1968 If I Can Dream


Elvis wore these boots in the closing number of the show "If I Can Dream" one of the greatest moments in Entertainment history.

Accompanied by a Elvis Presley Museum certificate of authenticity hand signed by Jimmy Velvet, Elvis' friend of 22 years and who was the founder and president of the world famous Elvis Presley Museum.

Accompanied by a hand signed Letter of Authenticity from Charlie Hodge which reads:

For Whom this may concern:
I first met Elvis when I was with a group called the Foggy Mountain River Boys. Elvis and I met again when Elvis was going to Germany for the army. Elvis was my good friend and I lived at Graceland in a converted garage apartment Elvis made for me and lived there until his passing in 1977. I was Elvis
' stage director and sang harmony on stage with him and handed Elvis his scarves. I also helped him with the set lists for the shows. I also appeared as an extra in many of his films.

These white verde brand boots are the boots that Elvis wore on stage on his 1968 NBC tv special. He wore these in the closing number of the show "If I can Dream" while he was wearing a white suit. Elvis later gave me these boots.

(Hand signed) Charlie Hodge

Charlie Hodge appeared with Elvis on his 1968 NBC tv special.

Elvis Presley's two piece white suit is owned by Graceland. (Graceland had to negotiate and eventually purchased back the two piece white suit as it was not in their archives at that time)

A truly historic piece.

"If I Can Dream" was a tribute song to Martin Luther King, Jr. written by Walter Earl Brown, notable for its direct quotations from Dr. King. Now that Elvis had wrapped shooting for Live a Little, Love a Little, he was recording songs for his upcoming Singer Television Special, to be broadcast on television that December. When the song was first presented to Elvis, the TV special's producer, Steve Binder, was worried and thought it would surely be rejected. He wanted to include it, but the show was ostensibly to be a Christmas special, and "If I Can Dream" was not a Christmas song. Binder found Elvis and played it for him in his dressing room. "Let me hear it again," said Elvis. The song was played 7 or 8 times and Elvis finally said, "Okay, I'll do it."

On June 23rd, Elvis recorded "If I Can Dream" in several incredibly passionate takes. To Binder, his performance was so staggering as to seem almost like a religious experience. Out on the floor with a hand mike, Elvis fell to his knees. For a moment, he felt like he was back in church, singing the Gospel songs of his youth.

Not everyone was prepared for such a visceral performance: "The string players sat there with their mouths open. They had never seen anything like this." But the more astonishing performance came when the producers sent everyone home and Elvis re-recorded the vocals - in the dark.

Binder sat motionless, afraid to move as Elvis lost himself in the song. Once again, he fell to his knees. But this time, with the lights out, Elvis assumed a fetal position, writhing around on the cement floor. Then, after three more takes, all with the lights out, Elvis got up and walked into the control room.
Elvis sat in rapt attention as he asked Binder to play the song back to him. After listening to the song fifteen times, Elvis was finally satisfied and gave his O.K. Elvis was so affected by the song, he said, "I'll never sing another song I don't believe in. I'm never going to make another movie I don't believe in."

Priscilla Ann Beaulieu (Presley's) words:

"I can't think of a greater song to sing for the ending of the show, i mean it was brilliant, a match made in heaven. It was everything that he believed in. When he sang this song and you watch him singing this song you lived it and breathed it with him. It was an emotional song but he sang it with such, such passion, you could hear a pin drop an you look around the audience they were captivated by him."

Some Elvis songs are still so fresh, so moving, they can be hard to listen to. And for me, the one song that still gives me goosebumps because of the power of the performance and the song's personal relevance to the King is If I Can Dream. It's widely known that the song almost never happened. Steve Binder producer of the1968 NBC TV Special that resurrected Elvis' career, was so desperate to avoid ending the show with a Christmas song - as the Colonel suggested - that he told Earl Brown, in charge of the vocal arrangements, 'Write me the greatest song you ever wrote'.

When the going gets tough, the tough get creative and Brown did pretty much what Binder had ordered. If I Can Dream was, after In The Ghetto, the most socially conscious song Elvis ever recorded. Binder had been impressed by Elvis' despair when Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated and, for him, the song had another message: 'I wanted the world to know that here was a man who was raised in prejudice but was above all that'. The song's very title resonated with the 'I Have A Dream' speech given by Martin Luther King, in 1963. King, of course, had also been assassinated - in Memphis - only months before the TV special was filmed.

Parker, like most show biz traditionalists, believed that messages were best left to Western Union. But Binder was inspired by the implicit liberalism in Elvis' remarkable rags to riches story. As a boy, teenager, man and singer, he had dared to cross the racial divide, showing an openness that inspired Peter Guralnick and countless others. And the hope for a land 'where all my brothers walk hand in hand' reflected the liberal impulse that was at the heart of Elvis' story. Elvis had proved, to turn a bit Biblical, that the last could be the first. And here he was, in song, hoping that this could come true for everybody.

The song's lyric was also uniquely personal to Elvis. His very life story seemed to prove Brown's point that 'as long as a man has the strength to dream he can redeem his soul… and fly'. Tragically, sometime in the next nine years, Elvis lost the strength to dream.

The personal, social and philosophical relevance of this song may explain why Elvis sings it, from the very start, as if his life depends on it. This is, as Greil Marcus said, music that bleeds. Elvis sings with the fervour of southern gospel and, at times, the echoes between his vocal and the backing singers, almost feels like the interaction between a minister and a choir.

And then there's the voice. In three minutes and ten seconds, Elvis' vocal offers us a remarkable blend of anger, compassion, humility, authority, urgency, gravitas and passionate concern. When he sings 'There must be peace and understanding some times', he is actually lecturing us, underlining our responsibility to dream of a better world. But he does so with such fragility, humility and concern, the lecture isn't offensive or arrogant. It is almost as if Elvis is rebuking us - and himself.

The song has been much covered but no one has matched Elvis. Few voices have the power, variety and charisma the song demands. Elvis sings as if his dream is our dream, so his lament is universal. Most of the cover versions - even Celine Dion's - don't have the same universality.

The song was later sung, as an ode to God, by the American jazz/gospel/blues Della Reese on the US TV series 'Touched By An Angel'. Reese's version of After Loving You was one of the records Elvis played a lot at Graceland in the 1960s, finally recording it at the remarkable Memphis sessions.

At the finale of the song, Elvis raises his arms, almost in a crucifixion pose, as if the song has drained the very essence of his being, Watching the versions on the DVD of the special, you can see how much he put into this - and how much he took out of it. Above all, you get a glimpse of what Jerry Schilling tried to describe when he watched the 1966 gospel sessions and felt that, as Elvis sang How Great Thou Art, that something mysterious was happening to his friend: 'as if his inner being was leaving his body'.

The sadness, forty and a half years on, is that Elvis is not with us to dream and redeem his soul and that we seem as far away from a land where mankind walks hand in hand as we ever were.
Paul Simpso


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 answers, answers 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, oh please let my dream
Come true, oh......right now
Let it come true right now
Oh yeah

Music video by Elvis Presley performing If I Can Dream (audio). (C) 2015 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment