Capping off Elvis’ 1968 comeback special, “If I Can Dream” was written at the last minute by the show’s musical director, W. Earl Brown, as a response to the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., which had occurred just months prior.
Written in A minor with a deliberate, driving tempo of 94 bpm, the song became Elvis’ biggest chart hit in two years. It showcases the vocal power, grit, and range Elvis possessed at his peak, while the staging reflects his magnetism and outsized gifts as a performer. It all fits as of one piece.
If you ever see a list of “top male vocalists of all time,” and Elvis isn’t on it, think back on this song, and you may realize that his legacy has been ill-served. He was a gifted and versatile singer.
As Elvis finishes this performance, you get a glimpse of how lonely a life he could lead, as his stirring, emotional wrap is greeted by silence. He sheepishly wishes everyone a good night.
For the new film Elvis, Måneskin recorded an earthy, stripped down version of the song. It has all the oomph of most modern music, which isn’t much.
Instead, enjoy this breathtaking performance from an artist at his peak.