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Maaaaan, this song is non-stop! The repeated figure on the piano propels it forward, with the “Awwww!”s and “Non-stop!”s of the ensemble periodically giving it another push. Even though it’s episodic, with many changes of pace, and imparts an astounding amount of information about a very packed several years, it doesn’t lose its momentum.

I have been trying to blog about these songs every day, but the ones I love best tend to hold me up for a few days. I feel a kind of pressure to get them right. What if I post about “My Shot” or “Non-Stop” and I don’t say everything I want to say? Um, can you tell I relate to Hamilton’s character just a bit?

People with this kind of drive are a pain in the tuchis, a fact from which Miranda, who explicitly describes himself the same way, does not shy away. Eliza is exasperated with him, and Phillipa Soo lets us know with the tone of her first “Alexander” that this is not the first time they’ve been over this. Burr has said “no” to writing what will become the Federalist Papers, Burr says no, or argues, six different ways before Hamilton says “You’re making a mistake,” and Leslie Odom, too, says with his laughing, incredulous, “Good night,” I love the guy but he does not know when to stop. Hamilton can’t even summon patience for the man he admires most, Washington. When Washington invites him to join the first cabinet of the country, he nudges him to get to the end of the sentence, as if to say, yes, thank you, George, please pop the question already, I’ve got things to do.

Ah, he’s an arrogant PITA, isn’t he?:

I practiced the law, I practic’ly perfected it
I’ve seen injustice in the world and I’ve corrected it
Now for a strong central democracy
If not, then I’ll be Socrates
Throwing verbal rocks at these mediocrities

Hear the three rhymes in quick succession there? Socrates / rocks at these / -ocrities? That’s an unstoppably creative mind at work. Maybe the pleasure of observing it is why we, and Burr, and others, put up with him.

The question of what these two men like about each other is explored more thoroughly in this song than anywhere else, and Miranda’s explanation convinces. You can see the liking there, even while they’re driving each other mad. When they express frustration to each other, it’s not just with a “why,” but with a “how.” “How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?” Burr asks–he can’t wrap his mind around Hamilton’s energy. “I don’t understand how you stand to the side,” Hamilton declares–he isn’t just saying “Stop standing to the side,” he really doesn’t get it. Rather than dismiss each other, they keep trying to understand each other. When Hamilton approaches Burr about writing what will become the Federalist Papers, he is sincerely admiring; it’s not flattery when he details the ways Burr is the better lawyer. And Burr is admiring, as well as gobsmacked, when Hamilton writes 51 of the 85 essays over the course of six months. (Can we stop and think about that for a moment? That’s an average of two essays per week for six months straight. I write for a living and after four or five weeks of an essay [sermon] per week, I’m dying for a break. The man is non-stop.)

Also, we know how I like funny, and this song is laugh-out-loud funny. After speechifying dramatically about “the first murder trial of our brand-new nation,” Hamilton says:

I intend to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt
With my assistant counsel—

Burr: Co-counsel
Hamilton, sit down
Our client Levi Weeks is innocent. Call your first witness
That’s all you had to say!

Hamilton: Okay!
One more thing—

Hamilton’s tone of thrilled disbelief when he says, “I was chosen for the Constitutional Convention!” adds a little humility as well as humor; he still can’t quite believe how far and fast he’s risen, and it makes him less proud than delighted and surprised. And I love the other delegates’ reactions:

[ENSEMBLE MAN]
Bright young man…

[ANOTHER ENSEMBLE MAN]
Yo, who the f is this?

There’s also humor in Angelica’s “Don’t forget to write”–as if there is any question but that Hamilton will write to her, voluminously. It’s what he does.

If you look at the diagram of all of the cross-references, it shows that “Non-Stop” incorporates eleven, eleven, songs from earlier in the first act. It really goes wild in the “all skate,” as arranger / conductor / keyboardist Alec Lacamoire calls the zenith where five parts are sung at once, but the song starts pulling in references before that, around two minutes into the 6:25 song. I’ve marked them with <– in bold type. Thanks to Genius.com for the lyrics transcription.

[HAMILTON]
Hey
What are you waiting for?  <–“Aaron Burr, Sir”

What do you stall for?

[BURR]
What?

[HAMILTON]
We won the war
What was it all for?
Do you support this constitution?

[BURR]
Of course

[HAMILTON]
Then defend it

[BURR]
And what if you’re backing the wrong horse?

[HAMILTON]
Burr, we studied and we fought and we killed
For the notion of a nation we now get to build
For once in your life, take a stand with pride
I don’t understand how you stand to the side

[BURR]
I’ll keep all my plans
Close to my chest
I’ll wait here and see
Which way the wind
Will blow
I’m taking my time
Watching the
Afterbirth of a nation
Watching the tension grow

[ENSEMBLE]
Wait for it, wait for  <–“Wait for It”
It, wait…Which way the wind
Will blow
I’m taking my time
Watching the
Afterbirth of a nation
Watching the tension grow

[ANGELICA]
I am sailing off to London   <–“Satisfied”
I’m accompanied by someone who always pays
I have found a wealthy husband
Who will keep me in comfort for all my days
He is not a lot of fun, but there’s no one
Who can match you for turn of phrase
My Alexander

[HAMILTON]
Angelica

[ANGELICA]
Don’t forget to write

[ELIZA]
Look at where you are       <–“That Would Be Enough”
Look at where you started
The fact that you’re alive is a miracle
Just stay alive, that would be enough
And if your wife could share a fraction of your time
If I could grant you peace of mind
Would that be enough?

[BURR]
Alexander joins forces with James Madison and John Jay to write a series of essays defending the new United States Constitution, entitled The Federalist Papers. The plan was to write a total of twenty-five essays, the work divided evenly among the three men. In the end, they wrote eighty-five essays, in the span of six months. John Jay got sick after writing five. James Madison wrote twenty-nine. Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!

[BURR]
How do you write like you’re
Running out of time?
Write day and night like you’re
Running out of time?
[BURR AND MEN]
Ev’ry day you fight like you’re
Running out of time like you’re
Running out of time
Are you running out of time?

[ALL WOMEN]
Running out of time?Running out of time?Running out of time
Running out of time
Awwww!

[FULL COMPANY (EXCEPT HAMILTON)]
How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?
How do you write like you need it to survive?
How do you write ev’ry second you’re alive?
Ev’ry second you’re alive? Ev’ry second you’re alive?

[WASHINGTON]
They are asking me to lead  <–“History Has Its Eyes on You”
I am doing the best I can
To get the people that I need
I’m asking you to be my right hand man  <–“Right Hand Man”

[HAMILTON]
Treasury or State?

[WASHINGTON]
I know it’s a lot to ask

[HAMILTON]
Treasury or State?

[WASHINGTON]
To leave behind the world you know…

[HAMILTON]
Sir, do you want me to run the Treasury or State department?

[WASHINGTON]
Treasury

[HAMILTON]
Let’s go

[ELIZA]
Alexander…

[HAMILTON]
I have to leave

[ELIZA]
Alexander—

[HAMILTON]
Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now  <–“The Schuyler Sisters”

[ELIZA]
Helpless… <–“Helpless”

[HAMILTON]
They are asking me to lead

[ELIZA]
Look around, isn’t this enough?

[ANGELICA]
He will never be satisfied
He will never be satisfied
Satisfied
Satisfied…
He will never be satisfied
Satisfied…
Satisfied…Why do you fight like
[ELIZA]
What would be enough
To
Be satisfied
Satisfied
Satisfied…Look around
Look around!
Isn’t this enough?
What would be enough?
Why do you fight like
[WASH]
History has its eyes…On…You!
[WASH/MULL/LAUR/LAF]
History has its eyes…
On…
You…
[BURR]
Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room? Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room? Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?
Soon that attitude’s gonna be your doom!
Why do you fight like you’re running out of time?
Why do you fight like
[Ens]
Non-stop!
Non-stop!
Non-stop!
Non-stop!

[COMPANY]
History has its eyes on you

[HAMILTON]
I am not throwin’ away my shot!<–“My Shot”

I am not throwin’ away my shot!

I am
Alexander Hamilton!
I am not throwin’ away my shot!

[MEN]
Just you wait!  <–“Alexander Hamilton”
[FULL COMPANY]
Just you wait!Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, just you wait!

What a way to end the first act. Even just listening at home, I pump my fist and cheer.

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