Few names stand out as strongly in the rich fabric of American music history as Elvis Presley. Elvis was the epitome of rock ‘n’ roll, with a voice that could break hearts and a stage presence that roused crowds to hysteria. “In The Ghetto,” one of his most enduring and socially significant compositions, perfectly captures his genius and the influence he had on both music and society.

In The Ghetto Lyric

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto
(In the ghetto)


And his mama cries
‘Cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need
It is another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto
(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
(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
(In the ghetto)

Then one night in desperation
The 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
(In the ghetto)

And as her young man dies
(In the ghetto)
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’
Another little baby child is born
In the ghetto
(In the ghetto)

And his mama cries
(In the ghetto)
(In the ghetto)

Detail Review

“In The Ghetto” is a poignant narrative that transcends time, weaving a story of urban struggles, poverty, and hope. Released in 1969, it marked a significant departure from Elvis’s earlier rock ‘n’ roll hits, showcasing his versatility as an artist. The song opens with hauntingly beautiful orchestration, setting the stage for a lyrical journey into the heart of inner-city life.

Elvis’s emotive vocals breathe life into the narrative, making the listener acutely aware of the bleakness of the ghetto. The lyrics, penned by Mac Davis, are a raw and unflinching portrayal of a life characterized by poverty, violence, and despair. The vivid imagery in lines like “And his mama cries” and “In the ghetto, and his hunger burns” paints a stark picture of the harsh reality faced by the song’s protagonist.

As the song progresses, it takes a turn toward hope and redemption. Elvis’s voice soars as he sings about a young boy being born in the ghetto, suggesting that even in the bleakest of circumstances, there is the potential for change and a brighter future. The refrain, “And his mama cries,” echoes throughout the song, serving as a poignant reminder of the emotional toll of poverty.

What sets “In The Ghetto” apart is its ability to transcend its era and remain relevant. The issues it addresses – poverty, inequality, and the cycle of despair – are timeless, resonating with audiences across generations. The song’s universal themes make it a powerful tool for social commentary and a testament to Elvis’s enduring impact as an artist.


What inspired Elvis Presley to record “In The Ghetto”?

  • Elvis was moved by the tumultuous social and political climate of the late 1960s, which included civil rights movements and protests against poverty and inequality. The song was his way of addressing these issues through music.

Was “In The Ghetto” a commercial success?

  • Yes, the song was a commercial hit, reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969. It received widespread acclaim and solidified Elvis’s reputation as a versatile artist.

How did the song’s message resonate with the public?

  • “In The Ghetto” struck a chord with listeners worldwide because it addressed issues of poverty and inequality in a relatable and emotional way. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its ability to connect with people on a deep level.

Has the song been covered by other artists?

  • Yes, “In The Ghetto” has been covered by numerous artists over the years, including Dolly Parton and Nick Cave. These interpretations continue to highlight the song’s enduring relevance.


“In The Ghetto” stands as a timeless masterpiece in Elvis Presley’s illustrious career. Through its haunting melody and poignant lyrics, the song provides a window into the struggles faced by those living in poverty-stricken urban areas. Elvis’s emotive delivery and the song’s universal themes ensure that it remains as powerful and relevant today as it was in 1969.

This musical narrative serves as a reminder that art has the power to inspire change and shed light on the darkest corners of society. Elvis Presley’s “In The Ghetto” will continue to resonate with generations to come, keeping alive the legacy of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the issues he dared to address through his music.