“When I finished writing the song I was like, ‘Why am I not playing Burr?!'”
Song Exploder just dropped on Netflix, and it’s pretty dang cool. Cooler still, the second episode features Lin-Manuel Miranda talking about “Wait For It,” one of the songs from Hamilton.
Song Exploder is a docu-series based on a podcast of the same name in which songwriters talk about writing their biggest hits.
You probably know this, but Hamilton is a pretty big deal, and “Wait For It” is a pretty great song. In fact, Lin-Manuel himself says it might be the best song he’s ever written.
I have to agree. No offense to “Satisfied,” but “Wait For It” and “The Room Where It Happens” (both Burr songs) are the best ones in the show.
The song turned out so good, in fact, that it made him question why he had decided to play Alexander Hamilton instead of Aaron Burr, the character who sings it in the show.
“When I finished writing the song I was like, ‘Why am I not playing Burr?’ I would see how that song would bring down the house and I remember thinking […] ‘I’ve made a huge mistake.'”
As far as the concept of the song, Lin-Manuel talked about wanting something that was the opposite of “My Shot,” the song that Hamilton sings early on in the show.
Watch @lin_manuel unpack how @HamiltonMusical’s “Wait For It” came to be. #SongExploder a new series based on the beloved podcast – is now streaming on Netflix.
Ultimately, it came down to the core difference between the two characters, despite their many similarities.
“This is a guy who is scared of losing what he has, as opposed to Hamilton who has nothing to lose and is just ready to get everything he can.”
He also talked about the moment he became inspired to write the song, which happened as he was on the subway heading to his friend’s birthday party.
He shared a pretty funny voice memo of himself as he sort of sang the chorus of the song so he wouldn’t forget it, complete with panting because he was out of breath from walking.
The artistic process, ladies and gents!
Lin, along with Hamilton’s musical director Alex Lacamoire and director Thomas Kail, talked about the way the song evolved from the demo, to the musical arrangement, to the final version that appeared on the cast album, and how it shaped their understanding of Aaron Burr as a character.
Theo Wargo / Getty Images
Kail said that he doesn’t see Burr as a villain, but rather someone who makes you ask, “If you are judged by your worst day, who would any of us be?”
Finally, Lin talked about relating to both Hamilton and Burr at different points of the creative process.
“I understood Hamilton because when I started the show I had so much to prove. I’m on the other side of the phenomenon that it’s become, and I find myself scared of losing what I’ve got…so I probably relate more to Burr than I ever have.”
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