25 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About The Songs From “Hamilton” That Are Simply The Best

25 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About The Songs From “Hamilton” That Are Simply The Best

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the melody that is used for “Story of Tonight” when he was 16 years old.


First, the opening verses of “Alexander Hamilton” were originally going to be a monologue by Burr, and it was only when Lin-Manuel Miranda realized he could turn his idea into a musical that it became the opening of the show.


In the book Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin explained, “It wasn’t until we realized we were writing a musical that we began to divvy up the monologue among the people who bore witness to Hamilton’s life.”


Also, one of the inspirations for having all of the characters on stage before Hamilton’s entrance was the prologue of Sweeney Todd.


Lin explained in Hamilton: The Revolution that he liked how all of the characters “set the stage for our main man’s entrance.”


Lin wrote the music and lyrics for Hamilton in so many different places — he wrote “Wait for It” on the A train, “You’ll Be Back” on his honeymoon, and “Dear Theodosia” in the Dominican Republic.


In fact, all of those places are featured in the “Special Thanks” portion of the Hamilton credits.


Hugh Laurie actually came up with the phrase “You’ll be back” when talking to Lin about King George’s relationship with the colonies.

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Lin recalled the moment in Hamilton: The Revolution, saying, “I told him I wanted to write a breakup letter from King George to the colonies. Without blinking, he improv’d at me, ‘Awwww, you’ll be back,’ wagging his finger. I laughed and filed it away.”


After the first performances of Hamilton at the Public Theater, two extra bars of music were added after the “Immigrants. We get the job done” line in “Yorktown” because the applause was so loud it drowned out the next verse.



Also, the last section of “Dear Theodosia” was originally going to be sung by the entire company, not just Hamilton and Burr.


In Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin said that they switched it from being sung by the entire company since it came between “Yorktown” and “Non-Stop,” two big numbers that already featured everyone.


In “Your Obedient Servant,” the line “Here’s an itemized list of 30 years of disagreements” is an homage to Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation.

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In Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin explained, “[This is] such a Leslie Knope thing to do.”


There was originally a song called “Congratulations” that came between “The Reynolds Pamphlet” and “Burn” — some of the lines from the song are included in Angelica’s portion of “The Reynolds Pamphlet.”


You can listen to Renée Elise Goldsberry performing the song here.


Both “Cabinet Battle #1” and “Cabinet Battle #2” were inspired by 8 Mile and Jay Z’s The Blueprint.



In “My Shot,” the cadence of how Hamilton, Lafayette, Mulligan, and Laurens spell “Alexander” is reminiscent of Notorious B.I.G. spelling his own name in the song “Going Back to Cali.”


In Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin said he was calling on “all of the East Coast rap gods” during this verse.


Lin actually wrote the melody that is used for “Story of Tonight” when he was 16 years old — he used it for a song he had written at the time and realized it worked perfectly for this moment.


In Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin explained, “When it came time to write this number for the show, that melody did everything I wanted this scene to do.”


“Helpless” and “Satisfied” were both already written before Lin came up with “The Schuyler Sisters” — the song became a way to see the sisters in a “non-romantic place” and show off their intelligence.



The original name for “Helpless” was “This One’s Mine” — the final version was Lin’s second attempt at the song.


In Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin said he played “This One’s Mine” for his wife and she felt like it wasn’t finished, so he went back and worked on it.


In fact, Lin explained that the only line that remains from “This One’s Mine” is the phrase “Grab my sister, and whisper, ‘Yo, this one’s mine.'”



The structure of “Helpless” was inspired by Ashanti and Ja Rule’s songs, which usually consisted of “two verses, two choruses, a guest rap feature, then back to the chorus and around.”


On The Hamilton Mixtape album, Ashanti and Ja Rule sing “Helpless” too.


The line “If it takes fighting a war for us to meet, it will have been worth it” in “Helpless” and “Satisfied” is actually a haiku — Lin explained that Hamilton had to win over Eliza fast, so only a haiku would do.



The music for “Satisfied” actually came from a song Lin wrote years prior alongside Karen Olivo for a project that never happened.


Lin explained in Hamilton: The Revolution that he called Karen and asked if he could use the tune without her lyrics, and she happily agreed.


One of the last lines added to Hamilton was Lafayette’s second fast rap in “Guns and Ships.”


Lin decided to add it in for Daveed Diggs simply because they were all so impressed with his sense of rhythm.


Daveed Diggs actually improvised Jefferson’s “Uh…France” line during “What’d I Miss” and they decided to keep it in.



There was originally a different Macbeth quote in “Take a Break,” but Lin changed it after a lot of people said it was “too obscure.”


Lin originally had a quote from Macbeth Act 5, Scene 1 that said, “They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly, but bear-like, I must fight the course.”


“Say No to This” originally started with “When I’m alone in my room, sometimes I stare at the wall,” which is a lyric from LL Cool J’s “I Need Love.”


Lin ended up cutting the reference, saying, “I felt like it was the wrong laugh leading into the scene. That’s a moment where we see Hamilton leave his family, and this new woman just comes out of nowhere. I don’t want people laughing at the top of that song.”


The line “Nobody needs to know” at the end of “Say No to This” is a reference to the song from The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown.


Lin called Jason and asked him if it was okay to use the words and make this reference.


Jefferson’s verse that starts with “I’m in the cabinet I am complicit in” during “Washington on Your Side” was inspired by Kendrick Lamar.


In Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin said, “[Kendrick’s] the master of these polysyllabic gems that seem to go off the rails but are so perfect that the music has no choice but to stop and meet him on the other side.”


And finally, Burr was originally going to narrate “It’s Quiet Uptown,” but Lin realized it would be better for Angelica to be part of this Hamilton and Eliza moment.


Lin explained in Hamilton: The Revolution, saying, “It completes [Angelica’s] arc in the most unexpected, satisfying way possible. For her to bear witness to the lives of Alexander and Eliza is the role she chose in ‘Satisfied.'”

If you want to learn even more facts about Hamilton, you can buy Hamilton: The Revolution here.

Get your Disney+ subscription now for $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year so you can watch Hamilton until your heart’s content.

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