“Have you read this?” Hamilton being one of Broadway’s most successful musicals, winning at Tony’s, a Pulitzer and a Grammy’s, you must have at least heard of it. If not, have you been living under a rock?
Well, today’s your lucky day. Why, you ask? It’s because I’m about to tell you all about ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’.
Did I have any particular interest in the ten-dollar founding father of America? No. But the genius Lin-Manuel Miranda created this play, wrote a book and starred in it. Miranda is exceptional and this reflects in his work. We’re obsessed with his fantastic and cleverly thought-through lyrics!
A musical about history? History actually being fun? Impossible! But it has been made possible through this hip-hop and R&B musical.
Am I going to go through each song they performed, expressing my love for it? There are in total forty-six songs. If I were to sit down and cover them all in one article, I might as well have it published as a book.
1. Alexander Hamilton.
The show starts off with the opening number ‘Alexander Hamilton’. The song/rap traces the tragic events of Hamilton’s childhood.
“Then a hurricane came, and devastation reigned. Our man saw his future drip, dripping down the drain. Put a pencil to his temple, connected it to his brain. And he wrote his first refrain, a testament to his pain”
It’s shown that Hamilton was smart and he worked very hard in order to have a future. When people got to know about his, they collected funs to send him to New York to get higher education. Hamilton had an urge to prove himself, to either live a great life or die in glory.
He had a different perspective on things since his childhood wasn’t the best.
“When he was ten his father split, full of it, debt-ridden Two years later, see Alex and his mother bed-ridden Half-dead sittin’ in their own sick, the scent thick”
Hamilton was an illegitimate child and his father abandoned him and his mother. Both of them took ill and while Hamilton got better, his mother went quick. He had to leave and go live with his cousin.
“Moved in with a cousin, the cousin committed suicide Left him with nothin’ but ruined pride, something new inside”
The story continues, narrating his arrival in New York. Many of the characters are introduced, claiming to have fought with him, died for him, loved and trusted him.
2. Aaron Burr, sir.
This deals with the first meeting between Aaron Burr and Hamilton. Hamilton is over-excited and unafraid to speak his mind out or do what he likes. This is evident in the line: “Sir… I heard your name at Princeton. I was seeking an accelerated course of study when I got sort of out of sorts with a buddy of yours. I may have punched him. It’s a blur, sir. He handles the financials?”. “You punched the bursar?”
Burr appears to be a guy who doesn’t take impulsive actions. He knows the field of politics well enough and offers Hamilton some advice.
(Burr)”While we’re talking, let me offer you some free advice. Talk less”
“Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for…”
“You can’t be serious.”
“You wanna get ahead?”
“Fools who run their mouths off, wind up dead.”
Which, actually, is some excellent advice.
Now, the play introduces characters John Laurens, Marquis de Lafayette and Hercules Mulligan.
[Laurens] “Aye, yo, yo, yo! What time is it?”
[Lafayette/Mulligan] “SHOW TIME.”
[Burr]”Like I said….”
All three sing a verse (awesome ones) about themselves and raise glasses to the revolution.
[LAFAYETTE] “Oui, oui, mon ami, Je m’appelle Lafayette. The Lancelot of the revolutionary set. I came from afar, just to say ‘bonsoir’. Tell the King ‘Casse-toi!’Who’s the best? C’est moi!”
They then proceed to go talk to Burr
[LAURENS] Well, if it ain’t the prodigy of Princeton college!
[MULLIGAN] Aaron Burr!
[LAURENS] Give us a verse, drop some knowledge!
[BURR] Good luck with that: you’re takin’ a stand You spit. I’m ‘a sit. We’ll see where we land.
This emphasises Burr’s careful nature.
[LAURENS] Burr, the revolution’s imminent. What do you stall for? [HAMILTON] If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for? [MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE/LAURENS] Ooh Who you? Who you? Who are you?
[MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE/LAURENS] Ooh, who is this kid? What’s he gonna do?
3. My Shot.
This song takes place after his meeting with Mulligan, Laurens and Lafayette.
“I prob’ly shouldn’t brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish. The problem is I got a lot of brains but no polish I gotta holler just to be heard. With every word, I drop knowledge I’m a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal. Tryin’ to reach my goal my power of speech, unimpeachable. Only nineteen but my mind is older”
“Don’t be shocked when your hist’ry book mentions me. I will lay down my life if it sets us free. Eventually you’ll see my ascendancy. And, I’m not throwin’ away my shot.”
They start taking shots about different things.
“I dream of life without a monarchy The unrest in France will lead to ‘onarchy? ‘Onarchy? How you say, how you say, ‘anarchy?’ When I fight, I make the other side panicky with my—”
[MULLIGAN] “Yo, I’m a tailor’s apprentice And I got y’all knuckleheads in loco parentis I’m joining the rebellion cuz I know it’s my chance To socially advance, instead of sewin’ some pants! I’m gonna take a—”
[LAURENS] “But we’ll never be truly free Until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me You and I. Do or die. Wait till I sally in On a stallion with the first black battalion Have another—”
[BURR] “Geniuses, lower your voices You keep out of trouble and you double your choices
I’m with you, but the situation is fraught You’ve got to be carefully taught: If you talk, you’re gonna get shot!”
Fun fact, Hamilton does get shot…[Spoiler] by Burr.
Well, this is a very big song so I’ll continue this and add more songs in Part-II.
Fortunately for you, I’ve made a handy list of the links for the lyrics as well as links to the songs listed above. YouTube is either removing or just editing out the music from all animatics because of copyright issues but I’m adding the links of the ones I like. I hope that they’ll still work.
Aaron Burr, sir
White House video: