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. Elvis made it popular with his hunky[peacock term] delivery, and his gritty vocal indulgences[peacock term]. The medley uses three 19th-century songs:
- "Dixie" — a blackface minstrel song that became an anthem of the Confederacy;
- "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.
Elvis 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. Elvis modifies Newbury's sequence by reprising after All My Trials both Dixie (in the solo flute) and The Battle Hymn. He performs the medley in the 1972 filmed documentary Elvis on Tour, and again in the 1973 satellite telecast Aloha from Hawaii. In terms of 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. But in fairness, Elvis's renditions improved over time in their coherence and intensity, as both of the above-mentioned visual versions amply demonstrate.
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.
For the Mickey Newbury 1971 studio recording:
|Australian 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|
- Julia Ward Howe, lyricist of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"
- Collins, Ace. Songs Sung, Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs. HarperResource, 2003. ISBN 0060513047