Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Alexander Hamilton, My name is Alexander Hamilton

A month ago, the most I might have been able to tell you about Alexander Hamilton was that he was shot by Aaron Burr and I probably only remember that thanks to a certain commercial from the 90s.

Now, thanks to a certain new musical, I can tell you a whole lot more. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who I already liked from his musical In the Heights and his wedding video, has written a musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton and it is brilliant.

As an introduction, here is the Hamilton Mixtape that Miranda performed while he was first working on this project. Miranda explains the concept and sings what became the musical's opening number.

Basically, Miranda decided that music of the revolution was a hip-hop story - an orphaned immigrant who starts at the bottom in a new city and helps change the world. Using hip-hop, R&B, rap, pop and traditional Broadway style music, Miranda has created an approachable, emotional, and inspiring story about "ten dollar founding father without a father."

The promotional materials explain that the show is the story of America then as told by America now, as it is an ethnically diverse cast. It's almost impossible right now for me to think of the Founding Fathers as just a bunch of old, white guys. And, of course, the relationship between Burr and Hamilton throughout. NPR First Listen gives it a really nice review that's worth reading.

There are so many Easter eggs and references in the music and I know I haven't heard them all. At this point, if I think to myself that something is a reference, it probably is. There are some wonderful lyrical annotations at, and I look forward to having time to go through them all.

I have so many favorite parts that I don't even know where to start. It's just so smart and so fun to listen to. You should give it a listen on Spotify, or just buy the album. Listen for King George singing as a scorned lover. Definitely check out the song where Hamilton starts making fun of a Loyalist farmer by creating variations to the farmer's musical theme, like Mozart did to Salieri in Amadeus. Discover how beautiful it is when Washington starts speaking his farewell speech as Hamilton writes it. All the repeated musical and lyrical themes of various characters. And all the other musical delights in between.

I haven't discovered a new musical that I love this much in a long time. It's just so, so good. Be aware that there is some language and that Hamilton was the center of one of the first, shall we say, interpersonal scandals of our new nation, and that story gets told.

I can't recommend this musical enough. So, go listen to it already! And if anyone wants to send me and Blake to New York to see this, I would be forever in your debt.



Heidi said...

I've been hearing a LOT about this one lately, and one of these times I'll listen! I'm excited about it!

Giggles said...

I am sufficiently intrigued. :D