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Music

How The Beatles inspired the iconic musical 'Hamilton'

Hamilton is one of the most iconic shows that Broadway and many theatres around the world have ever seen. The way in which it fuses comedy and drama, with rap and R&B, was hailed as groundbreaking when it first premiered in 2013. It appeals to some of the most exciting parts of contemporary pop culture whilst also managing to get thousands interested in the early days of the United States. Hamilton, it goes without saying, remains one of the most important history lessons of the modern era.

The brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton cherrypicks from a range of influences, including Liverpool’s favourite sons, The Beatles. It transpires that one of the most iconic songs from the show takes its cues from the ‘Fab Four’, with Miranda able to pack in a number of subtle Beatles references into it. 

Given that The Beatles are the most significant British band of all time, the song is sung by the maligned character King George III, and it is ‘You’ll Be Back’. Evoking the sounds of the ‘British Invasion’ and their American counterparts, people have long thought that the track was a nod to The Monkees’ ‘Daydream Believer’. However, it was actually informed by a medley of Beatles songs. 

During a 2015 interview with VogueJonathan Groff, the man who once played George III, discussed the origins of ‘You’ll Be Back’. He said: “It’s a throwback to a sixties Beatles tune. And it’s a breakup song between America and England, which is fabulous. He’s like, ‘You’re leaving me? Oh, really? Well, good luck with that'”.

In another interview with Vulture a year later, the musical director of Hamilton, Alex Lacamoire, elucidated on Groff’s comments. He explained: “There’s a ‘Penny Lane’ reference in the vibe. In the first chorus, the vibes go, [hums ‘Penny Lane’ chords]. There’s a ‘[Being for the Benefit of] Mr. Kite!’ reference: At ‘You say your love is draining and you can’t go on’, the synth goes, ‘bah dunna-nah’, ‘dunna-nah’, ‘dunna-nah’. The bass line is a total Paul [McCartney]-ism”.

The references don’t stop there, either, as Lacamoire continued: “At ‘My sweet submissive subject,’ the bass does ‘da-dunnoo-dunnoo, the high triplet fill, and the bass is muted so it sounds like a Hofner. The drums — ‘a-ts-ts-ts-ts, ta-ts-ts’ — are a fill I know I stole from Ringo [Starr]. And the way [Jonathan] Groff intones, ‘Everybody!’ at the end is a little like [John] Lennon in ‘All You Need Is Love.'” 

Elsewhere, Miranda has also revealed that the guitar riff in the song’s outro was directly inspired by ‘Getting Better’, from Sgt. Pepper’s.

There’s no wonder why ‘You’ll Be Back’ is one of the most memorable songs from Hamilton, it took its cues from the best. A brilliant take on one of the most significant monarchs in British history aided by the style of Britain’s most iconic band, ‘You’ll Be Back’ is a genius stroke on the part of Miranda and all those involved. 

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