History Has Its Eyes On You

Album: The Hamilton Mixtape (2016)

Songfacts®:

  • During the latter stages of the French and Indian War, a young George Washington was in command of a contingent of Virginians. They were part of the 1758 Forbes Expedition, a British military endeavor whose strategic objective was the capture of the French held Fort Duquesne. During the expedition, Washington was caught up a friendly fire episode in which his unit and another British unit thought the other was the French enemy and opened fire. 14 British soldiers were killed in the calamity and another 26 wounded. Washington resigned his commission in December 1758, and did not return to military life until the outbreak of the revolution sixteen and a half years later.

    The Broadway hip-hop show Hamilton tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton's rise to power during the American Revolution. In this song, George Washington recalls his disastrous first command, and advises Hamilton that no man can control how he is remembered.
  • The Hamilton musical was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He recalled to iHeartRadio:

    "(John Legend is) One of my absolute songwriting heroes, and one of the people I had in my head when I was writing the role of George Washington. I said, 'This has got to be someone who can sing like John Legend, rap like Common, and have a moral authority to sort of lead our nation.'"
  • The Hamilton Mixtape is a collection of remixes, covers, and samples of the musical's songs, which was released on December 2, 2016. Miranda was able to recruit John Legend to perform the new version of this tune. The "All Of Me" singer came up with a gospel-inspired arrangement for his interpretation. He recalled to Rolling Stone:

    "[Lin-Manuel Miranda] asked me to do that one, and if you read the casting notice when they originally cast George Washington, they said they wanted a John Legend type for it [laughs]. So I think he already saw that was the right song for me.

    But I decided I wanted to change the melody, change the chord progression, and make it feel like I wanted it to feel. I did kind of like a gospel version – and I sent it off and didn't even hear back from them! They didn't really say if they liked it. But they sent me a mix to approve and put it on their album, so they must have liked it enough."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

The Real Nick Drake

The Real Nick DrakeSong Writing

The head of Drake's estate shares his insights on the late folk singer's life and music.

Keith Reid of Procol Harum

Keith Reid of Procol HarumSongwriter Interviews

As Procol Harum's lyricist, Keith wrote the words to "A Whiter Shade Of Pale." We delve into that song and find out how you can form a band when you don't sing or play an instrument.

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce PavittSong Writing

The man who ran Nirvana's first label gets beyond the sensationalism (drugs, Courtney) to discuss their musical and cultural triumphs in the years before Nevermind.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Jon Anderson of Yes

Jon Anderson of YesSongwriter Interviews

From the lake in "Roundabout" to Sister Bluebird in "Starship Trooper," Jon Anderson talks about how nature and spirituality play into his lyrics for Yes.

Boz Scaggs

Boz ScaggsSongwriter Interviews

The "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle" singer makes a habit of playing with the best in the business.