Album that changed my life: Hamilton

Category:  Music
Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 at 8:46 PM
Album that changed my life: Hamilton by Erica Burkholder

“How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore….”

The opening lyrics to Broadway smash hit “Hamilton” are both chilling and ones that take me to a better place.

The stage show and subsequent album, written by the magnificent Lin-Manuel Miranda, is one of few records to be constantly replayed in my lifetime. I stumbled upon the album and musical late in the scene, but that didn’t stop me from falling head first into its sounds and lyrics.

“Hamilton” has struck a chord with thousands and thousands of people (good luck getting a ticket to it), and it’s not only because it’s an amazing take on a story not often talked about in history, but the soundtrack is versatile and inspiring.

The near title track, “Alexander Hamilton,” and “My Shot” are two songs I listen to when I need to be pepped up, or just want to hear an inspiring track. I’ve spent many nights up late working on school work with “My Shot” on repeat.

“Stay Alive (Reprise)” and “It’s Quiet Uptown” are songs I listen to when I’m melancholy. “Stay Alive” has an emotion-pulling melody and similarly effective vocals. “It’s Quiet Uptown” is the reaction to Philip’s death, and I don’t think it’s managed to not make me cry since I’ve first listened to it.

My favorite song, “Aaron Burr, Sir,” shows the characteristics of both main characters and is something that will immediately cheer me up. When I hear Burr sing, “you punched the bursar,” it always gets me. The track also shows Hamilton’s love and passion for what he wants to do, plus it’s the amazing introduction to other main cast members (each one providing a nice contrast to Burr).

If “Aaron Burr, Sir” is the introduction to the relationship between the two (Hamilton and Burr), then “Your Obedient Servant” shows the breaking point (before the duel that is). It shows the quirks of the two just as well as “Aaron Burr, Sir,” which brings it close to the top on my favorites list. The way Miranda wrote Burr and Hamilton and their interactions makes them perfect characters to oppose each other, and “Aaron Burr, Sir” is the first song that features their back-and-forth.

“Cabinet Battle #1” and “#2” are fun pieces that pull on politics from the era, and the raps thrown at each other are great quips. I listen to these often when I need a bit of humor in my life.

Not only has Hamilton led me to life-changing music, but it also involved some of my favorite actors, which has then led me to more things I love. Anthony Ramos (John Laurens and Philip Hamilton) does his own music, plus starred in “She’s Got to Have It” (another soundtrack/album that is stunning) and the “In the Heights” movie coming out this summer. “In the Heights” is a musical written by Miranda based on characters from New York’s Washington Heights. Christopher Jackson (George Washington) plays one of my favorite characters in “Bull.” Without “Hamilton,” I may not have found these actors or become attached to them.

“Hamilton” has amazing songs, perfect for all emotional states listeners may be in, and it provides some amazing lines that I love to quote. It tells Hamilton’s story, but it doesn’t stray away from the negative parts of his life. I think that makes everything even more emotional because you’re attached to this man and know his faults and drive.

As the “Hamilton” musical ends with “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” it’s fitting I do too. The song marvels over Hamilton’s life and Eliza’s life after his death. It pulls on the heartstrings as the album and musical covered Hamilton’s life, but also Eliza worrying if she did enough to keep his story known.

Miranda brought Hamilton back to mainstream conversation; he was supposed to be removed off the bill.

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