Sad songs no 11. In the Ghetto – Elvis Presley

ELVIS-1969-elvis-presley-7905477-408-558I was going to put American Trilogy – my favourite Elvis track – on the list, because it’s sad and uplifting in equal measure. But really, you can’t get away from In the Ghetto. When it was a hit in 1969 it was on very heavy rotation in our house. When Elvis died, my mother came home red-eyed from the sweet factory where she was working, and said they’d played In the Ghetto on the radio, and she hadn’t stopped crying since. There’s a lot of social consciousness songs from the late 60s/early 70s, it’s a little sub-genre that I really love, and this is the best of the lot. Great, unflinching lyrics about poverty engendering crime, a lovely melody and Elvis’s gorgeous mature voice… It was so surprising that he came out with a song like this, and I don’t think he ever really topped it.

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