An upcoming compilation of Elvis Presley's songs, newly set to orchestra, includes a powerful new interpretation of "An American Trilogy," which also features Duane Eddy on guitar. Beginning with shimmering strings, the tune slowly unfolds to become a particularly dramatic offering on If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, due out October 30th, with the rockabilly guitarist playing some tasteful, fluttering low-end textures.
Presley's wife Priscilla, who manages his estate, told Rolling Stone in a recent interview how she found the song and brought it to her husband. "I was driving down Sunset Boulevard, and I heard Mickey Newbury singing it, and I went 'Oh, my God' and made a U-turn and went back to the house," she said. "No one usually ever brought songs to him. Elvis picked out all of his songs, with the exception of movie songs which matched the scenes. No one ever said, 'Hey, El, you got to do this song.'
"So I said, 'There's a song I think you really should listen to,'" she continued. "And he said, 'Well, put it on.' So I did, and he just sat there at the desk. He put his head down and kind of nodded to it. He closed his eyes and said, 'Damn, damn good song.' And the next thing I know, we're back in Vegas, and he ate it up and spit it out."
The orchestral record spans the singer's career and, in addition to the work of the orchestra and Eddy, features contributions from Michael Bublé, who sings half of "Fever" as a duet, and opera-pop trio Il Volo, who add texture to "It's Now or Never."
"This is the album I think he always would have wanted to do," Priscilla said. "The label would have never allowed him to have an orchestra. And if it was up to [manager] Colonel Parker, he would have had Elvis just singing — no background, no nothing. I think we have given him the freedom here to experiment with all the orchestras he would have loved in the pieces."