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Elvis Presley and Martin Luther King


Fifty-five years ago, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was standing on the second-story balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, when he was shot by a sniper. 

Just 39 years old at the time, King, in the eight years leading up to his tragic death, transformed the American civil rights movement.

It became a national crusade that inspired people across the social spectrum and turned long-neglected economic and racial injustices into major political issues, not just in the United States, but around the world. 

And in the aftermath of his assassination, millions of people paid tribute to his courage, his eloquence and his determination. 

Elvis Presley was one of them.

He recorded the song “If I Can Dream” just two months after the assassination, and the emotional intensity with which he does so still brings back the shock and grief that gripped America in the wake of King’s murder. 

Presley was only six years younger than Martin, and both were born and raised in the Deep South (King in Georgia and Elvis in Mississippi), where they were surrounded by institutionalized racism.

Presley was unable to attend the funeral in person as she was filming “Live a Little, Love a Little,” but according to co-star Celeste Yarnall, she and Elvis watched Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral during lunch in his trailer home. “…he cried, he was really touched.” 

A few weeks later, Elvis began working on the television show now widely known as ‘68 Comeback.

Recorded in June and broadcast on December 3, the show was originally scheduled to close with Elvis singing “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” a plan enthusiastically backed by his manager, Colonel Tom Parker

King’s assassination was compounded by Robert Kennedy‘s, for which Elvis resisted the originally planned end of the Special.

He wanted to end with a song that reflected his deep sadness over the racial and political strife that divided the country. 

The Comeback Special closes -unforgettably- with “If I Can Dream“, written by Earl Brown, and represented by Elvis in a white suit in front of big red letters with his name. 

King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is clearly Brown’s inspiration for the lyrics to “If I Can Dream.”

 For the first time in nearly a decade, and for one of the last in his career, Elvis sings, and he knows he sings, a song that matters, his voice filled with a raw emotion that almost overwhelms him at times, and that brings him to bridge (“the strength to dream“) and climax (“right now“) at an intensity approaching a scream. 

Before us once again is the angry, urgent and anti-establishment Elvis who exploded on the American music scene 12 years before, and who now, at 33, closes his Special honoring the greatest black leader in the country.


There must be lights burning brighter somewhereGot to be birds flying higher in a sky more blueIf I can dream of a better landWhere all my brothers walk hand in handTell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come trueOh why
There must be peace and understanding sometimeStrong winds of promise that will blow away the doubt and fearIf I can dream of a warmer sunWhere hope keeps shining on everyoneTell me why, oh why, oh why won’t that sun appear
We’re lost in a cloudWith too much rainWe’re trapped in a worldThat’s troubled with painBut as long as a manHas the strength to dreamHe can redeem his soul and fly
Deep in my heart there’s a trembling questionStill I am sure that the answer, answer’s gonna come somehowOut there in the dark, there’s a beckoning candle, yeahAnd while I can think, while I can talkWhile I can stand, while I can walkWhile I can dreamOh, please let my dreamCome trueRight nowLet it come true right nowOh yeah

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xA142IsjQiE]

Source: theconversation.com

Information provided by Elvis Shop Argentina


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