Elvis Presley (image from allposters.co.uk)

American Trilogy

Though the Civil War was over for more than a hundred years ago, the scars still run deep in the hearts of people throughout America. Elvis Presley gives back to the memories of the war each time we play his song, “American Trilogy.” It is a song medley excellently arranged by country composer Mickey Newbury. The songsmith tried to unite the two sides of the country together. So he combined “All My Trials,” “Dixie,” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

In 1971, Newbury first recorded the medley for his album Frisco Mabel Joy. It reached number 26 on the charts and number 9 on the Billboard’s Easy Listening chart.

Elvis Presley’s version became popular in 1972. Presley modified the original sequence by repeating some lines and adding some instrumental ad-libs. His hunky delivery and gritty vocal indulgences helped the song gain more popularity.

Elvis Presley (photo from i.ytimg.com)

The Medley

Newbury chose songs that relate to the Civil War for the medley.

“Dixie,” also known as “I Sang Dixie” is one of the best-known songs in the 19th century. It came out of the blackface minstrelsy, an American form of entertainment displaying variety shows. Also, the song became an anthem of the Confederacy.

On the other hand, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” also known as “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory,” is a marching hymn of the Union Army during the American Civil War. Julia Ward Howe wrote the song with the music from “John Brown’s Body.” The song links the Bible’s prophesy about the wicked, and its relation to the Civil War.

Lastly, “All My Trials” or “All My Sorrows” is a Bohemian folk song, which became famous on the late 1950s and 1960s. The song relates to African American spirituals. Exact details on the origin of the song remain unclear, it doesn’t have any record in any musicological or historical records. In 1956, Bob Gibson first featured the song on his debut album Offbeat Folksongs.

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