Hi everyone! So as the title says, I’m sharing my favorite lyrics from the first act of the musical Hamilton. This is a collab with Angela from TheLifeofAngela! She is a fellow Hamilton fan and it’s been so fun fangirling with her. So while I am sharing my favorite lyrics from Act 1, Angela is doing Act 2 over on her blog so be sure to check it out! Turns out we have similar favorites so it works out perfectly!
I’ve talked about Hamilton a few times on this blog. I’ve done my Hamilton musical review and my Hamilton book tag posts, and a few other random ones as well. So I’m sure most of you know I’m a fan. Unless you’re new, in which case welcome!
If you’re still unsure if I’m a fan, here’s the proof! I have listened to the album countless times and have the CDs constantly playing in my car and listen to two Hamilton based podcasts. I’ve started reading the biography by Ron Chernow that the musical was inspired by and have the Hamilton: the Revolution or “Hamiltome” book by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. In fact I’ve been to a lecture by McCarter about the book. I was lucky enough to score tickets to Hamilton the first week after the Chicago previews at the CBIC Theatre, formally known as the PrivateBank Theatre, and will see it again soon in the same venue but in much closer seats. I am getting so excited! (Let me know if you’re interested in a new review as it’ll be different people in some of the roles, and I really only talked about a few specific parts in the previous one.)
Have I convinced you yet? I am Hamilton obsessed!
If you haven’t heard or seen the musical I’ll say that while I tried my best to avoid super major spoilers but it’s pretty spoilery as the musical is pretty much entirely sung through. Maybe give the album a listen first if you think this might bother you. But as it’s very historically accurate (not entirely but it’s pretty close) you may already know a large portion of the story. My point is basically if you don’t know Hamilton’s specific story this will be spoilery but otherwise it won’t.
Okay so this is getting long already and there a lot of lyrics to talk about so I’d best get into it.
And onto the lyrics!
This is the first song we hear that introduces not only Alexander Hamilton, but the entire story too. We not only cover the first 20 or so years of his life as he grows up in the Caribbean and until he arrives in New York City. *The video above is a performance the cast did at White House during President Obama’s term. They performed this song at the 2016 Grammys but I was unable to find that footage unfortunately. It’s quite lengthy as President Obama introduces the cast so the song doesn’t start until around the 9minute mark!
And there’s a million things I haven’t done/But just you wait, just you wait
This lyric just resonates so strongly with me. I feel like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alexander Hamilton are kindred spirits just through this line. It perfectly captures the anticipation you feel as you go along the wild ride that the musical takes us on.
Aaron Burr, Sir
So I don’t know if this is a spoiler or not, considering this event happened in 1804 but Hamilton is ultimately killed by Aaron Burr. So this song goes over when Hamilton and Burr meet for the first time in NYC.
If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?
So this lyric is sung from Hamilton to Burr. At this point the song is nearly over and we have seen Burr establish himself as Hamilton’s opposite. While Hamilton will leap to take an opportunity, Burr will sit back and watch the events unfold until he can step into the situation. Here Hamilton challenges Burr to take a stand.
Immediately after meeting Burr (in the musical) Hamilton finds himself establishing a friendship with John Laurens, Hercules Mulligan, and the Marquis de Lafayette and together dream of freedom and the country they’ll help create. *Another Obama White House performance!
I’m just like my country/I’m young, scrappy and hungry/And I’m not throwing away my shot
I just love how fun this lyric is! It’s a line filled with the country’s hopes and dreams in the form of three amazingly passionate young revolutionaries.
The Story of Tonight
So after a couple drinks the new friends reflect on their goals and aspirations, as well take us on a more serious reflection on their endeavours.
Raise a glass to freedom/Something they can never take away/No matter what they tell you/Raise a glass to the four of us/Tomorrow there’ll be more of us/Telling the story of tonight
While we know what will happen (war, danger, etc.) these lyrics foreshadow what will happen and do so beautifully.
The Schuyler Sisters
This is one of my favorite songs on the entire album. We meet the three Schuyler sisters, Angelica, Eliza, AND PEGGY. All three sisters are so charming and full of a love of life. *This is the performance at the end of the 2016 Tonys. It’s not the best quality and the credits are rolling, plus it’s a short version but it’s so fun! The full song is below though.
Excuse me, miss, I know it’s not funny/But your perfume smells like your daddy’s got money
I picked more than one lyric because of how much I love this song. This lyric just really makes me laugh!
I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine/So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane/You want a revolution? I want a revelation/So listen to my declaration:/“We hold these truths to be self-evident/That all men are created equal”/And when I meet Thomas Jefferson/I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel!
A long one I know, but I love how self-assured Angelica is in this lyric. She’s so smart and aware of the world around her, and determined to give Jefferson a piece of her mind because how dare he leave out an entire gender!
Look around, look around at how/Lucky we are to be alive right now!
I’m just so obsessed with this song. I guess I just love the overly optimistic lines best! Eliza’s my favorite character and this line of hers is such a great outlook to have in the face of a war staring them down. Fun fact, Phillipa Soo, who originated the role, grew up in a town that I pass everyday on my way to work. What a small world!
You’ll Be Back
Ah King George. Such a great character and we barely get to see him! He’s the king during the Revolutionary War back in England, and this is the ultimate “crazy ex” song.
You’ll be back like before/I will fight the fight and win the war…/Cuz when push comes to shove/I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love
This is mostly included because it’s my mom’s favorite line. She hadn’t listened to the album at all before seeing the musical and this was the part she loved the best.
Right Hand Man
Enter General George Washington! The war is in full swing now and Washington is looking for an aide to help him keep order. Enter Hamilton!
I’m being honest/I’m working with a third of what our Congress has promised/We are a powder keg about to explode/I need someone like you to lighten the load. So?
I really do like all of this song but this lyric where Washington asks Hamilton to become his “right hand man” reminds me of Hamilton challenging Burr earlier. Unlike Burr, Hamilton dives right in and takes the challenge set forth by Washington.
Eliza is my favorite of the Schuyler sisters and here she meets and marries Alexander Hamilton!
Then you walked in and my heart went “Boom!”/Tryin’ to catch your eye from the side of the ballroom/Everybody’s dancin’ and the band’s top volume/Grind to the rhythm as we wine and dine/Grab my sister, and/Whisper, “Yo, this/One’s mine.”
I once had a roommate who said that she could see this happening to me. This was before Hamilton but if it had existed then, she likely would have referenced this song. Either way, I love how Eliza takes one look at Hamilton and instantly knows that they’re meant to be.
Now it’s Angelica’s turn to shine. Here we see “Helpless” play out but this time from Angelica’s point of view. And here she reveals that she loves Hamilton as well.
I know my sister like I know my own mind/You will never find anyone as trusting or as kind
Despite loving Hamilton herself, Angelica puts Eliza’s love over her own. Her sacrifice for her sister’s happiness is so remarkable and beautiful. I love how the two songs complement each other. While Eliza’s “Helpless” is youthful and upbeat, Angelica’s “Satisfied” is a more mature and restrained. Renee Elise Goldsberry is just incredible in this.
Wait for It
Burr’s back! This time we see him after having attended Hamilton’s wedding and revealing he’s in love with a married woman, whose husband is actually a British officer. Hamilton again challenges Burr to go after her, Theodosia, but he instead chooses to, well, wait. *The above is a 360 video of the cast on the stage singing a part of Wait for It. I’ll include the full song below!
And if there’s a reason I’m still alive/When everyone who loves me has died/I’m willing to wait for it
We do get to understand Burr a lot more here. He’s hesitant to move forward because he keeps looking back at all that he’s lost. While Hamilton takes his past and uses it as fuel to keep going, Burr uses it as a cautionary tale. At this point I can’t really blame Burr, he’s who he is and he will keep comparing himself to Hamilton because that’s who his biggest competition is. Leslie Odom Jr. is just the perfect Burr as this song and “The Room Where it Happens” in Act 2 are some of the best songs on the album and he nails them!
Now we get to experience our first battle in the musical, Washington places Charles Lee in charge of the army, but he fails miserably at it.
I’m sorry, is this not your speed?!
This song was hard to pick for because it’s all so good and flows together so nicely but ultimately I had to go with this one. Washington is literally yelling this to Lee from the level above as Lee orders the army to retreat, against Washington’s orders. Washington, always so poised and collected, lets Lee have it with this one line. I love it!
Ten Dual Commandments
So after Lee is fired he badmouths Washington, which angers Hamilton and Laurens. Laurens challenges Lee to a duel with Hamilton and Burr as their seconds, respectively.
Look ‘em in the eye, aim no higher/Summon all the courage you require
Again, another that just flows so well it’s hard to pick! But I went with this one because Burr and Hamilton literally just finished talking about how silly duels are but yet here we are. So ridiculous!
That Would Be Enough
So after the duel Washington sends Hamilton home to think about what he’s done. Pretty much. But we soon find out that Eliza actually asked Washington to send Hamilton home because she’s expecting their first child.
Look at where you are/Look at where you started/The fact that you’re alive is a miracle/Just stay alive, that would be enough
Poor Eliza really tries to convince Hamilton in this one that just by surviving as much as he has thus far he’s accomplished so much. But like any other crazy ambitious person, it’s not enough for Hamilton and he’s focused on the next great thing he can accomplish. While I love Eliza, I relate more closely to Hamilton in this one but we always need those key people to slow us down enough to reflect on all that we’ve done.
Guns and Ships
Lafayette works to convince Washington to send for Hamilton for the final battle of the war. In order to win, Lafayette is certain that they need Hamilton as the two are very similar and often think of the strategy at the same time. Remember, this was before cell phones!
You know you gotta get ya right hand man back/I mean you gotta put some thought into the letter but the sooner the better/To get your right hand man back!
First of all, I’d like to point out that I’m really good at rapping “Guns and Ships”. I never thought I’d have that in my skill set! Second, Lafayette does such a great job at advocating for Hamilton and supporting his friend. Third, Daveed Diggs can still sing this better than I can so just listen to him.
History Has It’s Eyes on You
Hamilton is back! And now Washington is welcoming him and giving him some cautionary advice as well.
Let me tell you what I wish I’d known/When I was young and dreamed of glory:/You have no control:/Who lives, who dies, who tells your story
I absolutely love this line because it’s such a great reminder that no matter what, your story will ultimately be told by others after you can no longer tell it yourself, so it’s important to live your life and enjoy. Living your best life is all you can do.
The Battle of Yorktown
Again, not a spoiler because it happened in 1781 but the America wins the war! And in this song Hamilton & Co tell us how they did it. *The above is the 2016 Tonys performance by the cast! Normally it’s performed with prop rifles but they were taken out due to the tragic events at the Pulse night club in Orlando. You can still see it in the choreography but I don’t think it really changes the song. They still performed beautifully. President and Mrs. Obama introduce the cast here too, but not for quite as long!
And as our fallen foes retreat/I hear the drinking song they’re singing…/The world turned upside down
So something that I’ve hear a lot at work is how you need to pause for a bit of a break before jumping to the next task. This is kind of the same thing. As they watch the British leave, America takes a moment to breathe and take in their new freedom. I love how the cast does this exact moment, because you can really feel it sink into the emotions they play.
What Comes Next?
After fighting for so long and so hard, but ultimately losing, King George poses a question to the new country across the sea.
Well, even despite our estrangement, I’ve got/A small query for you:/What comes next?/You’ve been freed/Do you know how hard it is to lead?
It seems impossible that the Founding Fathers had gone through all of that only to not plan what would happen after the war but that’s pretty much what they did. I suppose it’s a kind of “if I make dinner someone else washes the dishes” mentality but in this case, no one was really ready to set up a new country. These are the key details that are missed apparently!
So eventually everyone figures out that someone needs to form a government and luckily for us, Hamilton is involved in that! Just like “Alexander Hamilton”, “Non-Stop” covers a lot of ground very quickly, picking up after the war ends to the formation of a new government.
…public service seems to be calling me/I practiced the law, I practic’ly perfected it/I’ve seen injustice in the world and I’ve corrected it/Now for a strong central democracy
I ultimately had to pick two for this one. While Hamilton becomes a successful lawyer, he continues to dream of contributing more to his country and becomes an instrumental part in shaping the government into what it is today.
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?/Ev’ry second you’re alive? Ev’ry second you’re alive?
In this part the ensemble is gathered around Hamilton as he’s furiously writing. It just shows perfectly how “non-stop” Hamilton really is, he is constantly working and writing. Success takes work and Hamilton embodies that every step of the way.
So that was longer than I anticipated! Remember to check out Angela’s blog for Act 2. She has some really good lyrics over there!
If you’re a fellow Hamilton fan let me know and tell me if I missed any of your favorite lyrics. It’s so hard to narrow it down and keep this short so I’m sure I did!
Thanks for reading!
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