If I Can Dream

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"If I Can Dream"
If I Can Dream Cover.jpg
Single by Elvis Presley
from the album Elvis
B-side"Edge of Reality"
"Memories" (UK)
ReleasedNovember 5, 1968
RecordedJune 1968
LabelRCA Records
Songwriter(s)Walter Earl Brown
Producer(s)Mac Davis
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"Almost in Love" / "A Little Less Conversation"
"If I Can Dream" / "Edge of Reality"
"If I Can Dream"
Song by Elvis Presley
from the album Elvis
ReleasedNovember 22, 1968
RecordedJune 1968
LabelRCA Records
Songwriter(s)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 similarities with Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech.[2] The song was published by Elvis Presley's music publishing company Gladys Music, Inc. It was recorded by Presley in June 1968, just two months after King's assassination. The recording was first released to the public as the finale of Presley's '68 Comeback Special.


Brown was asked to write a song to replace "I'll Be Home for Christmas" as the grand finale on NBC's "Elvis", from June 20–23, 1968 (now also known as ‘68 Comeback Special). Knowing about Presley’s fondness for Martin Luther King Jr., and about his devastation related to his then-recent assassination in Memphis, he wrote "If I Can Dream" with Presley in mind. After Presley heard the demo, he proclaimed "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".[3]

The song was published by Presley's company Gladys Music, Inc.

After Colonel Tom Parker heard the demo of the song sent by Earl Brown, he said: "This ain't Elvis' kind of song." Elvis was also there, and he countered Parker’s argument, then he pleaded: "Let me give it a shot, man." Earl Brown said while Elvis recorded the song, he saw tears rolling down the cheeks of the backing vocalists. One of them whispered to him: "Elvis never sung with so much emotion. Looks like he means every word."[4]

Recording success

After filming for the TV special was complete with its eventual editing, then broadcast in December the same year, the song was released as a single with “Edge of Reality” as the flip side in November 1968. It charted on Billboard's Hot 100 for 3 months and a week, peaking at #12, with more than one million sales;[3] although the RIAA certified the song as only gold (500,000 units shipped) as of March 27, 1992.[5] In Canada, the song peaked at #6 on RPM's top singles chart, maintaining that position for two weeks.[6]

Chart history


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[18] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[19] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


The song appeared in many Presley compilations, of which many are related to the '68 Comeback Special or Inspirational meshes.[20] Sony BMG remastered the song in 2004. The song is referred to as stereo mix (as opposed to the 2004 remaster honorific) in '68 Comeback Special releases after 2004. Other compilations, such as Platinum - A Life In Music, include alternative takes on the song less polished than the official takes. For instance, the background vocalists are not present in most of these takes, specifically with "If I Can Dream". According to unsubstantiated rumors, Presley nailed the perfect take after the backing vocalists left the studio.[21]

Cover versions

See also


  1. ^ "IF I CAN DREAM". ACE Title Search. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  2. ^ "If I can dream: The Elvis tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr". The Conversation. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Elvis-TheKingsCourt".
  4. ^ Barry Manilow The Complete Collection and Then Some... booklet, page 42, 1992 Arista Records - text edited by Maureen Lasher.
  5. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - December 25, 2015". www.riaa.com.
  6. ^ "Search: RPM".
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1969-02-03. Retrieved 2020-07-22.
  8. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – If I Can Dream". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  9. ^ [ Flavour of New Zealand, ]
  10. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  12. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  13. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, February 1, 1969
  14. ^ "Irish-charts.com – Discography {{{artist}}}". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  15. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  16. ^ "RPM Top Singles of 1969". Library and Archives Canada. RPM. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  17. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
  18. ^ "British single certifications – Elvis Presley – If I Can Dream". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  19. ^ "American single certifications – Elvis Presley – If I Can Dream". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  20. ^ "Elvis Presley - Elvis Inspirational - Amazon.com Music".
  21. ^ "Amazon.com: Platinum - A Life In Music: Elvis Presley: MP3 Downloads".
  22. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. 1990-02-10. Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  23. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. 1992-12-12. Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  24. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. 2010-06-19. Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  25. ^ "The lyrics and the translation of If I can dream, the Elvis song sung by the Maneskin at Eurovision". fresno24.com. 2022-04-14. Retrieved 2022-04-14.

External links

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