The Decemberists have put to music an unused set of lyrics that Lin-Manuel Miranda originally wrote for Hamilton. As the band explains in a post on their website, Miranda reached out to Colin Meloy to ask them to record a version of “Ben Franklin’s Song,” which was cut from the show after Miranda couldn’t figure out how to use Ben Franklin as a character. “Funnily enough, he said he’d imagined Franklin singing in a sort of Decemberist-y way, whatever that means,” the band writes.
Miranda says that this is the start of what’s calling The Hamildrops series, where he’ll release a new piece of Hamilton content every month until December of next year. You can listen to the Decemberists’ version of “Ben Franklin’s Song” below.
Here’s the note that the band wrote to accompany the song:
We Decemberists are thrilled to toss a third night of Hanukkah/kind of early Xmas gift your way: BEN FRANKLIN’S SONG, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Colin Meloy.
What’s this all about, you ask? Well, let us explain.
HAMILTON, as you probably know, is an American musical theater production written by a guy named Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lots of people have seen it, lots of people are continuing to see it, lots of people have raved about it. We saw a production of it in New York last year and we can tell you: it’s very very good. And important. And transformative to our countrys current milieu. Etc.
Well, it happens that Mr. Miranda reached out to our own Colin Meloy to put music to a set of lyrics that had been written for HAMILTON but had never been used: a first-person introduction to one of the US’s founding fathers, Mr. Benjamin Franklin. Lin said that he’d wanted to include Franklin as a character in the show initially, but it just never quite worked something about not wanting to remove the audience more than once from the action taking place in our nascent United States. Funnily enough, he said he’d imagined Franklin singing in a sort of Decemberist-y way, whatever that means.
FAST FORWARD TO 2016: Lin passed on the lyrics to Colin, who was very much up to the task, and a new song was born: BEN FRANKLIN’S SONG, to be exact. We really like it. It’s very swear-y, but there’s a clean version too. You can listen to it tonight at midnight wherever it is that you live (so for some of you, that means it’s out now!).
We hope you like it. It was a lot of fun to write and record. If you’re a HAMILTON fan, we hope it will add a new dimension to the world of the show for you — but you can also just enjoy it as a history lesson. Franklin invented bifocals, you know. And the glass harmonica. WHAT A F***ING GUY.