Elvis Presley’s career was in a pretty remarkable place when he hit the road for an American arena tour in April of 1972: Four years earlier, his televised comeback special rescued him from B-movie purgatory, and he managed to follow it up with both huge shows and hits like “In the Ghetto,” “Suspicious Minds” and “Kentucky Rain.” Nearly all of his peers from the 1950s rock scene had become nostalgia acts, but Elvis was a relevant pop star once again.
A few days before kicking off the 1972 tour, he went into RCA Studios in Hollywood and cut “Burning Love,” which would become his final Top 10 hit when it came out that August. Meanwhile, documentary filmmakers Robert Abel and Pierre Adidge joined him on the road to shoot Elvis on Tour, which would go on to win a Golden Globe that year for Best Documentary.
Multiple shows were filmed, and the movie mixed songs recorded on various nights with interview and backstage footage. Here’s a “Bridge Over Troubled Water” cover from the April 14th show at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina, where Presley’s usual band – led by guitarist James Burton – was augmented by an orchestra and the Sweet Inspirations, a trio of backing singers.
Paul Simon later noted that Presley’s rendition of his song was a “touch on the dramatic side.” “But so was the song,” he added. “When I first heard Elvis perform ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ it was unbelievable. I thought to myself, ‘How the hell can I compete with that?'”