Music Review: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)



We move under cover and we move as one
Through the night, we have one shot to live another day
We cannot let a stray gunshot give us away
We will fight up close, seize the moment and stay in it
It’s either that or meet the business end of a bayonet
The code word is ‘Rochambeau,’ dig me?
Rochambeau!
You have your orders now, go, man, go!
And so the American experiment begins
With my friends all scattered to the winds
"Yorktown (The World Turned Upside)"


What first got my attention about the music from Hamilton was how bad-ass Lin-Manuel Miranda and his cast made The Battle of Yorktown sound. I love history in general but the founding of my nation has a sepcial place in my heart. The music of Hamilton captures this era so well - how a bunch of rebels against incredible odds managed to found a nation. How that nation needed a federal government and how fortunate it was in its first president was a man who understood the importance of refusing power - of teaching a nation "how to say goodbye". And how, to quote the musical:
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
Spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
Hamilton is a great topic of study for a hip-hop musical. He started with absolutely nothing, he had to compete with patricians on his own merits. He seemed to have a death-wish and could make some horrible decisions - he made powerful enemies, he got blackmailed in an extramarital affair (and later published a pamphlet telling the story of the affair), and of course, was killed in his legendary duel against Aaron Burr. But he was an exceptionally gifted aide for George Washington, was the most prodigious author of the Federalist Powers (a document referred to to this very day), helped establish the young nation with clear credit, and helped Washington formulate a foreign policy that kept the young nation out of European wars (not making a friend of Jefferson in the process).

That's praise to the man. The music is genius. It captures the passion of the man and the era. His flaws, his gifts. His victories and his defeats. The energy the cast put into it is phenomenal. It's hard to hold back tears as one listens to Eliza Hamilton's closing musical number, remembering that she outlived her husband by fifty years! Realizing the orphanage she helped found stands to this day.

I've heard concern about the cast being primarily made up of people of color, portraying primarily white men and women. From what I've seen on YouTube videos and from the album, I can't imagine another cast. It works phenomenally well. Miranda described Hamilton as "a story about America then, told by America now.”

Tickets are scarce as hell but I hope I imagine to see it somehow, either in New York or when it tours to Boston.


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