Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Top 50 Songs of the Decade, #15 - "Burn" and "It's Quiet Uptown," Hamilton (Original Broadway Soundtrack)

"Hamilton: An American Musical" was the greatest cultural event of the 2010s.  It was also, perhaps, the most unexpected cultural event of the 2010s.  Back at the turn of the decade, one certainly could have gotten good odds for a prediction along the lines of "Yeah, I'm thinking a Broadway musical about one of the founding fathers...you know, the guy who wrote some of The Federalist Papers, shot by Aaron Burr, that guy...that will definitely be the sensation that people talk about for decades!"

The only word to describe the show is remarkable.  There are an incredible number of great songs in the musical; the pace never really lags at any time.  And while it's understandable that the cost and the limited number of venues have made it difficult for many people to see it live, if such an opportunity arises everyone should avail themselves of it.  As great an experience listening to the soundtrack album is, it pales in comparison to seeing the show performed live.

Because it's my list, when the issue of declaring these two songs being in a tie came up, I ruled in my favor and went with both.  And I'm going with both because they represent the emotional heart of the story.  They both appear in the second act, and they chronicle how things fell apart between Alexander and Eliza; and how, under the most tragic circumstances, they came back together.

First, "Burn":



I'm erasing myself from the narrative
Let future historians wonder how Eliza reacted
When you broke her heart
You have torn it all apart
I'm watching it burn
Watching it burn
The world has no right to my heart
The world has no place in our bed
They don't get to know what I said
I'm burning the memories
Burning the letters that might have redeemed you
You forfeit all rights to my heart
You forfeit the place in our bed
You'll sleep in your office instead
With only the memories of when you were mine
I hope that you burn

And then, "It's Quiet Uptown":



There are moments when the words don't reach
There is a grace too powerful to name
We push away what we can never understand
We push away the unimaginable
They are standing in the garden
Alexander by Eliza's side
She takes his hand

It's quiet uptown

So...where to begin?  Thank you Alexander and Eliza Hamilton for being who you were, thank you Ron Chernow for writing the definitive biography, thank you Lin Manuel Miranda for deciding to read the book on vacation, and then turning your substantial genius to this work.  Thank you to the incredible cast, not just the original cast with so many leading lights, but also the wonderful cast we were privileged to see in Chicago, in October 2018.

Top 50 Songs of the Decade, #15 - "Burn" and "It's Quiet Uptown," from Hamilton: An American Musical: Original Broadway Soundtrack.

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