Rather than try to explain the dearth of writing as of late, I’m going to share with you the brilliance that is the musical “Hamilton.”
I’ve been following this musical’s development for two years, because I follow the writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, on Twitter. He is an excellent follow, by the way–especially if you love musical theatre. The idea sounded impossible: take an 800-page biography by Ron Chernow of a lesser-known American Founding Father and create an engaging musical that employs several popular musical genres, the most prominent being rap and hip-hop.
The more I read Miranda’s tweets and accompanying articles about the show, however, I became almost obsessed with it. So when the Broadway Cast Recording was released late Thursday night, I dove in and began listening.
I haven’t stopped.
I haven’t watched television or listened to podcasts or read anything, because the Cast Recording is on a loop on my phone. It is brilliant.
Just a couple of observations as I’m currently on my 5th listen…first, I’m reminded that American politics have always been messy and scandalous. I learned this the first time as a Poli Sci major at BYU, then again while reading Sarah Vowell’s book “Assassination Vacation,” and now “Hamilton” reinforces the fact. Listening to “Cabinet Battle #1” and “Washington On Your Side” while reading stories of John Boehner’s resignation reminded me that the more things change, the more things stay the same.
Next, we forget too often the contributions of women during the Revolutionary War and in the years following. My parents bought us a book when I was in grade school called “Patriots in Petticoats.” The song “The Schuyler Sisters” reminded me that women were just as invested in starting a new country as the men were.
Finally, and perhaps most relevant to this week in my life, is the idea of “who tells our story?” We all live extraordinary lives with stories that deserve to be told–if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t teach journalism, and I certainly wouldn’t be publishing a memoir. But who tells our story? Our Puritan DNA demands humility, so we often demur when asked to tell our stories. But in telling our stories, we find connections to each other that we forget existed. Miranda presents the connections Chernow unearthed in his book in such an engaging manner that now I want to read the source text. I don’t think I would’ve thought the life of Alexander Hamilton would intrigue me all that much. I’ve been proven wrong.
The Cast Recording is more than worth the $20 price tag through iTunes–after all, you get over 2 hours of music. But if you are still unconvinced, check out this piece from CBS Sunday Morning, or the trailer.
And I have a new savings goal: a ticket to NYC, and a ticket to “Hamilton.”