Lin-Manuel Miranda's smash Broadway musical Hamilton — which recounts the events of 240 years ago — keeps looming large in our very current political discourse, from Hamilton's role in the establishment of the Electoral College to Mike Pence's night at the theater and the ensuing Trumpian call for a safe-space for vulnerable politicians who have only their status as the second-most powerful man on the planet to defend themselves from the terrifyingly mild petitions delivered by actual, globe-striding singing fellows.
Hamilton's fame is entirely justified. We literally sing it all day long in our house. We've had to ban our daughter from belting it out at top volume in the car. The music's score, lyrics and performances are among the best to ever emerge from musical theater.
Last month, Miranda announced a forthcoming Hamilton "mixtape" full of demos, remixes, and covers, and people who pre-ordered (like me) have been treated to a trickle of early release tracks, some of which were as good or better than the original score, some of which were not my cup of tea.
But today, the whole album dropped, and we've been listening to it in heavy rotation, and I would like to commend one track to your attention: Valley Forge (Demo) [Explicit], which was the precursor to this track on the final soundtrack.
That's the track that's riven me, speaking directly to the part of me that is terrified by the taking of the White House by a out-and-our fascist who is packing his cabinet with literal criminals — the part of me that's spent a month working feverishly with other activists to figure out how we're going to fight this monster and win our way through to something better.
It's a track that mixes the Allan Ginsberg and Martin Luther King, that speaks of victory and defeat, that is about suffering losses without surrender, that is scathing on the subject of "allies" who decide that collaborating to protect themselves is more important than fighting to win, but still expect you to carry the struggle. It gave me shivers.
Valley Forge (Demo) [Explicit] [Lin-Manuel Miranda/Hamilton Mixtape]
Hamilton Mixtape [Lin-Manuel Miranda]