Elvis Presley

In the Ghetto

Composed by Scott "Mac" Davis

Song Review by

Elvis Presley never cut a more explicitly political record than 1969's "In the Ghetto," an empathetic and genuinely moving portrait of the vicious circle of life and death in the nation's slums. Although the setting is urban Chicago and not rural Tupelo, MS, there's no mistaking Elvis' deep connection to the song's tale of poverty and desperation -- after all, it could have been his story had things worked out any differently. A hauntingly lovely, dirge-like ballad rooted in gospel, "In the Ghetto" is by no means a protest song, which is no doubt why it works; as the richest and most famous of all pop icons, Elvis was more distanced from the true inner workings of American life than any of his contemporaries, yet the song's simple yet grimly poetic lyrics (written by a then-unknown Mac Davis) bear no trace of patronizing or pity, just wistful resignation. Accordingly, Elvis invests "In the Ghetto" with perhaps his most tender and compassionate vocal; even more than the record forces listeners to consider the world around them, it seems to reawaken something in the singer himself, taking him back to the life of hardship and hopelessness he left behind not so long ago.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
From Elvis in Memphis 1969 RCA 2:45
Elvis' 50 Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Vol. 1 1970 RCA 2:44
No Image 1970 RCA
No Image 1972 RCA
Elvis Forever [1974] 1974 RCA
50 Years-50 Hits 1976 BMG 2:47
No Image 1978
No Image 1978 RCA
Elvis Aron Presley 1980 RCA 2:38
No Image 1981
No Image 1982 Camden
No Image 1984 RCA
Collection, Vol. 4 1984 RCA
Elvis' Gold Records, Vol. 5 1984 SMG 2:45
No Image 1984 RCA
Sweet Songs 1985 Ariola Express
All Time Greatest Hits 1986 BMG International 2:43
The Memphis Record 1987 RCA 2:46
The Top Ten Hits 1987 RCA 2:45
The Definitive Country Album 1990 RCA
No Image 1993 RCA 2:46
Gold: The Very Best of the King 1995 BMG International 2:47
No Image 1997
Original Cast Recording
RCA 2:49
24 Karat Hits! 1997 Analogue Productions / RCA 2:50
No Image 1998 Time / Life Music
All the Best, Vol. 1-2 1999 BMG International 2:48
Suspicious Minds: The Memphis 1969 Anthology 1999 RCA 2:45
Artist of the Century 1999 RCA 2:46
No Image 1999 RCA 2:45
He Touched Me: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley 1999 RCA 2:36
Elvis 2000 2000 BMG International 2:46
Best of Artist of the Century 2000 RCA 2:46
The 50 Greatest Hits 2000 RCA 2:48
Too Much Monkey Business 2000 Follow That Dream Records
Swedish Hit Collection 2001 BMG International 2:46
No Image 2001 RCA 2:46
Today, Tomorrow & Forever 2002 RCA 3:07
Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits 2002 RCA 3:05
Elvis by the Presleys 2005 BMG / BMG Heritage 2:47
Hitstory 2005 Sony Music Distribution 2:59
Elvis #1 Singles 2006 RCA / Sony BMG 2:48
Elvis Inspirational 2006 Sony BMG / RCA 2:47
The Essential Elvis Presley [RCA/Sony BMG] 2007 RCA 2:57
Elvis 75 2009 Legacy / RCA / Sony Legacy 2:48
I Am an Elvis Fan 2012 Legacy / RCA 2:48
60s: Elvis Presley 2014 BMG / Sony Music Entertainment 2:57
50 Australian Top Ten Hits 1956-1977 Sony Music Entertainment 2:58
Elvis by Request: The Australian Fan Edition Sony Music Distribution 2:57