I’m not the best at keeping up with trends. Maybe it’s age, maybe I’m just perpetually up to my ears in my own peculiar interests, but I don’t always know what’s happening in pop culture at large, even in my own bailiwick.
Take “Hamilton”. I first became vaguely aware of the play only because a fellow writer mentioned it on Facebook. At the time I chalked up her enthusiasm to her subject matter (historical fiction set in 18th century America), but it didn’t take long before half the people I knew were swooning over the soundtrack. Had I heard it? Wasn’t it awesome?
And I hadn’t. A musical about a founding father sounded like an interesting trick to me but then, I’m a history nerd. Alas, I’m a lazy/distracted history nerd and didn’t go much beyond Googling the play. Rationalizing that I couldn’t get much out of a soundtrack to something I’d never seen (and wasn’t likely ever to be able to!) I wandered off into other things.
Then a friend played the opening “Alexander Hamilton” track for me. Hip hop and history – I like it! I mused aloud that putting historical fact to modern music would make it relatable and memorable.
It wasn’t until this past summer that my husband caught the bug, and at his urging I finally downloaded the soundtrack for the Jamestown roadtrip.
Every single track an earworm, memorable even on first hearing! Funny too – I didn’t know this was a comedy. Wait, it’s not – oh poor Eliza! Is this one about the Federalist Papers? Did this guy seriously just make dry political legalese cool?
I think I get it, finally. I’m not a “foaming-at-the-mouth-best-thing-since-sliced-bread” fan but I’m all in favor of translating history to appeal to modern audiences and “Hamilton” does this flawlessly. The new PBS making-of special is excellent, including not just performances but Miranda’s writing process: how he decided what to keep, cut, fictionalize, and compress from the historical record to tell a good story. Even the actors researched their characters, to the point of going to historic sites and collections [envy!]
So, I reckon I got there in the end. Anyone have something new to recommend?