“I want everyone to know what I can really do”
-Quote from Elvis before the performance, 1968
Elvis had become tired of the films he was creating, but he did not believe in what he was doing. Yet he was wanting to go back to making music and touring, Elvis was afraid of what the fans would think. The Colonel made a deal with NBC to make a Christmas Special to be aired during the Christmas season 1968. The deal was negotiated for $1,250,000 in order to finance the television special and the film Change Of Habit. The production company wanted more for the special and wanted to help relaunch Elvis’s career. As a result, writers were hired to create a script for the show and help Elvis comeback from the films he had created.
That’s All Right (Mama)
Binder, the producer, was flexible to the direction of the show and Elvis was more than happy to offer suggestions. The special would be a representation of Elvis’s journey with music. The Colonel was not happy about the approach but continued with the production. If I Can Dream fell into Elvis’s hands and the Colonel hated the song. He did not want a “hippie” song on the show, but Elvis pressed on with the pursuit of completing the song. The entire experience got Elvis excited for touring and possibly touring in Europe.
And just for fun, I’m including these because I just love Elvis.
After rehearsals for the segments, Elvis and the other musicians would unwind by jamming out. Binder had the idea to do live segments for the show. “That’s when I really got the idea: Wouldn’t it be great if I had a camera in here and they didn’t know I was here?” It was said that Elvis was nervous about performing live again, but after much support, he went along for the ride. There were two sessions of the live performance, June 24th and June 25th.
Elvis feared the audience would not accept him back and not know who he was. Nerves almost got the best of Elvis and he almost backed out completely. Somehow he was convinced to walk out on stage. He was cool, confidence, and most importantly back. During the first performance, Priscilla was in the audience and Elvis sang Love Me Tender to her and jokingly messed up the lyrics.
Love Me Tender
The special was broadcasted December 3rd and was the highest-rated television special of the year. It was profitable and critics felt the special revitalized his career. Elvis began recording some of his best music after the special and felt inspired to record. Just after this, The Colonel had Elvis sign a contract to perform in Las Vegas. This tore apart the dream Elvis had of touring overseas, but his career was becoming something he would be very proud of. The best way to appreciate the ’68 Comeback Special is to just watch it and see Elvis shine.
If I Can Dream