This song marked the rebirth of Elvis' career after he had spent most of the 1960s recording mainly soundtracks to the movies he was appearing in. This was the final song he sang on Elvis, his 1968 NBC comeback special in the USA which was his first live performance in seven years. The song was written at the last minute by the show's musical director W. Earl Brown, at the request of the producer Steve Binder to replace "I'll Be Home For Christmas." He wrote it as a response to the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, which had happened a few months previously.
In both the UK and US, this was Elvis' biggest chart hit since "Love Letters" in 1966.
As part of a series of re-releases of Elvis songs in the UK in 2007, this re-entered the UK chart at #17.
This song was performed with a projection of Elvis along with a real life Celine Dion during the 2007 season finale of American Idol. Footage of Elvis from a comeback special in 1968 was composited onto the Idol stage to create the effect.
Former football player and manager Terry Venables recorded a cover of the song for a Sun newspaper advert to tie in with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It featured a 60-piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with football personalities Harry Redknapp and Ian Wright and was filmed at Wembley Stadium. Released as a single, it reached the Top 30 of the UK singles chart with all proceeds going to the Help For Heroes appeal.
Priscilla Presley stated at a forum with Ron Onesti in 2017 that this and "An American Trilogy
" are her two favorite Elvis songs.