In the Ghetto
Elvis Presley Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

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's 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)
(Ah)

Overall Meaning

Elvis Presley's song In the Ghetto is a powerful commentary on the cycle of poverty and violence that is perpetuated in underprivileged communities. The opening lyrics set the scene of a cold, gray Chicago morning, where a poor baby is born in the ghetto. The mother cries because she knows another mouth to feed in their already impoverished state will make life that much more difficult. The image of a newborn child in these circumstances is a striking illustration of the depths of poverty and destitution that exist in these areas.


The lyrics then take on a more political message, urging people to take a closer look at the plight of children growing up in these impoverished neighborhoods. The child needs a helping hand, the lyrics suggest, or else he will grow up to be an angry young man. The imagery of a young boy with a runny nose playing on the streets as the cold wind blows is hauntingly vivid, and the statement that his hunger burns is a reminder of the desperate circumstances that so many families are forced to endure.


The final verses of In the Ghetto depict the tragic consequences of this cycle of poverty and violence. The young man turns to crime and desperation and ends up facing a violent and untimely death. The song's closing verses are a reiteration of the opening verses, with another baby born into the same cycle of poverty and violence that continues to perpetuate itself.


Overall, Elvis Presley's In the Ghetto is a powerful and thought-provoking message about the devastating impact of poverty and violence on individuals, families and communities.


Line by Line Meaning

As the snow flies
On a cold winter day in Chicago, as snow falls from the sky


On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
On a bleak morning in the city of Chicago


A poor little baby child is born
A new life begins, but in poverty and disadvantage


In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
In the most deprived and vulnerable part of the city, where people live in poverty and crime


And his mama cries
The child's mother weeps because she knows the challenges they will face


'Cause if there's one thing that she don't need
She already struggles to provide for herself and her family


It's another hungry mouth to feed
She cannot afford to take care of another child


People, don't you understand
The singer implores the listeners to comprehend the child's plight


The child needs a helping hand
The child requires assistance to build a better life


Or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day?
Without support, he may resort to violence and aggression


Take a look at you and me
The singer invites an honest appraisal of the listener's privilege and responsibility


Are we too blind to see?
Are we ignoring the inequalities and injustices present in society?


Do we simply turn our heads and look the other way?
Do we choose to ignore the struggles of those in need?


Well, the world turns
Although life goes on for others, things may not improve for those in the ghetto


And a hungry little boy with a runny nose
The child is still hungry and suffering in the cold


Plays in the street as the cold wind blows
He has no choice but to spend time outside, making the most of the grim environment


So he starts to roam the streets at night
As he grows older, his hunger and discontent leads him to explore the dangerous parts of the city


And he learns how to steal, and he learns how to fight
In order to survive, he turns to crime and violence


Then one night in desperation
In a moment of overwhelming hopelessness


The young man breaks away
He attempts to flee the ghetto, to find a way out


He buys a gun, steals a car
He feels he needs to resort to increasingly violent measures in order to escape poverty


Tries to run, but he don't get far
But his attempts to escape are futile, and his desperation drives him further into crime and aggression


And his mama cries
The mother mourns her son's fate, and the circumstances that drove him to violence


As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man
The young man becomes a spectacle, and the center of attention for his actions


Face down on the street with a gun in his hand
He is seen as a danger to society, and his violent end is inevitable


On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
As the snow falls once again, another child is born into poverty, and the cycle begins anew


Another little baby child is born
A new life starts, innocent and unblemished by the struggles that lie ahead


In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
But, like those before him, the child has been born into the worst conditions of the city


And his mama cries (in the ghetto)
The mother weeps, knowing the challenges that lay ahead for her child


(In the ghetto)
The singer repeats the refrain to emphasize the cycle of poverty and desperation that afflicts those in the ghetto


(Ah)
A final note of sadness, as the song comes to an end




Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Written by: Mac Davis

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
To comment on or correct specific content, highlight it

Genre not found
Artist not found
Album not found
Song not found
Most interesting comment from YouTube:

@chemilan

Elvis Presley Lyrics
"In The Ghetto"

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
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

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

And his mama cries



All comments from YouTube:

@sumanthbr1448

This is my favorite song of Elvis Presley. The profound meaning, the cycle of pain and suffering in the song is well expressed!

@craig9630

There will always be pain and suffering.I know first hand

@davidlawuk1647

One of the most poignant songs ever. Elvis nailed it too. Here's my 2022 version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJqpyt9w-Tg.

@craig9630

Hit the nail on the head

@RK-su4hs

@Craig it’s how we chose to handle it…that’s they key

@kathleenclayton4979

When the snow flies and a hungry little boy with a runny nose..... Elvis voice you can hear the pain and sorrow🙏🙏

22 More Replies...

@yourfriendlyneighbourhoods8202

This was the perfect song to end “Elvis” (2022) with. Really sticks with me

@piercehubbard4086

I kept hoping the whole movie they’d show him playing it, because it’s my favorite Elvis song! Then the credits rolled and I clapped when I heard it playing. If Austin Butler doesn’t win an Oscar for that performance, I’d boycott the Academy! Some critics have been way too hard on this film, only because they’d rather hear themselves talk than actually witness a beautiful film.

@karimimanuelfox1803

Sadly they remixed it....

@Badassinblack51

Me too

More Comments

More Versions