If you haven't heard of the Broadway sensation that has swept the nation known simply as Hamilton, then I'll assume you've been living under a rock for the past two years. For those select few, Hamilton is the story of our nation's first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who's life carried more tragedy, heartbreak, and triumph than most Americans ever knew. Now, thanks to the meticulous work of the glorious Lin-Manuel Miranda, the world is hungry to know more, and tickets to see the show are sold out through next year.
Luckily, Hamilton fans can get a little taste of what the show is all about by watching Hamilton's America, a documentary, directed by Alex Horwitz, which chronicles the creation of the show and features clips of the original cast performing select numbers.
The documentary premieres on PBS tonight at 9/8c, but we thought we'd get in on the fun early by bringing you a list of some of the most powerful lyrics from this show's incredible soundtrack. Since the entire show is, in and of itself, phenomenal, these lyrics are in no particular order (except maybe album-wise).
"There's a million things I haven't done. But just you wait..." from "Alexander Hamilton"
Although the show's opening number features a number of intricate and exhilarating lines, this is one of the first sentences uttered by the show's title character. This line stands out among the rest because it captures the ambition and determination that Hamilton possessed without hitting you over the head with it. So simple, yet so profound. Personally, I enjoy this line so much because it hints at the potential in all of us; just because your greatest acts haven't happened yet, doesn't mean they won't. "Just you wait..."
"I'm past patiently waitin'. I'm passionately smashin' every expectation, Every action's an act of creation." from "My Shot"
Okay, truthfully, every line in "My Shot" could have made this list, but we decided to go with the line that reaches out and shakes you with its potency. Like the first line, this lyric is a testament to Hamilton's resilience and drive to be something more than people expected of him. Only now, the time for subtlety has passed. Now, we head towards revolution!
"Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now." from "The Schuyler Sisters"
This lyric pops up throughout the play at various stages of the characters' lives, but, no matter what tragedy or peril the audience may find them in, it never loses its truthfulness. Life, death, and legacy are major themes throughout the musical, but this line reminds the characters -- and the viewers -- that to be alive is to experience history, and that's nothing to scoff at.
"Dying is easy [...]. Living is harder." from "Right Hand Man"
As with the previous line, this lyric speaks to the idea of life and death throughout the play. But there's something that can be taken away from this short line within an extremely high energy song: the easiest thing to do is to give up and let go of ambitions. But the easy route isn't usually the one that pays off in the end. Imagine if Lin-Manuel Miranda had given up on this crazy pitch of an idea. (*shutters in horror*)
"If we lay a strong enough foundation, we'll pass it on to you, We'll give the world to you, And you'll blow us all away." from "Dear Theodosia"
Setting aside the fact that this song makes me cry every single time I listen to it, this lyric stands out because it stands true for every generation. Our task is to build upon what our successors have left us and leave something in our stead for our descendants to make even better. Improvement is not a bad thing, people. This lyric also gets a point for being part of a Hamilton/Burr duet. The swoon is unreal.
"How do you write like tomorrow won't arrive? How do you write like you need it to survive? How do you write ev'ry second you're alive?" from "Non-Stop"
To be fair, this line stood out to me for selfish reasons. As a writer, Hamilton's persistence and consistency is mad inspiring. But, outside of that, this amount of determination and dedication is something that everyone can learn from. Additionally, it could be said that this line advocates for using your voice. What you have to say is important. Your opinions matter. Hamilton definitely knew his did.
"I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance." from "Hurricane"
Even though this line precedes arguably the dumbest decision of Hamilton's political career, this lyric pretty much captures Hamilton's entire story. Hamilton wrote himself into and out of so many situations throughout his life that his writing has become a huge part of his legacy. More than that, though, this line sticks out because it reveals the true power behind the written word and the way in which it can drastically change circumstances (something that occurs more than once within the musical alone).
"What is a legacy? It's planting seeds in a garden you never get to see." from "The World Was Wide Enough"
Wiping away the tears from going anywhere near the last three songs of this musical, this line is probably the most memorable from Hamilton's soliloquy during his final duel. Hamilton spends so much of his life obsessed with his station and his legacy that, to come to this realization just as he's about to die, is heart-wrenching. Kudos for that, Mr. Miranda. For me, this lyrical stood as a message to focus on life while you're living it because you don't get to see what you leave behind. I wonder what Hamilton would think if he saw his legacy now.
"History has its eyes on you." from "History Has Its Eyes On You"
There's a reason why this line was the title of the song. This lyric is repeated throughout the play as a reminder to Hamilton that the world is watching (and, a little bit, to try to convince him to be a smidge less candid. No dice.). But this line is so much more than that. I think this resonates with all of us, even those who aren't fortunate enough to be Founding Fathers with our faces on paper money. No matter what we do, we all leave something behind. We all leave a legacy. But "what is a legacy...?" Just kidding. I won't get all meta on you!
"You have no control. Who lives, who dies, who tells your story." from "History Has Its Eyes On You"
I took a cue from the great Lin-Manuel Miranda in saving this incredible line for last. These two sentences, with added emphasis on the last one, capture the essence of the entire show: the idea that we don't get to write our own legacy once we're gone. Interpretations of history shift, people rise and fall from grace in the eyes of their descendants, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. All we can do is live to the best of our abilities. Well, that, and pray that Lin-Manuel Miranda gets a hold of our future biographies.
Of course, there are hundreds of other, beautifully crafted lines throughout this show that we could have mentioned, but we just don't have that Hamiltonian stamina.
If you're hungry for more Hamilton, be sure to watch Hamilton's America tonight at 9/8c on PBS! Watch a trailer for the documentary below.