About the song

Ah, yes, Elvis Presley’s iconic performance of An American Trilogy from his Aloha from Hawaii concert in 1973. This is a truly remarkable moment in music history, a confluence of cultural touchstones delivered by the undisputed King of Rock and Roll himself.

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Let’s unpack this a bit further. First, we have Elvis Presley. By 1973, he was already a global phenomenon. He’d revolutionized music in the 50s with his electrifying blend of rock and roll, R&B, and gospel. But by the early 70s, his career had seen some shifts. He’d focused more on film roles and soundtrack recordings, with live performances becoming less frequent. Aloha from Hawaii was a landmark event, a chance for Elvis to reclaim the stage and reconnect with his audience on a massive scale.

The concert itself was a technological marvel. It was the first ever live satellite broadcast of a concert, beamed out to over 40 countries and watched by an estimated 1.5 billion people. This was a staggering audience, even by today’s standards. Elvis, ever the showman, rose to the occasion, delivering a powerhouse performance that cemented his status as a global icon.

Now, let’s delve into the song itself, An American Trilogy. This isn’t your typical rock and roll anthem. It’s a medley of three deeply patriotic American songs, each with its own rich history:

  • Dixie: This familiar tune, originating from the American South before the Civil War, evokes a sense of nostalgia for the homeland. Elvis’ rendition here is respectful, acknowledging the song’s historical context without dwelling on its divisive connotations.
  • The Battle Hymn of the Republic: This stirring Civil War era song, originally a Christian hymn, became a powerful anthem for the Union cause. Elvis’ powerful vocals and the full orchestra behind him elevate the song’s message of perseverance and faith.
  • All My Trials: This is a lesser-known African American spiritual, a song of comfort and hope in the face of hardship. The inclusion of this song adds a layer of depth and complexity to the medley, acknowledging the struggles faced by many throughout American history.
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Elvis’ performance of An American Trilogy is more than just a collection of patriotic songs. It’s a powerful statement about American identity, acknowledging both the triumphs and struggles of the nation’s past. He delivers the medley with sincerity and conviction, his voice soaring over the orchestra and the cheers of the audience. This performance became a cultural touchstone, a reminder of the unifying power of music and the enduring legacy of American music.

Video

Lyrics

“An American Trilogy”

Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton
Old times they are not forgotten
Look away, look away, look away, Dixieland

Sing it, fellas.

Oh I wish I was in Dixie, away, away
In Dixieland
I’ll take my stand
To live and die in Dixie

For Dixieland I was born
Early Lord one frosty morn’
Look away, look away, look away, Dixieland

Glory, glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
His truth is marching on

So hush, little baby, don’t you cry
You know your daddy’s bound to die
But all my trials, Lord, soon be over

Glory, glory, hallelujah
His truth is marching on
His truth is marching on