If I Can Dream
|"If I Can Dream"|
|Single by Elvis Presley|
|B-side||"Edge of Reality"|
|Released||November 5, 1968|
|Genre||Rock 'n' Roll|
|Writer(s)||Walter Earl Brown|
|Elvis Presley singles chronology|
|"If I Can Dream"|
|Song by Elvis Presley from the album Elvis (NBC TV Special)|
|Released||November 22, 1968|
|Genre||Rock 'n' Roll|
|Writer||Walter Earl Brown|
|Composer||Walter Earl Brown|
"If I Can Dream" is a song made famous by Elvis Presley, written by Walter Earl Brown1 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
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 27th, 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
- Barry Manilow did the song on his Live on Broadway album in 1990, it was also included on the subsequent box set compilation album The Complete Collection and Then Some...
- Della Reese sang the song as a spiritual ode to God in a 1995 episode of Touched by an Angel, entitled "In the Name of God".
- Robson and Jerome covered the song in 1995.
- Canadian Idol 3 runner-up Rex Goudie sang "If I Can Dream" during Top 4 - Elvis Night.
- American Idol 5 contestant and second runner up Elliott Yamin sang "If I Can Dream" during Elvis night.
- On American Idol 6, Celine Dion sang "If I Can Dream" as a duet with Presley, using special effects. It was later included on The Best of Celine Dion & David Foster (2012).
- In the jukebox musical All Shook Up Chad sings it to one of the couples. Cheyenne Jackson and the show's cast sang it at a Broadway benefit for Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
- Swedish singer Carola Häggkvist recorded a cover on the album Guld, platina & passion.
- In the 2005 CBS miniseries Elvis: The Early Years, the original segment is re-enacted in the end scene with Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who portrays Elvis in the series) lip synching the song.
- The Elvis Presley version is also used as the title song for the new 2010 reality based television series of the same title created by Simon Fuller and produced by 19 Entertainment and CKX, Inc. CKX, Inc. owns 85% of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
- In 2010 Terry Venables recorded a cover of the song in association with British newspaper The Sun. It featured the 60-piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Harry Redknapp and Ian Wright filmed at Wembley Stadium
- In 2010, Jason Lee playing the character Det. Dwight Hendricks in the TNT’s fledgling series Memphis Beat, 'sung' (actually the voice belongs to Mark Arnell) this song, in the end of the pilot episode (aired 06/22/2010).
- In 2013, the Toronto Northern Lights chorus covered the song and won the gold medal at the 2013 Barbershop Harmony Society International Championship.
- "IF I CAN DREAM". ACE Title Search. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
- Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Elvis-Inspirational-Presley/dp/B000E6EJBG
- Elvis-tkc.com http://elvis-tkc.com/forum2/lofiversion/index.php/t15948.html
- ClassicPopIcons.com http://www.classicpopicons.com/the-singer-not-the-song/
- Barry Manilow The Complete Collection and Then Some... booklet, page 42, 1992 Arista Records - text edited by Maureen Lasher.
- RIAA.com http://riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?content_selector=gold-platinum-searchable-database#
- Collectionscanada.gc.ca http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-100.01-e.php?PHPSESSID=m89iq841abagb37ld9c0fdc1f3
- Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Elvis-Inspirational-Presley/dp/B000E6EJBG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334178824&sr=8-1
- Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Can-Dream-2004-Sony-Remaster/dp/B00137KRDY/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1334190901&sr=8-6
- Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001DE7LZ4/ref=dm_dp_trk12?ie=UTF8&qid=1334191358&sr=8-16
- Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Platinum-A-Life-In-Music/dp/B0013AYBCE/ref=pd_sim_sbs_dmusic_a_2