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Mickey Newbury - An American Trilogy

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Published on Aug 11, 2012

"An American Trilogy" is a song arranged by country songwriter Mickey Newbury and made popular by Elvis Presley, who began including the song as part of his regular concert routine in the 1970s, thereby making the song a showstopper. It is a medley of three 19th century songs—"Dixie", a blackface minstrel song that became the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy since the Civil War; "All My Trials", originally a Bahamian lullaby, but closely related to African American spirituals, and well-known through folk music revivalists; and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", the marching song of the Union Army during the Civil War.

Newbury's first recorded the song on his 1971 album Frisco Mabel Joy, and the song featured prominently on his first concert album Live At Montezuma Hall released in 1973.

Presley began performing the song in concert in 1972—a February recording was released by RCA as a single. He performed it in the 1972 documentary, Elvis on Tour, and in his 1973 international satellite telecast "Elvis—Aloha from Hawaii". The song is referenced and partially sung in the Manic Street Preachers' "Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier" from the Everything Must Go album.

The original Mickey Newbury version reached #26 in 1972, and #9 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart. Later in 1972, Elvis Presley's version reached #66, and peaked at #31 on the Easy Listening chart. In 2002, the song was covered by Heavy Metal band Manowar, appearing as the sixth track on their 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 choirs is very popular, and features on albums by Cardiff Arms Park Male Choir and Morriston Orpheus Choir.

The Elvis Presley version has been used as the closing number during the Stone Mountain Lasershow in Stone Mountain, Georgia since its inception in the mid-1980s. The song plays during an animation showing Confederate General Robert E. Lee during the American Civil War riding through a field containing numerous casualties; he ultimately breaks his sabre in half, with the two halves re-uniting to form the north and south United States as a whole.

Over 465 versions of "An American Trilogy" have been recorded by different artists.

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