968. It charted on Billboard's Hot 100 for 13 weeks, peaking at #12, with more than one million sales;[3] though the RIAA has only certified the song as gold (500,000 units shipped)as of March 27, 1992.[6] In Canada the song peaked at 6 on RPM (magazine)'s top singles chart, lasting more than several weeks.[7]


The song has appeared in many Presley compilations since its release, a number of which are related to the '68 Comeback Special or Inspirational meshes.[8] Sony BMG remastered the song in 2004, for future compilations.[9] The song is referred to as stereo mix (as opposed to the 2004 remaster honorific) in '68 Comeback Special releases after 2004.[10] Other compilations, such as Platinum - A Life In Music, include alternative takes on the song that are not as polished as the official takes. For instance, the background vocalists are not present in most of these takes, specifically with "If I Can Dream".[11]

In popular culture since

See also

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External links