Elvis hadn't been on television since The Frank Sinatra Timex Special in 1960. Colonel Parker struck a deal with NBC for a television special, as well secure financing for a future Elvis film. Originally Parker wanted Elvis just to sing an hour of Christmas carols. Director Steve Binder wisely convinced Parker that Elvis needed to reestablish his career after years of formulaic movies and a few poor records. The special was shot in June but wasn't aired until December 3, 1968 and was simply called Elvis. It wasn't until later the name was changed to the '68 Comeback Special by fans and critics. Parts of the show featured lavish stage productions while other songs were performed lived with a band in front of a small audience. This was Elvis's first live performance since 1961.
The song, "If I Can Dream" was written specifically for the special and reached the number 12 spot on the charts. The soundtrack broke into the Top 10. The program was a huge success, becoming the network's number one rated show for the season.
Elvis told the director, "Steve, it's the greatest thing I've ever done in my life. I give you my word I will never sing a song I don't believe in."