Just You Wait | Hamiltuesday

By Martina - Tuesday, February 06, 2018


"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?"

I believe the opening song of Hamilton: An American Musical has a really strong impact on anyone that is listening for the first time. In a handful of words Lin-Manuel Miranda managed to include a lot of information and to show the contrasting sides of his artwork, such as the wide choice of words that come both from the street language (bastard, whore) and from a more sophisticated register (squalor, scholar).

The whole musical is some sort of rule-breaking contrast: it's structured like a traditional musical (I would put it in the same group as Les Misérables) and the content is relevant and accurate, but at the same time it introduces many things that had never been used so efficiently in a musical theatre piece, such as rap and parallelism between 17th-18th century history and the modern times.

Alexander Hamilton is the ideal opening piece of a musical because it introduces the main characters (by letting most of them sing a few lines) and gives an accurate description of Hamilton's upbringing; this way even people like me who know next to nothing about American history can quickly understand the context, get to know the main character and learn something new.

In under four minutes Lin managed to talk about Hamilton's family, birthplace, the way he learned to survive on his own and how much is brain and ability to write had an impact on his life. On a side note in the Hamiltome Lin says that from the line "There would have been nothing left to do for someone less astute" onwards the song doubles the tempo as a way of showing the moment Hamilton found his way out, and I find that a really cool idea. (Lin also says "The image in my head is of Harry Potter finding out he's a wizard" and I had to add this quote in here because Harry Potter).

I love this song and have watched a million covers and performances on YouTube, the video where Lin introduces this song for the first time at the White House will forever be one of my favourites (like some people in the comments pointed out, he looks so smol - I always feel like hugging him). I also absolutely love how every time he is playing Hamilton's part and the song gets to the point where Burr says "What's your name, man?" there is a split millisecond of silence, and as soon as Lin answers "Alexander Hamilton" everyone starts cheering and screaming like crazy.

Before I end my ramblings, I wanted to point out another thing I hadn't noticed before I read Lin's side notes on the Hamiltome. Towards the end of the song the actors that play Lafayette and Mulligan sing the line "We fought with him", which is also true for Madison and Jefferson, the other roles played by the actors that portray Lafayette and Mulligan, and the same goes for "I died for him" sung by Laurens/Philip. Lin managed to write a line for those characters that is shared by both roles interpreted by their actors, how intricate is that?

Finally, if I had to choose a favourite line out of this first song I think I would go for Hamilton saying 

"And there's a million things I haven't done, 
But just you wait, just you wait."

Martina x

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