A Hypothetical Interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda

solomon_hamilton_otuYou have inevitably heard of Hamilton. Whether you’re a fan of (or remotely pay attention to) theater and caught it on the first wave of hype, or you’ve seen any of the residual hype on every single news outlet ever – including, but not limited to: the cast’s performance at the White House; creator and lead player Lin-Manual Miranda’s efforts to keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill; and the posts and tweets of every celebrity that’s been to see it and raved about it afterward – you’ve heard of the revolutionary musical that’s creating its own kind of revolution.

For the readers that are nodding “Yeah, I’ve heard of that, but I have no idea what it is,” here are some quick facts.

Hamilton is a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton and the other founding fathers. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and currently stars in the show on Broadway, where it’s been playing at the Richard Rodgers Theater since August 6, 2015. Since the workshops for the show began, it has been a sensation. The book about the show’s evolution to revolution, written by Jeremy McCarter and Lin-Manuel Miranda and including annotated lyrics by Miranda, has flown off the shelves since its release on April 12 (I preordered mine). To be very unoriginal, the production and its ripple effect are non-stop.

Because of all of this hype and coverage, there is very little I can say about the show itself that hasn’t already been said many, many times. So, instead of raving about the musical itself (which I could do for hours on end), I’m going to talk about the man behind the revolution: Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Lin-Manuel__Corey_Hayes_Photog3.jpg.250x250_q85Though my career path has parted ways with journalism, my favorite part of writing for a newspaper was doing personality profiles. I loved to just sit down with someone and talk to them for a few hours, and then write their story. I think that’s where I originally found my passion for stories.

What I’d like to do now is share with you some questions from my hypothetical interview with Lin-Manual Miranda. I still think like a journalist, and the things that Miranda has done fascinate and astound me as a writer, storyteller, and fan. If there were any one person I would want to sit down with, and be able to write that two thousand word feature profile on, it would be him.

A little part of my brain is saying “If you write it down and put it on the internet, there’s at least a fraction of a chance he may read it someday.” I can dream, right?


Alright, here we go.

  1. The song that actually got me hooked on Hamilton was “Farmer Refuted”, because I couldn’t believe how well the words and timing lined up, and it fascinated me as a writer and a musician that it just worked. What kind of process is it to make the meaning you’re looking for and the words that fit all come together like that?

  2. In the book, it talked a lot about roles being written for or adapted to the actors that were workshopping the parts. Obviously every actor brings their own touch to a part, but with a show that seems to take so much investment from the actors, are you looking for future productions to find someone that can be another Daveed Diggs (for example), or do you expect the part of Thomas Jefferson to change to some extent?

  3. I do follow you on Twitter, and I love it. You actually liked a Tweet of mine once – it was an exciting day. About how many notifications do you get in a day and how on Earth do you keep up with them?

  4. This is pretty cliche, but I do have to ask: which is your favorite song to perform every night?

  5. In every technical sense of the phrase, Hamilton is out-performing In the Heights – the first Broadway musical that you wrote and then opened as the leading role [I assume he doesn’t need that clarification, but for all you readers]. Will it be harder to leave this show?

  6. Do you ever sleep?

  7. I’m sure you’ve been asked this a fafillion times, and I could find any number of interviews with the answer, but I have to hear it for myself: what was it about Alexander Hamilton that made you say “This is the story that people need to hear”?

  8. Does the impact of this show (speaking in terms of long-term impact) that you anticipated when you started writing it line up with the one you see now? Has your vision for Hamilton changed at all in the last seven years?

  9. Okay, here’s the last one. The question that I’m dying to ask you, and would have you answer over all the rest of these, has nothing to do with Hamilton. As a writer, and someone that’s obsessed with stories and the concept of storytelling, I have to ask you how you find stories that haven’t been told, or that somebody wants to hear. How do you know that the story you have in your head is worth telling?

Now if only there were answers to my questions. But alas, there are not, so I will continue to live my life not knowing how Lin-Manuel Miranda sorts through his Twitter feed.

Miracles do happen, though, so do me a solid and share this on your social media of choice and maybe I can give you all the inside scoop on Hamilton sometime soon. You never know, right?

[I feel like I just put a message in a bottle and I’m going to wonder for the rest of my life if it ever washed up on my hero’s beach.]



The everything Garth Brooks post

garth-brooks-650-430This post falls into the “and more” of my blog content. Music is just as important to my life as movies are, and when you talk about the music that’s important to my life, Garth Brooks makes the top of every list. Favorite artist, favorite music, favorite message, favorite person, favorite performer, etc.. I’ve been talking about him for my entire life, but in light of recent events (which I’ll address next), I felt it time to put my love for this man into some carefully considered words, instead of the blubbering and rambling that usually comes of trying.

Before I begin, I need to make sure that you’re familiar with who Garth Brooks is, exactly. Statistically, and this is straight from garthbrooks.com, he “has been certified by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as the top-selling solo artist of the 20th century with 134 million albums.” He released his first album in 1989, appropriately titled Garth Brooks, and his first number one was his second single, “If Tomorrow Never Comes”.

Here’s the plot twist: he retired in 2001, to be a dad. Walking away from a life of touring and recording, he was (almost) completely retired for 13 years. Then on December 8th, 2013, he announced that because of the graduation of his youngest daughter from high school, he was going to come out of retirement, and World Tour 2014 was born.

Since then, he’s been holding his millions of fans on the perpetual edge of their seats. He garth-brooks-dublin-2014announces another stop on the world tour every few weeks or so with two or three concert dates, and then when the tickets sell out (in the first few minutes of their release), he adds a few more dates.

There’s not really a good place in this post to insert this comment, so I’m just throwing it in right here: he’s a giant dork, and that’s a good chunk of why I love him so much.

Break from Garth Brook’s history, switch to mine. I’ve had Garth Brooks in my life for…well, my entire life. My grandparents are among the millions who adore this man’s music. They went to a concert on one of his first tours, and my grandma will say to this day that it was one of the most emotional days of her life. They went to one of his first concerts on the current world tour, in Chicago, and my grandma’s only description was “I cried. Several times.”

When I was a little kid, I would crack my grandparents up, because the only words I ever remembered from “Rodeo”, the song of his that was my favorite to listen to, were “the spurs and the latigo”, and I would just sing it over and over again. That was the beginning of my love affair with Garth Brooks’ music.

Fast forward to December 8th, 2014: I wake up to a text from my grandma at 9:53 am, telling me that Garth Brooks announced Detroit as the next tour stop. Sure enough, I go to the website and there is the headline that I’ve been waiting to see for 18 years. I remember the date, because when I looked at my Timehop that day (for those who don’t know the lingo, it’s an app that lets you look at what you posted on Facebook on that particular day in years past), I realized that it was one year, to the day, after he announced the tour on Good Morning America.

Two weeks later, December 19th, tickets went on sale at 10 am. Everything played out exactly as I imagined it would. The concerts sold out in ten minutes, I cried a little bit, then he added a few more shows, and I managed to get three tickets (one for me, two for my grandparents) for the very last concert he’ll be playing in Detroit. The date of said concert is February 28th, 2015. Five days from now, I will be at Joe Louis Arena, watching Garth Brooks perform live, and I still don’t believe that the full impact of this fact has set in yet.

If you’re still reading at this point, I applaud you, because this is when the post actually begins to have content.

Garth-Brooks-and-Trisha-Yearwood-Twister-Relief-Concert-CountryMusicIsLoveI have so much respect for Garth Brooks. I respect him for the way that he walked away from an insane career to be a father. I respect him for the way that he refers to his wife as “Miss Trisha Yearwood”, no matter the venue or the audience. I respect him for the way that every single word he sings or speaks is so backed with passion for what he does. Most of all, though, I respect him for the way that he treats fans and the way that he treats music.

I’m not sure how to make my point clearer than by showing you, and the perfect example is this clip from his Live at the Wynn concert DVD.

The clip includes the dialogue after the song, but not before, so I’ll provide the context:

Garth explains that the song they’re about to sing was written by another couple, and it’s about that point in a relationship where two people decide that “maybe being together isn’t the best thing for them,” and that he and Trisha were at this point about ten years ago in their relationship. After he says that, he looks at Trisha and says “This would be so much easier if I wasn’t so in love with this woman.” And that’s where the clip begins.

Here are the things I want you to take away from this:

  1.  “This would be so much easier if I wasn’t so in love with this woman.” Singing a song with Trisha Yearwood about a time when he thought he had to leave her is difficult for him, not only because he loves her that much, but because music is so real to him, and such a passionate experience, that singing this song takes him back to that time and that feeling.
  2.  He takes off his headset to say “I love you” when the song is over. I don’t really know exactly why that makes me so happy, but it does. That says to me that he’s not saying it for anyone’s benefit but hers. Another sign of his genuine good nature.
  3. Again, what he says before the song starts. They choose this song to perform because it’s where they were in their relationship. And he makes a point of saying that it’s where every couple is at some time. Garth Brooks is a storyteller. He knows that people feel these things – and it’s not always the good things, either – and he tells the stories that people listen to and say “I’ve been there.” I want more than anything to be a storyteller – that’s why I’m a journalist, that’s why I love movies, that’s why I love music. And I don’t think there’s a greater storyteller than one who tells the truth.

I think that I’ve said everything I can. If you read all of this rambling and even watched the video, thank you so much. I don’t expect everyone who reads this to become a Garth fanatic like me, but I hope that maybe you liked the song and you might decide you want to give his music a shot. If that’s the case, stay tuned for my new page, coming soon: “The Garth Brooks starter kit”.