Hamilton: Realizing Three Fundamental Truths At The Exact Same Time
I know some people are beginning to get 'Hamilton' fatigue. Not many, but some. An example, a friend on Facebook the other day during a discussion of the musical with another friend who had yet to see any of the YouTube videos, nor had they heard any of the music. My friend's comment:
No, that was not Alexander's middle initial, and it did not stand for 'forget', 'fosdick' or 'fearless freep'. My buddy meant the F-dash-dash-dash word, the queen-mother of dirty words that he learned from his friend, Schwartz.
(To be sure, my old Savannah drinking pally is a hard-core libertarian, so his objection to Hamilton has more to do with the creation of the Federal Reserve than a federal fast rap.)
My thirst for what, I believe, is the greatest piece of music of my lifetime, perhaps the greatest I have ever heard - period, will not be satisfied for a long, long time. After my lovely bride first played a couple of tracks for me on Spotify two months ago - yes, we were latecomers - I downloaded the cast album and have listened to virtually nothing else. If that makes me a bandwaggoner, then I am a dad gum bandwaggoner - the lost Waggoner triplet, joining Porter and Lyle.
But as I listen again (and again and again) to "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)", "What'd I Miss" and sob to "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story", I realize three fundamental truths about Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest masterpiece at the exact same time.
Number 1 - I am not going to see the original cast perform Hamilton live
There are no bleeping tickets for the Richard Rodgers Theatre production except for - and this is one of the greatest things about this work of art and the beautiful people behind it - the $10 lottery tickets. There are no plans for me to be in New York City (cue hick accented New York City?) over the next two weeks to even try the lottery, and my last name is not Kardashian to where I could scam some seats for 10-grand and a peak at my bum. Donald Trump is more likely to become Hillary Clinton's running mate than I am to get Broadway Hamilton tix AND a flight to New York AND a place to stay while there. Hell, I probably can't even afford one of those corned beef sandwiches which are an acceptable substitute for Viagra.
Number 2 - That's okay! Number 1, that is
Jealousy is usually a waste of time, and that is especially is the case when discussing Hamilton. If someone ever says to me "Oh, I saw the original cast live, and it was life-changing, it was magnificent, and that means I am better than you," my response will be, "well, I saw my daughter in a wrestling match with The Handicapped Heroes, and it was all of those things, too." "You can't be serious!" Why yes, I am a fool who runs his mouth. And its bull(snot) that anyone had more of a life-changing moment than I did, because I listened to all of Hamilton via the greatest cast-album, perhaps, of all time non-stop. Then I listened to it again. The cast album is almost all of the whole damn show, and since I was alone in my truck while listening, no one else's emotions distracting or rubbing off on me as might be the case in a packed theatre, the impact on my emotions, on my psyche were more powerful than Gallagher's sledgehammer to a watermelon.
Remember what Lin-Manuel Miranda has said many times - that his family couldn't afford a lot of Broadway shows, even growing up near them in New York, so he came to love musicals through cast albums? The music is the magic, no matter where you hear it, whether in the last seat of the back row of the Rodgers or through your earbuds in the kitchen while frying chicken for your family (that was me, last night).
Number 3 - I can share the wonder of this production with everyone, spread the gospel in public - if you will, and eventually I will see the show live somewhere. And it will have been worth the wait.
"How do you know it's that good if you haven't seen it?"
LISTEN TO THE FUNKIN' MUSIC! Just listen. Shut the h-e-double-hockey sticks up and listen.
You will get it.
To those who are caught up in this year's presidential campaign (I am a journalist, and I wish I weren't, to be honest), stop for two hours and listen.
If your iPhone playlist consists of Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, and various songs that resemble "Drunk On Your Love", "Drunk On a Boat" and "Drunk On a Drunk", skip that for a couple hours and listen.
"But I don't like hip-hop." It isn't entirely hip hop, and c'mon - when you were 12, you went out of your way to learn all of Rapper's Delight, so much so that you still remember every line to this day. If you know me, you know how I know that.
Besides, hip-hop helps your memory - learning these marvelous conceived lyrics is mental anaerobics to the 10th power. If you speak in public at all, listening and learning and reciting the lyric improves your diction, too. It worked for me, anyway; is that scientific enough?
It is also a chance to teach your kids history. Sure, the history isn't entirely accurate - if you follow politics, you should be used to that by now. The mostly awful 1945 film "Rhapsody In Blue" was practically one lie after another about the life of George Gershwin, but that didn't keep our daughter from falling in love with what, prior to Hamilton, was the greatest piece of music I had ever heard. So what if Angelica was already married by the time she met AH back in the day? Get your kids interested, then fill in the blanks as need be.
Finally, though Indianapolis is not yet on Hamilton's calendar, it will be eventually, or it will be in some other city near wherever I happen to be. It will not be the original cast, but the performers will be fabulous, and while their gowns sway and breeches breech, in my head I will imagine Mr. Miranda, Mr. Odom, Ms. Goldsberry, Ms. Soo, the incredible Mr. Diggs and The Oak Mr. Onaodowan, Mr. Ramos et al. It will be the one time Mr. Burr (Sir) and I will be in agreement, that it's okay to wait for it.