An American Trilogy
"An American Trilogy" is a 1971 song medley arranged by country composer Mickey Newbury and popularized by Elvis Presley, who included it as a showstopper in his concert routines. The medley uses three 19th-century songs:
- "Dixie" — a popular folk song about the southern United States.
- "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" — a marching hymn of the Union Army during the American Civil War; and
- "All My Trials" — a Bahamian lullaby related to African American spirituals and widely used by folk music revivalists
Newbury first recorded "An American Trilogy" for his 1971 album Frisco Mabel Joy, and the medley featured prominently on his first concert album, Live at Montezuma Hall, released in 1973. The studio recording reached No. 26 on the charts in 1972, and No. 9 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart.
Presley began singing "An American Trilogy" in concert in January 1972; a live recording made the following month was released as a single by RCA Records. Presley modifies Newbury's sequence by reprising after "All My Trials" both "Dixie" (in the solo flute) and with a bigger ending on "Battle Hymn". He performs the medley in the 1972 filmed documentary Elvis on Tour, and again in the 1973 satellite telecast Aloha from Hawaii. Although in terms of its chart success, his RCA version did less well than Newbury's single, reaching No. 66 late in 1972, and it peaked at No. 31 on the Easy Listening chart, the fact that it was included in both versions of the Aloha Special, seen in the US in April 1973 by a viewership estimated by Nielsen to be in excess of 50 million and worldwide, by 1 billion a few months earlier on January 14, 1973, makes it very likely that it was Presley's version which made the song exceptionally well known, both in the US and worldwide.
In 2002 the medley was covered by heavy metal band Manowar, appearing as the sixth track on the album Warriors of the World. It was also featured on country singer Billy "Crash" Craddock's live album Live -N- Kickin' in 2009. Alwyn Humphreys' arrangement for male choir is popular and features on albums by the Cardiff Arms Park Male Choir and Morriston Orpheus Choir. "An American Trilogy" is referenced and partially sung in the Manic Street Preachers' "Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier" on the Everything Must Go album. It was also arranged for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2015 compilation album, If I Can Dream. In all, over 465 versions have been recorded by various artists.
- Mickey Newbury
|Chart (1971–72, 1975)||Peak|
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||30|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||76|
|French Singles Chart||53|
|U.K. Singles Chart||42|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles||93|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||26|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks||9|
- Elvis Presley
|U.K. Singles Chart||8|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||66|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks||31|
|U.S. Cash Box Top 100||73|
- Collins, Ace. Songs Sung, Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs. HarperResource, 2003. ISBN 0060513047