At the end of each episode of Newstalk ZB’s top-rated The Two (Friday and Sunday evenings from 8pm) Pam Corkery and myself like to conclude with a song that means something. “Means” in the sense that it should never just be a song to wash over you and that there should be a reason for playing it. I still find it a mental brick wall that some radio hosts over the years ended their shows with the same song every time – why be so lazy?
That said, usually our reasons for song choice are fractionally stronger than last night’s not particularly amazing 56th anniversary of the day Elvis bought the Graceland property, but who cares when it provides an excuse to play something as breathtaking as An American Trilogy?
Elvis never recorded a studio version of country singer Mickey Newbury’s amalgamation of three American Civil War-era songs (Dixie, All My Trials and The Battle Hymn Of The Republic), but his various live performances of An American Trilogy in the 1970s ensured it became a favourite amongst his fans.
As for the general public, oddly enough An American Trilogy was never a hit in the States, but did become a substantial hit in the UK in the early 70s. Best known for its hair-raising “glory, glory hallelujah,” refrain, I rate any one of Elvis’ live versions of An American Trilogy as equal to If I Can Dream as his finest ever song. In all its jump-suited triumph, here it is: