Elvis, and Martin Luther King

When Martin Luther King died, Elvis Presley was devastated- along with everyone else.  He was scheduled to perform a few days later, and he was troubled.  He stayed up all night and wrote a song, and sang it instead of his scheduled performance.  Wow.

I saw the new Elvis movie, I was incredibly moved at this part of the movie.  I have always loved this song, now I know the story behind it.

If you have not seen the movie, it is very good.  I’m so glad that Priscilla Presley and their daughter Lisa Marie (before she died) went to the Golden Globes and also watched the movie.

Thank you to Elvis Presley for such a wonderful song.  You carry Martin Luther King’s passion and message, and the rest of us who hear you sing are moved, and inspired.

Music makes the world go round.  I will always bring music to children in my classroom.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Inspiration, music, Peace, Singing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Elvis, and Martin Luther King

  1. willowdot21 says:

    I do think that music is a great teaching aid 💜

  2. beth says:

    I didn’t know about this song, and plan to see the film soon. music is a wonderful teaching method

  3. Darlene says:

    I loved the movie too and this part was especially moving. Elvis will be forever missed.

  4. I greatly enjoyed the movie and encourage others to see it. A fitting song for this day – good choice, Jennie … and cheers to you for incorporating music into your classroom.

    • Jennie says:

      I can’t think of a better tribute to Martin Luther King than this song. It was quite a moving part of the movie for me- I’m glad you liked it. Music is as important as reading and art in the classroom. Thank you, Frank.

  5. Music is a great teacher, and healer. I haven’t seen the movie, but used to love Elvis movies I will add this one to my watchlist.

    • Jennie says:

      You are spot on, Deborah. The movie is good, and nothing like the old Elvis movies. This is more of a story of his life. I was so moved at the song in the movie and the connection with Martin Luther King.

  6. beetleypete says:

    I haven’t seen the new film, but I did enjoy Kurt Russell as Elvis in the old TV film.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      I remember, and Kurt did a great job. I never knew the connection with the song and Martin Luther King. That was a big wow for me. Best to you, Pete.

  7. Don Ostertag says:

    Never knew that connection. Thanks, Jennie. And you like Elvis and you play music for your little ones. I can just imagine the look on the parents’ faces when their child starts sing Heartbreak Hotel.

    • Jennie says:

      I didn’t know the connection, either. It still hasn’t left me. If I would hear the song on the radio, I would have to pull over… Yes, I play all kinds of music for children, but I have not played Elvis…yet. When we prepare for our annual art show, I bring in my record player and albums. Music inspires art. They love Vivaldi and the Beatles. Isn’t that wonderful?

  8. A beautiful tribute to both Elvis and Dr. King, Jennie.

  9. Ellen says:

    I have become a silent follower and therefore I hope that you will forgive my intrusion upon what is a lovely story about the origin of this song. Sadly, contrary to your information, Elvis is not the composer of this song…though, indeed he did magnificently perform it from his heart and soul!
    An NBC show was taped in June of 1968 for a Christmas special to be aired that December which later became known as the ’68 Comeback Special. Elvis manager, Colonel Tom Parker, wanted the show’s finale to be “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. But Elvis was despondent over the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and talked with Steve Binder, the show’s director, about having a different song for the finale. Steve Binder asked the show’s music directors, composer B. Goldenberg and songwriter W. Earl Brown, for a song. They fulfilled the request with this song that became the show’s finale because Elvis loved it, even though Col. Parker did not and felt it was not an “Elvis” song! Elvis recorded the song for the show with “Wrecking Crew Band” and that required several takes due to high emotions by all. If memory serves me correctly, Elvis never performed “If I Can Dream” live. Thank-you for sharing this very beautiful song.
    P.S. Steve Binder published a book in April 0f 2022 titled “Elvis ’68 Comeback : The Story Behind the Special”.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Ellen. You are not intruding at all, and you are right on many details. I wrote the post from watching the movie, and it did seem unclear about who wrote the song. Your information is much more complete, with far more details than the movie could show. In the movie, it appeared that Elvis performed it to a live audience, but that’s Hollywood. Thank you so much for filling in many details. Really. I guess the bottom line is Elvis was devastated by King’s death and wanted to change the song that was scheduled. Thank goodness he did. What a tribute to Martin Luther King.

  10. quiall says:

    I love this song! I did not know the story behind it. If only…

  11. petespringerauthor says:

    Thanks for sharing this story, Jennie. One of the things I enjoy most about blogs is learning about backstories such as this one.

    • Jennie says:

      I feel the same way, Pete. I told John Howell and another blogger that if I heard this song on the radio while driving, now that I know the story, I would have to pull over. If a police officer came by, I would tell the best story in the world.

  12. Carla says:

    Music is definitely a great way to teach children. I saw the Elvis movie and loved it. I did not know what was behind that song either, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      Music is a wonderful teacher. You were like me watching the movie, not knowing what was behind that music. Wow! I can’t get that wonderful song out of my head, now that I know.

  13. CarolCooks2 says:

    Such a beautiful song and a great tribute to Martin Luther King…I haven’t watched the movie but will if I can here and it will be lovely to know the backstory 🙂 x

  14. CarolCooks2 says:

    Absolutely, Jennie and I am big Elvis fan as well 🙂 x

  15. What a perfect memory for this day, Jennie. Thank you.

  16. Pingback: Elvis, and Martin Luther King – MobsterTiger

  17. We lived in Memphis for several months many years ago, and while there visited the site where King was murdered. A sad ending to a truly inspirational life. Elvis certainly understood what King was trying to achieve – he “got it.” Nice tribute here, Jennie.

  18. Thanks for recommending this very interesting film, Jennie! I also haven’t seen it yet, but have to do it soon. xx Michael

  19. srbottch says:

    Beautiful, Jennie. Elvis was my favorite. What a voice. Terrific song.

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