We drove out of Spokane out along the back country roads saying a fond farewell to Washington State. We're heading east into Idaho, Montana, and beyond.
"I made every mistake and felt the shame rise in me and even now I lie awake knowing history has its eyes on me." -Hamilton, the Musical
American road trips are made for American music, and I'm no dummy. Like lyrical juice boxes and Costco snack-packs, I've stuffed my kids so full of Chinese language tapes and Korean audio vocabulary lessons and books on tape. Just this trip alone we've read Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and Ryan's Esperanza Rising and London's Call of the Wild.... but what about music?
"Let me tell you what I wish I'd known..." -Hamilton, the Musical
How else do you introduce your kids to Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly and Little Richard, Ray Charles and James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis and.... well pulling the car off on the roadside to take a knee while Johnny Cash sings about... the Beast in Me.
"When I was young and dreamed of glory..." -Hamilton, the Musical
Parents need to take their time with these things. Plan it out. Books. Language. Music. Travel. These early childhood memories are the soundtrack to a person's life, and one of the things often overlooked, or completely dominated by Disney, is the Great American musical. Parents! Don't sleep on Mary Poppins and West Side Story. Don't overlook Grease and Guys and Dolls, The King and I, and Singing in the Rain. Don't pass over The Music Man and Fiddler on the Roof and The South Pacific.... and certainly, without question, don't duck and weave on Lin Manuel Miranda's Hamilton.
"You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story." -Hamilton, the Musical
Now, I know what you're going to say. Tickets are almost a thousand dollars and who can just fly off to New York for a show? Even seats in my local Portland theater are off the charts... but the soundtrack is different. Just hearing the songs of the life of Alexander Hamilton, his childhood in the Caribbean and how he ended up in New York, his rise to become George Washington's principal aide and their struggles in the Revolutionary War, his post-war legal career in New York and work on 'The Federalist Papers' and which thrust him into political life, which created allies and enemies in Adams and Madison, his affair with Maria Reynolds which ultimately destroyed his political career but not before casting the crucial vote for the Presidency that allowed Jefferson to ascend, and Burr to challenge him to a duel, the most famous duel in American history.
"I know that we can win I know that greatness lies in you..." -Hamilton, the Musical
Ah, the duel. Hamilton and Burr meeting in the early morning in Weehawken on the New Jersey shores overlooking Manhattan. Hamilton firing first, a shot straight into the air, and Burr, steadying his aim, landing a bullet in Hamilton's breast, killing him the following day, realizing too late that revenge cost him his place in history. Yes, Hamilton, that musical.
"But remember from here on in, history has its eyes on you." -Hamilton, the Musical
There's a lot of music to listen to in the car, just as there are many roads one can travel down. Although my heart is still with the Great American Musical canon, allowing a new one to enter is just fine with me. Cruising through Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and into Montana, singing along with Hamilton... I'm still smiling.