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In some early notes the TV special is to be called "JUST ELVIS"

and the final number is only indicated as a ‘Big Ballad’

as opposed to the yet-to-be-written ‘If I Can Dream’.



"If I Can Dream"
is a song made famous by Elvis Presley, written by Walter Earl Brown

and notable for its direct quotations to Martin Luther King, Jr.

It was recorded by ELVIS in June 1968, two months after King's assassination.

The recording was first released to the public as the finale in His 1968 Comeback Special.

Although the song is not technically gospel music, he performed the song with the Intensity and Intonations of southern gospel.

It has since appeared on various Elvis Gospel and Inspirational Compilations.

Song outline background:

Songwriter Earl Brown was asked to write a song to replace "I'll Be Home For Christmas"

as the grand finale on NBC's "Elvis" (recorded June 23, 1968).

He wrote "If I Can Dream," and when Elvis 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."

23rd June 1968 ~ Western Recorders, Burbank.

: WPA1 8029-05 (Gladys Music)
The climax of the evening came with W.Earl Browns new number.

From the start Elvis sang as if he were pleading for his very life and only minor mistakes by the band prevented
TAKE ONE from being the Master.

Afterward in the studio
he called for endless playbacks of the chosen take, immersing himself in the experience –
reveling in how far the journey had taken him, and how well it had all turned out.

24th June Western Recorders, Burbank.
~ Bones Howe spent the following day making Dubdown to Rhythm Tracks for use by Elvis on the 30th June
~ when Elvis would also Live Sing over the Backing Tracks for some Extra Tapping segments.

some vocals may have been overdubbed on the 24th by the Blossoms
(BLOSSOMS: = Jean King, Darlene Love, Fanita James)

30th June 1968 ~
taping on 2” Ampex Reel to Reel at NBC

The production had fallen behind schedule, and an extra day is needed to complete the taping.

The day begins with repair work on parts of the 'Guitar Man' Road Medley

Then Elvis, dressed in the Edwardian – style White Suit that Bill Belew has designed as if presenting the star as a southern gentleman of unassailable purity, pours his heart once again into four live Vocal Tracks

(Three of which are Complete filmed takes) of the climactic number “IF I CAN DREAM”

30th June 1968 ~ taping .. continued...

The final filmed take (officially the 5th, since an incomplete rehearsal is counted as the 1st.)

~ will be used for the broadcast,

while the studio vocal will be used for the single,

but each of the three full performances is electric, impassioned, and heartfelt.

The rest of the day is spent on various sequences,
with some portions presenting Elvis singing live to the pre-recorded track "Dream",
others mixing in the pre-recorded vocal.
"Elvis" 1968 SONG RELEASE

Elvis would sing "If I Can Dream" from his heart.

Yet, the band-related errors prevented the first take from becoming the master.

It was one of his MOST TREASURED Songs.

"Elvis - TV Special"
It was then first released as single - If I Can Dream/Edge Of Reality - on 5th November 1968.

It peaked on Billboard's Hot 100 at #12 for 13 weeks,

One Million plus Sales.

Getting Elvis a Christmas single seems to have been part of the original deal,

and the show was at one point slated to close with him singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

Instead he closes with a song called "If I Can Dream," a late contribution from vocal arranger Walter Earl Brown -
- a plea for peace and understanding that in the murderous year of 1968 had a timely urgency.

Dressed all in white, planted before his name in lights 40 feet high, he folds his body into the song as if in pain, a pain he means to kill with hope.

It is, for all the planning that went into it, as raw and real as any performance I've ever seen. Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
If I Can Dream Lyrics

There must be lights burning brighter somewhere.
Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue.
If I can dream of a better land,
where all my brothers walk hand in hand.
Tell me why, oh why,
oh why can't my dream come true?
Oh why?

There must be peace and understanding sometime.
Strong winds of promise that will blow away
all the doubt and fear.
If I can dream of a warmer sun,
where hope keeps shining on everyone.
Tell me why, oh why,
oh why won't that sun appear?

We're lost in a cloud
with too much rain.
We're trapped in a world
that's troubled with pain.
But as long as a man
has the strength to dream
he can redeem his soul
and fly...

Deep in my heart there's a trembling question.
Still I am sure, that the answer's
gonna come somehow.
Out there in the dark,
there's a beckoning candle, yeah.
And while I can think, while I can talk.
While I can stand, while I can walk.
While I can dream.
Please let my dream come true...
Right now.
STEVE BINDER Memories...”

Q : How did 'If I Can Dream' come about?

A : Well the Colonel obviously had a lot of problems as the special was progressing.

But I do want to say, in all honesty, that Colonel Parker at any given time in my opinion, could've pulled the plug and gotten rid of me.

He could have fired me in a minute.

I truly believe that and I think as much as he hated the fact that I had
gotten in between him and Elvis,
he respected the fact that he thought something—
he didn't know what but something was happening with this special that was different.


STEVE BINDER … “Memories......”

So you know, all he would do basically is have these personal confrontations.

When he liked me my name was Bindel, B I N D E L. And when I knew it was serious it was always Binder. And he called a meeting every once in awhile with Elvis and myself, where he had a problem with the show.

And one of the things is that he knew there was no Christmas song in the show.

And he had lost the battle long before, that this was not going to be a Christmas show with 'I Believe,'
which Frankie Laine and Perry Como were singing at the end of their shows and so forth,
which is what he wanted, as the closing number of the show.

STEVE BINDER … “Memories...”

So he called me in one day and, with Elvis, and the three of us were in this little water closet that he had called an office.

He always loved playing these games.

He had two William Morris agents, dressed in uniforms, standing out this little tiny literally broom closet which they had cleaned out for him.

And he insisted upon that to be his office.

Well we walked in there and he said, 'Binder it's been called to my attention that you don't plan on having a Christmas song in the show at the end'.

And I said, 'Yes'. And he said 'Well, Elvis wants a Christmas song in the show. Don't you, Elvis?'

And Elvis sort of had his head down and his eyes lowered and he said 'Yes sir'.

And I said 'Fine. If Elvis wants a Christmas song in the show we'll put a Christmas song in the show'.

Steve Binder "Memories" ......

I won't use an expletive but we walked out of the Colonels office, thinking it was resolved

~ and Elvis jabbed me in the ribs
and he said, you know,

'Blank him. We're not gonna worry about that'.

So, I had gotten to know Elvis
pretty well in terms of his philosophy.


One night when we were rehearsing, the television set was on in the other room
and all of a sudden there was this moment of silence.

And I said, 'I think Bobby Kennedys just been shot'.

And we all rushed into the other office and that's exactly what happened.

They had live at the Ambassador Hotel, Kennedy making his speech.

Steve Binder "Memories".......

We were in the piano room at the time, but there was just something weird that evening and I just sensed something had gone wrong.

Then we spent the whole night basically talking about the Kennedy assassination, of both Bobby and John.

And I really liked him. I thought Elvis was one of the nicest, kindest, funny guys I had ever been exposed to.

He may not have been college educated but he was sure street smart and well read.

And, Elvis basically had in those moments of pure honesty, had been saying things that I felt we should say on the air in the special !

Steve Binder... on the Moment the Song was born....

So I went to Earl Brown, our special material writer and choral director, and to Billy Goldenberg and I asked them to disguise it.

I had read an article that in World War Two all the German artists were disguising their art work so, you know, the Nazis would never know what they were saying cause it was too abstract for them.

I said, We're gonna get it passed the Colonel if we just write a speech.

But if we can put it in the lyrics of a song, he's never gonna know what we did'.

So I asked them go home and write a song about the philosophy of what I was hearing from Elvis personally.

That, you know, we're all created equal.

Steve Binder .. remembers..

We all deserve to walk hand in hand with our brothers, and all that stuff.

Then one morning, very early in the morning, I got a phone call from Earl Brown

saying 'I think we did it.

I think you've got your song'.

And so we rushed down to the studio to hear it and Billy Goldenberg played piano and Earl sang 'If I Can Dream'.

And the lead sheet that I was handed had Earl Brown and Billy Goldenberg as the writers of it.

And I said 'Well let's wait till Elvis shows up and we'll play it for him'.

Steve Binder "Heart racing Moment....."

In the meantime Colonel Parker was saying over my dead body
'Are we gonna play that as the last song of the show?'

And I waited for Elvis and Elvis came into the dressing room.

And I ushered him into the piano room and Colonel Parker was in the outer room with Tom Diskin and a few of the RCA people and so forth.

And I could hear them mumbling, you know, their discomfort and not wanting us to do what we were doing.

And we played 'If I Can Dream' for Elvis and Elvis listened to it. He said 'Play it again'.

Steve Binder... "Memories and Moments"

So we went through it again and Elvis said, 'Which I had become accustomed to'.

When Elvis was really making decisions he didn't just want to make rash fast decisions.

He wanted to, you know, absorb it and hear it over and over.

He had Billy and Earl play this song I would say three or four times.

And he looked at me and said, 'Okay I'll do it'.

I said ~ 'You'll do it' and immediately the door burst open....

Contracts were in hand to give away the publishing and so forth for RCA and Elvis publishing company.

Once they realized this is going in the show whether they like it or not.

Steve Binder "the moment IF I CAN DREAM was Born"

And the really great story about this is that when Billy Goldenberg knew that Elvis was gonna sing it, he walked over to the piano.

He took out a pencil and eraser, and he erased his name from the lead sheet, because in reality, Earl Brown had written that song all by himself.

That probably cost Billy Goldenberg a zillion dollars more than six figures in royalties by taking his name off of it.

That's the knid of integrity these guys had.

I mean, I love these guys to this day I'm very, very close to all of them.


Q:What are your memories of being in the studio when Elvis recorded If I Can Dream!

STEVE BINDER ... memories of Recording Session for IF I CAN DREAM..

A: Elvis asked if he could put a vocal down just so he could learn the song.

We had sent all the musicians home and the studio was kind of eerie

with all these empty chairs, music stands, music cases and a drum kit.
23rd JUNE 1968 ~ Elvis getting ready to record his Vocal Track...

for IF I CAN DREAM ! ! !

Steve Binder... on setting up for Elvis' Recording.....

Bones got him a hand mike and I said,

"Why don't we turn out all the lights in the studio so we don't see this vast empty
looking studio the size of a football field.

Let's make it as intimate as we can."

We could barely make Elvis out through the glass from the control room into the studio.
NBC Session ~ 1 or 2 days earlier for Memories etc.,,,

More;... Steve Memories.....

We cued that days backing-track and Elvis starts to sing.
It was magic.

Next thing I know he's curled on the floor in almost a fetal position singing with a microphone next to his mouth.

That brought chills to everyone, the hair on my arms were standing up.

That's the take that we wound up using on the soundtrack album.

Steve on picking the right TAKE ....

But I did not use that one in the TV show because I'm a total believer that if you're doing television I don't want anyone lip-synching,

I want the real thing.

And to be completely honest, as great as the sit-down shows are,

had I been able to get cameras into the dressing room and tape him there, it would have been even greater.

Q: Did Elvis recognize the significance of what he'd done with the show?

STEVE BINDER... later Memories...

A: I found out years later from Priscilla that Elvis knew that this show was special and important.

He sensed it from day one.

I'm positive that he took on The Colonel all the time while we were doing the show.

There were so many confrontations between me and The Colonel that, every day, I expected to get fired.

STEVE BINDER (Final Memories...)

And it never happened and I'm convinced that it never happened because Elvis,

in no uncertain terms, told The Colonel, "Hands off, I'm doing this and Steve has to stay."

It was the No 1 show of the year and to this day it's one of the highest rated shows in the history of NBC.

It got a 42 per cent share, which is huge.

Literally half of the population of the entire country was watching the show.

(sad but THE END...)
W. EARL BROWN “If I Can Dream”

EARL ~ has had songs recorded by Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Cher and The Jacksons

Yet W. Earl Brown’s extraordinary “If I Can Dream” is the centerpiece of his career.

It was the soul stirring closer of Elvis’s historic ‘68 Comeback Special television show

and heralded Presley’s resurrection as a serious recording artist.


W. EARL BROWN “If I Can Dream”

“They wanted to close the show with a song of peace, hope and brotherhood-a message song.

‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ by Sam Cooke was the kind of song I wanted to write.

And I thought that if Elvis doesn’t record it, I’ll give it to Aretha Franklin.

W. EARL BROWN “If I Can Dream”

So one night at my place in Sherman Oaks, California,

I wrote the song while looking out the window at the garden,
with the sun coming in and thinking how much I mean it, how much I felt.

This was not a hack job. I really believed in the song so much.

‘If I Can Dream’ came quickly, both words and music.

I didn’t even sit at the piano; it just came to me.

I quickly scribbled it out on manuscript paper.

It just unfolded. I didn’t think about form.

It was a very inspired and pure song.

W. EARL BROWN “If I Can Dream”

“I took it in the next morning, and Billy Goldenberg played the piano while I sang it

for Bob Finkel [the producer] and Steve Binder [the director].

They loved it.

From the other room I heard Colonel Parker say,

‘That ain’t Elvis’s kind of song.’

Then from behind me I heard, ‘I’d like to try it, man.’

I didn’t know that Elvis had been standing in the doorway and had heard it.

(a slightly different version of the Events.. strange how you end up remembering "A DREAM")


W. EARL BROWN “If I Can Dream”

The next thing I know I find myself at Western Recorders and Elvis is recording it and -

....The Blossoms have tears running down their faces.

Darlene Love said to me,

‘He really loves the song.

He really believes in the song and means every word of it.’

“There was such a sense of excitement in the air with Elvis doing the Comeback special.


W. EARL BROWN “If I Can Dream”

He had done his concert in the little boxing ring with the kids all around.

When he began to sing ‘If I Can Dream’ at the end of the show,

you could feel something in the air.

It was truly electric. I’m not being dramatic…it really was.

“I still have my original handwritten lyrics for ‘If I Can Dream.

Up in the left corner Elvis wrote, ‘My boy, my boy-this could be the one!’

Because he hadn’t had a hit in nine years, and it was.” couldn't Dream up this stuff.. telling it like it really was...

Stunning pics rex...steve binder did a great job with elvis on the 68 special... elvis trusted him 100pcent!

elvislady thumbup.gif
great thread again Rex. "If I can Dream" is one of Elvis best numbers ever, and I belive it's a very specail song to Elvis fans no matter if they like "Rock Elvis", "country Elvis", balldad/pop/blues etc. etc. This was and is a epic song of hope .
I LOVE the thread. thumbsup.gif Sure wish ELVIS would have found the strength to sass back to the Colonel a little more often. ELVIS would have been better off if he had.
I remember after watching the special on tv....(I was 21 at the time)....and thinking....
" ELVIS is BACK!!!!!!!" woohoo.gif
The ultimate perfect song for Elvis. A stunning vocal performance..... i doubt that anyone EVER would be able to perform that song in the same way Elvis did. I do think the guy might want to do a tad more revision on Elvis though... tongue.gif ...wasn't quite nine years since he had a hit....but we can forgive that for the wonderful song he had written. notworthy.gif

Magnificent Song in the spotlight Rex ! notworthy.gif notworthy.gif
colonel snow
A high light in Elvis' singing career.

colonel snow
QUOTE (colonel snow @ Feb 7 2010, 10:46 AM) *
...A highlight in Elvis' singing career....colonel snow..

Many thanks Colonel Snow - a turning point in Elvis' career, starting with Guitar Man, then "DREAM" and the amazing Suspicious Minds and In the Ghetto.
I also remember just before IF I CAN DREAM .. getting TIGER MAN on the Singer Presents Album.. Great times for Elvis fans.


Single: IF I CAN DREAM / EDGE OF REALITY sent out to retailers on the 5th November.

Released just a month in advance of the NBC Special broadcast.
With the Special being shown on the 3rd December,
Sales climb dramatically, cresting at something like 800,000 units ~
the single surprisingly fails to make the USA Top Ten, peaking at Number #12

The '68 Special Album with the Closing IF I CAN DREAM is shipped on 22nd November.
It sells over Half a Million copies through that Xmas period, peaking at Number # 8


"The contract for the ‘Comeback Special’, according to a June 13th William Morris Agency memo,
stated that Steve Binder & Bones Howe would be responsible for the writers,
choral director, choreographers, and musical conductor/arranger. …

The Colonel phoned me back and personally gave me his word of honor that there
would definitely be no RCA song or soundtrack album released from the television special
so we had nothing to worry about.

Fred phoned me to back up the Colonel's conversation.

I was very naive and took the Colonel and the William Morris Agency at their word.
We all know The Colonel could be pretty slick.... whistling.gif
QUOTE (SweetCaroline @ Feb 8 2010, 03:55 AM) *
We all know The Colonel could be pretty slick.... whistling.gif

They did get the Colonel back afterwards ... in a fun sort of way.. giving the Colonel a slight Headache...(?)


Here's the kicker, before the special had even started production,
the Colonel made a deal with NBC to turn over the audiotapes from the special to RCA without charge.

A deal that would have amounted to millions of dollars in music rights.

Elvis got a free album out of the budget of the television special.

And after the special was delivered to NBC, the Colonel mailed to my home a $1,500 cheque along with an agreement for me to sign waiving all my legal rights to the soundtrack and congratulating me on the release of the album.

Instead of signing the agreement, I sent the unsigned check back to the Colonel with a short note telling him where he could put it.

To this day, Bones or I have never received one penny from the soundtrack earnings."

30th June 1968 - Clapperboard - TAKE ONE

Yes were dressed in White today Tom...and its Purity.... Take 915.

Waiting to the music to start

First word of the Song

TAKE ONE – Breakdown (just one line)

There must be lights burning brighter somewhere. Ohh.. no... Pheww.(whistles) look....

Elvis feeling frustrated with Himself....

This Screen shot.. Elvis with Just emergency Lights on, all the main camera Lights oFf...


SNAP...! ! !

Waiting for Intro for Take 2

Opening Moments....

There must be lights...

...burning brighter somewhere.

notworthy.gif notworthy.gif notworthy.gif

Thanks REX biggrin.gif biggrin.gif
Great shots Rex !

Love watching this DVD, awesome !! notworthy.gif

TAKE 2. 30th June '68 ~ IF I CAN DREAM

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