This was an enjoyable challenge but it was a challenge all the same. As a regular sing-alonger I promised that I would push myself…and I did. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m in the midst of a serious obsession with the musical Hamilton. At home, it’s been looping so much that Andrew can probably sing it in his sleep. The rapid-fire lyrics and intricate rhymes can make many of the songs particularly tricky to sing accurately. Of course, I’ve never been afraid to just make up a lyric or kind of la-la-la it through a song if I can’t figure out what they’re saying. But since this was an official challenge I decided that la-la-la-ing wasn’t an option. It took me awhile to decide which song to choose. I love to sing almost all of them. However, like I said, some are much harder than others. I finally decided not on one song but two: “Helpless” and “Satisfied”, songs that are closely tied to each other. To master them, I dedicated the time it took me to get ready for work everyday, my commute time (only 5 mins!), and my time on the treadmill. Luckily, for anyone in ear-shot, my treadmill is in the garage so I can sing out loud during my workout, leaving the vocal quality even more compromised than usual. I need to add here that the speed of the lyrics in these songs left me feeling more than a little out of shape. These folks have some serious lung power. Singing along, even when not mid-workout, I usually sound like I’ve just climbed a flight of stairs. To be honest, that’s one of the ways I chose the songs. My choices aren’t as asthma-inducing, or honestly, as tongue-twisting. Being able to read the elaborate lyrics made it easier to learn what I was actually saying. Fortunately, I own the book HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION which has all of the lyrics and I had my own karaoke lounge every evening thanks to Amazon Music.
I realize one of the things that I love about this musical is that it is a celebration of history and a celebration of language, as well. I remember having a discussion about music and lyrics with my friend, Damon, back during our high school days, and stating that I was more interested in the lyrics of a song than the music. Now, keep in mind, we were probably 16-years-old during this conversation, so I’m sure it was deep and profound but it’s obviously stuck with me. I actually think the best songs combine music and lyrics in a way that causes an emotional reaction, anything from sadness to joy. Singing is like driving or reading, you can do it without thinking about it. We’ve all driven somewhere on autopilot and then thought, “wow” I don’t remember getting from there to here. Ever read aloud to a kid? Next time you do really THINK about each word that you are reading. It’s the magic that provides the connection between text and emotion. The same is true for music. The best singers are great not because of their voices but because they connect us to the emotion.
So, did you learn the words of a new favorite this week? Return to an old friend? Songs are like smells, they can transport you to time and place. They can be magical. This blog has grown up listening to the music of Hamilton. Every post has been written with those songs as soundtrack. They will always be connected for me. Maybe you’ll return to this shared time and place everytime you hear the song you tackled this week.
Before you go…the title of this post comes from lines in the songs in Hamilton sung by King George. They are belting lines. The kind you sing at the top of your voice. Every time I sing them they bring me joy!