If you’ve spent more then 12 seconds of real or virtual time with me in the last two weeks, you will know that I have gone off the deep end re: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, the hip-hop / R&B infused musical interpretation of Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. (got that?)
You can hear the whole thing on Spotify, here:
Go listen to it 10 times. I’ll wait.
This show is awesome in all kinds of ways, and gets better and better the more you listen to it. It has pervaded my mind to the extent that I’ve been forced to reference it in meetings at least three times this week.
I’m kind of sort of for real plotting a trip to New York in the spring to see this business on the stage
(How could I not? OMG.)
So if you want to come, “Riiiiise Up!”.
But meanwhile, from home, if you’re looking for a even more to think about while you’re rapping “Bonjour, mon ami, je m’appelle Lafayette…” I recommend pairing Hamilton with Hilary Mantel’s fictional interpretation of Tudor right-hand-man Thomas Cromwell, in the massive novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (BOTH books won the Man Booker Prize, by the way, which I believe is unprecedented).
I know these books have now also been miniserialized…I’ve not seen that yet.
Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Cromwell have remarkably similar stories: both came from undistinguished roots, grew up in unfortunate circumstances, and were on their own by their mid-teens.
Both were self-educated, incredibly clever with language and money, driven by unbelievable energy, bound by their own (and only their own) definition of ethics and honor, and above all deadly ambitious.
Both rose through the ranks of government, so effective at getting shit done that they proved themselves indispensable to the man in charge….but made plenty of enemies along the way.
Hamilton captures how precarious was the fledging democratic government. It’s terrifying how close the whole thing came to falling apart. Mantel’s series captures how precarious were the tempers of Henry VIII. It’s terrifying to see a whole government trying to adjust to the whiplash of the king’s whim–or lose their heads in the trying.
Hamilton and Cromwell, while similar in their talents and ambitions, have to operate in somewhat different ways in order to survive their respective settings. (“How lucky we are to be aliiive right now!”)
Ugggggh….baby’s crying–talk about a tyrant–so I can’t get into Anne Boleyn and Angelica Schuyler. So let me sum up: Listen! Read! “Write like you’re running out of time!” And I hope I’ll see you in NYC (“The greatest city in the woooorld!”)