In the early 1970s, the King of Rock and Roll performed "In The Ghetto" to a packed audience. Posted to Youtube by Ramonda, a full-color video shows Elvis Presley in his signature hairstyle and jumpsuit. Elvis sings with a fabulous group of back-up singers who, together, make the song come to life. The song was originally recorded on the 1969 album, "From Elvis in Memphis," according to Song Facts. The highly emotional song tells the story of a young child, born into poverty, who has trouble overcoming the circumstances into which he was born. He eventually falls to a life of crime and dies.
Written by Songwriter Hall of Fame member Mac Davis, "In The Ghetto" is a social message that uses a personal story about someone Davis knew growing up in Lubbock, Texas, according to SongFacts. The song was originally titled "The Vicious Circle," but was changed when the word "ghetto" grew in popularity in the late 1960s to describe impoverished parts of town.
During the 2012 Country Music Hall of Fame, Davis explained, the Civil Rights Movement inspired him to write "In The Ghetto." According to the Elvis History Blog, Elvis avoided songs with political messages. But he felt differently about "In The Ghetto." "[Elvis] was convinced of the sincerity of its message, and felt strongly about the issue," said record executive Ernst Jorgensen.
"In The Ghetto" has double sentimental value, according to the Elvis History Blog. Not only is are the lyrics deeply affecting, but the implications the song had for Elvis' career were monumental. At the time, Elvis was transitioning from a lackluster career as a Hollywood actor back to his reign as the King of Rock and Roll. According to the Elvis History Blog, "In The Ghetto," was the "comeback" Elvis needed to revive his career.
This video shows just how emotional the song was for Elvis.