In The Ghetto
Words & Music by Mac Davis
As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama cries
'cause if there's one thing that she don't need
it's another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto
People, don't you understand
the child needs a helping hand
or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me,
are we too blind to see,
do we simply turn our heads
and look the other way
Well the world turns
and a hungry little boy with a runny nose
plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto
And his hunger burns
so he starts to roam the streets at night
and he learns how to steal
and he learns how to fight
In the ghetto
Then one night in desperation
a young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car,
tries to run, but he don't get far
And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man
face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto
As her young man dies,
on a cold and gray Chicago mornin',
another little baby child is born
In the ghetto
Recorded: 1969/01/20, first released on single
A lot of Elvis Presley songs were written especially for him, but according to Mac Davis, Presley's 1969 hit, In the Ghetto, was not such a song. Mac Davis commented, 'I never really dreamed of pitching that song to Elvis. I had been working on In the Ghetto for several years. I grew up playing with a little boy in Lubbock, Texas, whose family lived in a dirt street ghetto. His dad and my dad worked in construction together. So that little boy and I sort of grew up together. I never understood why his family had to live where they lived while my family lived where we lived. Of course back in those days, the word 'ghetto' hadn't come along yet. But I always wanted to write a song about that situation and title it 'The Vicious Circle'.
In The Ghetto Single Record Label. RCA UK.
I thought that if you were born in that place and that situation, then you grow up there and one day you die there, and another kid is born there that kind of replaces you. And later I started thinking about the ghetto as a title for the song. In the meantime, Freddy Weller had showed me a guitar lick he had been playing. I liked the lick and went home one night and used that guitar lick and wrote that song'. 'I didn't write the song for anyone in particular, but later while I was working on an album in Memphis, Chips Moman called me and said Elvis was recording and asked me if I had any songs for him. So I sent him a tape with 19 songs on it and Elvis recorded the first three songs on the tape, In the Ghetto, Don't Cry Daddy and another song they never released titled Poor Man's Gold. A lot of people have asked me about Elvis talking to me about In the Ghetto. I don't think we ever had a conversation about that song ... either before or after he recorded it'. In the Ghetto made it to No. 3 on the pop music charts and scored in the top 50 on the country charts in 1969.
In The Ghetto Single record cover.
In The Ghetto -- Mono Sample - (02:52) (The original mono single sound)
Audio courtesy of Elvis Presley MP3 Central
|From Elvis In Memphis LP 1969|
|Elvis Back In Memphis LP|
|Elvis Presley 1969|
Elvis has been doing all of his recording work in Nashville or Hollywood since signing with RCA. But, now he records in Memphis again for the first time since 1955. He has all-night marathon sessions at American Sound Studio.
His work here will become regarded as some of the finest music of his career, his best work since the innovative days at Sam Phillip's Sun Records and the exciting early days at RCA before he went into the army.
Inspired and invigorated by the success of his television special, Elvis walked through the door of the tiny American Sound Studios in Memphis in January 1969 to make quality music that would garner him hit records. Elvis had not recorded in his hometown since he left Sun in 1955, but the musical atmosphere at RCA's Nashville studios had become stale.
His friends and associates encouraged him to record at American Sound because Nashville would yield nothing for him at this time.
American Sound Studios, a small studio in a rundown neighborhood, was operated by Chips Moman. With Moman as producer, Elvis worked hard to record his first significant mainstream album in years.
In retrospect, From Elvis in Memphis may be his most important album because it brought his recording career back from soundtrack purgatory and set a creative standard for the next few years.
Elvis has excellent material to choose from and pours his heart and soul into the sessions. He works with a lot of top-notch Memphis musicians. The sound is fresh and gutsy. On every track one can sense his creative excitement and energy. This is joyful work after years of movie boredom.
Two albums albums From Elvis In Memphis & Back In Memphis will result from these sessions. The sessions will also yield four hit singles to be released starting later this year - 1969 - and going into 1970: 'In the Ghetto', 'Suspicious Minds', 'Don't Cry, Daddy' and 'Kentucky Rain'.
January 13, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
January 14, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
Come Out Come Out (Wherever You Are) (Fast - Track) XPA5 1144-02
Memory Revival (Slow - Track) XPA5 1144-04
Wearin' That Loved On Look XPA5 1145-15
You'll Think Of Me XPA5 1146-23
A Little Bit Of Green XPA5 1148-03
January 15, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
January 16, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
January 20, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
January 21, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
In The Ghetto XPA5 1154-23
My Little Friend (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1153-NA
Inherit The Wind (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1151-NA
Mama Liked The Roses (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1152-NA
Mama Liked The Roses (Harmony - Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1152-NA
I'm Movin' On (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1147-NA
Long Black Limousine (Vocal Repair) XPA5 1142-NA
Don't Cry Daddy (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1149-NA
Don't Cry Daddy (Harmony - Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1149-NA
Poor Man's Gold (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1150-01
Wearin' That Loved On Look (Vocal Repair) XPA5 1145-NA
You'll Think Of Me (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1146-NA
This Is The Story (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1143-NA
From A Jack To A King XPA5 1158-05
January 22, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
Hey Jude XPA5 1157-07
In The Ghetto (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1154-NA
January 23, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
February 17, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
Stranger In My Own Home Town XPA5 1266-01
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road XPA5 1265-03
This Time / I Can't Stop Loving You (Informal Jam) WPA5 2513-01
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road XPA5 1265-11
February 18, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
February 19, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
February 20, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
February 21, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
February 22, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
Any Day Now (Vocal Repair) XPA5 1274-NA
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road (Harmony - V.O.) XPA5 1265-NA
Power Of My Love (Harmony - Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1268-NA
Do You Know Who I Am? (Harmony - Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1270-NA
Who Am I? XPA5 1278-01
March 5, 1969 Decca Universal Studio - Universal City, California
March 5, Elvis returns to Hollywood to film and record the soundtrack music for his thirty-first, and what will turn out to be his last, acting role in a motion picture. It is Change of Habit, co-starring Mary Tyler Moore. Elvis plays a hip ghetto doctor in a Northern city, having come from Tennessee. Mary Tyler Moore and two others play nuns who go 'undercover' into the ghetto to assist with health and societal troubles in the community. The theme, though serious and timely, is not particularly well carried out by the script in the opinion of many, and the title is frivolous. But, Elvis looks magnificent, and gives a natural, easy, understated performance that is a refreshing pleasure to see after the silliness he endured in his films through most of the sixties. The few songs in the movie are good and they're performed in natural, rather than the usual badly contrived, situations.
March 6, 1969 Decca Universal Studio - Universal City, California
March, 1969, Charro! opens in theaters and doesn't do much at the box office.
September 26, 1969 RCA Studio A - Nashville, Tennessee
Let Us Pray (Vocal Replacement) ZPA4 1957-05
A Little Bit Of Green (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1148-NA
A Little Bit Of Green (Harmony - Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1148-NA
And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1267-NA
International. Hotel, Las Vegas, Nv July 1969
Starting July 31, Elvis is booked for a four-week, fifty-seven show engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, which has just been built and has the largest showroom in the city. Elvis puts together top-notch rock and roll musicians, an orchestra, a male gospel back-up group, and a black female soul/gospel back-up group for his show. They rehearse for several weeks and open on July 31, 1969. The show is a delightful mix of fresh arrangements of classic Elvis hits, exciting new material he has recorded, a few covers of current and past hits of other artists, and charming on-stage antics and sharing of personal recollections of his career. A press conference follows the first of his two opening night shows.
This engagement breaks all existing Las Vegas attendance records and attracts rave reviews from the public and the critics. It is a triumph. Elvis' first live album, Elvis in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, is recorded during this engagement and is soon released. For these shows a lean Elvis in top physical form, wears simple, unique, karate-inspired two-piece outfits in black or white. These are designed by Bill Belew, who did the wardrobe for the ‘68 special. These are the predecessors to the famous one-piece jumpsuits which will be simple at first, then become flashier and more elaborate over the years.