Made it to Day 13 of NaBloPoMo! Almost half way there, and I haven’t tired of blogging yet. 😉
I was introduced to the Hamilton soundtrack by a women’s forum in early 2016. The Broadway show was really starting to pick up steam, and the Presidential race seemed to make the story of Alexander Hamilton extremely relevant to the current political climate. With so much buzz about the show and the genius that is Lin-Manuel Miranda, I had to check it out. Thankfully, it was on both Spotify and Amazon Prime.
The opening number had me hooked.
If I had to describe my taste in music, I probably fall in the categories of nerd rock, sad ballads, and over-manufactured catchy pop. I’m NOT well versed in hip hop, although I do like the rhythm and beat of hip hop without paying much attention to lyrics. It took the topic of American history and the story of one of our founding fathers for me to really have an appreciation for hip hop. (Can you imagine how much better of a student I would’ve been if everything were taught in song form?) The way Lin-Manuel layered in rhymes, different rhythms for each “character,” and weaved musical themes to bring it all together is absolutely brilliant.
Ninety-nine percent of the show is included in the soundtrack, so it’s about 2 hours long end to end. It wasn’t until we were on our road trip last year through New Mexico and Colorado that I really had a chance to listen to the whole thing in one sitting. It was so good; we listened to it three times throughout our trip! And I haven’t stopped listening to it. My kids listen to it too, and they will randomly break into song. It’s awesome.
Before Hamilton, I knew very little about him. I knew he was on the $10 bill. I knew he was killed by Aaron Burr (thanks, milk commercials) in a duel. And that was it. By the time we got to the end of the soundtrack, I was IN TEARS. I was so moved by the story of this man, how he came to be, his tenacity, his accomplishments, his tragedies, his scandal, his death, his legacy – all in a short 47 years of life. And how Lin-Manuel Miranda took a beast of a biography written by Ron Chernow* and turned it into the most creative piece of musical art of our day… WHOA.
*I have since listened to Ron Chernow’s book in abridged audio format.
I went down a rabbit hole of learning more about his story and all of the historical references in the show lyrics. I also went down a rabbit hole of better understanding how Lin-Manuel is such a musical genius. I could not get enough of Hamilton, and I still learn something new every single time I listen to the soundtrack and find another thing to go off and Google.
When I had the opportunity to realize my dreams of seeing Hamilton on Broadway in New York this summer, I made it into a family trip. I offered the second ticket to my sister Julia, who was also geeking out on Hamilton. The show was everything and more. My expectations were so high after listening to the soundtrack on repeat and digesting every piece of written, audio, and video content that was out there about it. And it still blew me away. I was on a high for days!
The whole trip, for me, became an American history tour. We visited Hamilton’s home in Harlem and his grave at Trinity Church. I spent a summer interning in New York in 2006, but with my newfound knowledge of this founding father, it made my stops at the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall have more meaning. I had never stepped foot into Trinity Church until this trip.
If anyone wants to karaoke sing Hamilton with me, I’ve got the instrumentals version of the soundtrack and the lyric book. I’m working on my rapping skills (goodness, Lafayette raps fast!). Family holiday tradition?!?