In the Ghetto

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Rating: 4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars
Words & Music: Scott 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


marty (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 17, 2020report abuse
When I was growing up in Greece I used to make lists of my favorite Elvis songs and "In The Ghetto" would always be in the top ten. While English is not my mother tongue, I could understand the lyrics well but it was the melody and his voice that drew me to this song. The undubbed studio version is also remarkable but his live versions are not as good and feel rather rushed. Some events of the year seem to resonate with the message of the song. For me this song is not so much about poverty or color, it is about the effects of a bad environment to a young child and as such can be appreciated regardless of someones political views. Five stars from me.
TheMemphisFan (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 8, 2015report abuse
Over the years this has become one of my least favorite songs. Lyrics should've been - "He steals a gun, steals a car..."
It's too bad that this song is included on the new "If I Can Dream" Elvis project with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (October 2015). It's high time that black Americans stop blaming society for their problems and start taking personal responsibility for their careless decisions and actions. I fully agree with Dr. Benjamin Carson's intelligent way of thinking and reasoning on such issues. He would make a fabulous President for the United States Of America!
sugartummy (profilecontact) wrote on Mar 15, 2013report abuse
Never one of my favourites, but when I heard a "naked" version, I appriciated it a lot more. Elvis himself doubted if he should use the female background vocals, but in the end decided to go for them. A pity.
Great Dane (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 20, 2013report abuse
This is a good song but give me the B-side any day of the week.
4 stars.
GEORGE (GK) (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 20, 2013report abuse
I too, wish, Elvis, had continued to work with Chips Moman, after 1969. I Love everything Elvis, recorded, with Chips and the studio musicians, in Memphis, and, "In the Ghetto" was just one, of many great songs, recorded there. I keep hoping that someone at RCA Records, will find, some "lost recordings" from the Memphis sessions, because of the great material that came from these recording sessions.
ElvisSacramento (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 21, 2013report abuse
This is such a spectacular and unique song and Elvis easily has the very best renditions of it. It rightfully was a massive hit for Elvis worldwide and it was written by Mac Davis. The other six songs that Elvis recorded that were written or co-written by Mac Davis are "Don't Cry Daddy", "Memories", "A Little Less Conversation", "Clean Up Your Own Back Yard", "Charro!" and "Nothingville".
Gorse (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 5, 2012report abuse
Yep, an absolute classic, a message song conveyed with every ounce of emotion the man could give in under 3 minutes.
I equally enjoy take 3, a magnificent stripped down version.
TCB1974 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2011report abuse
This is one of those recordings that is so strong that it is timeless and will still be known many years from now. Definitely 5 stars from me, Elvis at his very best.
jack409 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2011report abuse
ELVIS did a string of message songs in the late 60s and early 70s. "In The Ghetto" remains one his his greatest performances. The song was recorded in 2007 by Lisa Marie Presley as a duet to raise money for the Presley Foundation. The song was released on iTunes, it reached #1 on iTunes in the US. After Elvis Presley, the song has been performed by many other artists. Among them were, most notably, Sammy Davis Jr., Susan Cadogan, Candi Staton, Dolly Parton, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Cranberries, Merle Haggard, Leatherface, Three Six Mafia, Skrewdriver, DNX vs. The Voice, Ghetto People feat. L-Viz, Frank Flynn, Natalie Merchant, Bad Lieutenant and Fair Warning. The KLF used a sample of the Elvis recording in their ambient DJ album Chill Out. Mac Davis recorded a version of the song for a greatest hits album released in 1979.
Lpool kid (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2011report abuse
one of elvis's greatest if not the greatest song he ever recorded.the power,the emotion,no has ever captured this song like he did.a definate 5 stars.
Pedro Nuno (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2011report abuse
Eternal! Brilliant! Unique!
bajo (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 18, 2011report abuse
What is there to add which has not already been said about this beautiful classic. Again a song and Elvis in a class of their own. Both In The Ghetto and From Elvis In Memphis went to #1 here in Norway in 1969. Elvis never captured the same emotion in his live rendition. Almost like two different songs. I never really liked the Vegas arrangement to In The Ghetto.
derekd (profilecontact) wrote on Mar 28, 2010report abuse
Elvis at his peak (again). Just as he was with Heartbreak, Jailhouse, Now or Never, Burning Love. And the rest. No one comes near.
shoesuedeblues (profilecontact) wrote on Mar 28, 2010report abuse
Why oh why didn't Elvis stick with Chips Moman? Moman saw the capabilities of Elvis' talent and range that no other producer had been able to see since the Sun days. Hence recordings such as this and the other gems cut at the American Sound Studio in Memphis.
Deano1 (profilecontact) wrote on Mar 28, 2010report abuse
While not a song I listen to a lot (I have to be in the mood for this type of song), this one is a beautifully sung song with exceptional lyrics. A five star performance on a five star LP ("From Elvis In Memphis"). I think Elvis quit doing this song in concerts after 1970 due to the content of the song. He wanted his concerts to be happy events and even though he sang sad love songs, this songs tragic lyrics and Elvis' rendering of them is heart-wrenching beyond lost love.
Ruthie (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 26, 2008report abuse
Of course, it's a wonderful song but I like the other side, Any Day Now, just as much.
ger (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 26, 2008report abuse
you should get the remiexd version by Lee it's outsanding
NONE000000 (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 26, 2008report abuse
One of Elvis' best! Those undubbed studio versions are phenomenal! As far as the "message", because of the sincerity in Elvis' voice, everything he sang felt like a message. He had the ability to convey emotion better than any singer that ever lived. Whether it was a love song or gospel or whatever. I do not feel that this song is any more "political" than "If I Can Dream", another of Elvis' most heartfelt songs. It is hard to imagine a human being not liking this song--unless they just do not like music period. Beautiful, beautiful song perfectly sung by the man who proved over and over again why the title "King" was bestowed upon him.
JimmyCool (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 26, 2008report abuse
One word: Timeless!
Natha (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 26, 2008report abuse
This is one of the (many) great highlights of Elvis' career. At the time it was a shocking surprise that he did this song. I recall my brother, being steeped in the music of that time and always argueing about 'Elvis not writing and singing his own songs', being swept off his feet by this song. After that he really appreciated Elvis and did let go of his argument. As globally not so much has changed, this is a reminder we should hear more often.
Elvis Rimes (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 26, 2008report abuse
Elvis did not sing many more powerful songs than this. Legendary.
marco31768 (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 2, 2008report abuse
A masterpiece !
GEORGE (GK) (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 23, 2008report abuse
"In the Ghetto", without a doubt, is one of the best in the Elvis catalog. And the flip side "Any Day Now" is another great performance! (which got "lost" in the shuffle, because the "A" side, was such a strong song.) It should have been released, as an "A" side at a later date). I wish more of the "Memphis recordings" had been released as singles such as "Power of My Love" "Wearing that Loved on Look", " Only the Strong Survive".. etc. All very strong performances !!!
JerryNodak (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
A great song. A top notch vocal. A song that resonates as much today as it did back in '69. A classic. The flip side? Never cared for it.
Volker Stockel (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
what a great song, what a great voice. In The Ghetto had a 13 week stay in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart where it reached up to number 3, in the US country chart number 60 and recieved platinum. In the UK it climbed up to Number 2 and in Germany it becam a number 1 hit.
Rob Wanders (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
Superb. specially the early (undubbed) studio-takes.
theoldscudder (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
A landmark performance. Surprising it was ever released what with the Col. probably wetting his pants over this great song. Bravo Elvis.
old shep (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
1969 was a great year for Elvis and this is the song that really turned his career around.Having said this I very seldom play the track prefering the B side Any day Now
FLASHBOY (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
The studio version is magical and Elvis sing it with such love and passion the live version is another thing.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
This was really the song that brought Elvis back to the charts in the amazing year of 1969. Many non-Elvis fans love this song and Suspicious Minds so Chips & Elvis must have been doing something right at American. Fantastic controlled performance with Elvis sounding ever so soulful. The studio versions are dyanamic. The live versions , like most songs Elvis sang live, are rushed and lack the soul & depth of the song. Yes I feel he stopped singing it live because of its 'message'.
dressingroomrehearsa (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
Well, I consider the studio version(s) as the best approach and performances. I kinda never understood the vegas versions, sometimes combined with "Walk A Mile...". I always missed the fervor of the studio version. Or let's say, I somehow cannot imagine Elvis recording it at the American studios, being aware of the context of the song and then perform it for a Dinner Show audience in Vegas. It kinda kills the song. Message songs back then were en vogue and Elvis had his share. As I remember his reply during the MSG press conference: "An enterntainer is one thing, a human being is another." Does somenone know any reasons why he didn't do the song beyond 1971/72?
JLpResLey (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
A good one, but never one of my favorites. The non-elvis fans likes In the ghetto. I don´t know why. He didn´t sing the song live for a very long time, I don´t know how many live versions there was after 1970, but not that many. Why? Maybe because of the political message. And Elvis Presley was not a political artist. He didn´t want to affect his fans in that way, like others artists did. And the live versions was not that good either
Jim says hello (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
I've always thought this was his finest vocal performance. The control, the timbre, the subtle Elvis vibrato... and even better raw, before the overdubs.
My boy, my boy (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 22, 2008report abuse
A VERY good song. A catchy one explains a little bit why even the non-fans like it also ! It was another new path to explore for Elvis and he once again succeeded ! The live version on TTWII is amazing as well...but without Lisa's voice ! I must admit though that I enjoyed watching the performance she gave on Oprah a year ago with the choir and everything !
Elvisonmymind (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 24, 2008report abuse
How could Elvis pick up this song to sing? (Ah, what the heck, nobody is perfect). Why do everyone, particularly, the non-Elvis fans, like this song? Because of the message?

Available Alternate Versions