It’s Quiet Uptown
So I want to talk about my favorite moment in Hamilton because I never have, and with the mixtape early singles, I’m now listening to the Kelly Clarkson version of this song and thinking about it again.
This is my favorite song for a lot of reasons, mainly because it has my favorite two lines in the entire show in it… “There’s a grace too powerful to name” and “Forgiveness, can you imagine?”
But here’s the deal. This entire show has been building to Alexander’s greatest foil- his ego and pride while he fights to advance and stay ahead… to the point that at his worst moment, he publishes a long essay detailing his affair to defend rumors that he mismanaged money… and is so fixated on protecting his name, that he literally doesn’t even stop to think about how this will effect Eliza, and his family. Angelica shows up and he actually thinks she’s there to defend him.
And then you have his son, who loves his dad, idealizes his dad, wants to be just like his dad, and he goes out into the world, and defends his dad against people who are insulting him, to the point that he ends up in a duel to defend his dad’s name/honor. And Alexander LOANS HIM THE GUNS for the duel. He’s not like “you know what son, I don’t really deserve to have you defend me like this, they’re right, I screwed over your mom and my actions are not defendable.” He’s like, yeah, okay son, let me show you how to duel, here, take my guns, have fun!
And then Philip dies. And I don’t think it’s until that moment Alexander truly realizes what his selfish pride has done to his family. And you hear it in the lyrics, they retreat from public life, he starts going back to church and praying, he’s actually for the first time repentant.
And then there’s this lovely song, where he finally apologizes to Eliza, admits that this is his fault, admits he doesn’t deserve her, states he’s willing to die if it could bring their son back.
And since Burn, Alexander and Eliza haven’t touched, there is a clear coldness between the two, when she’s sobbing over Philip she won’t let him touch her to comfort her.
And then on the line “They are standing in the garden, Alexander by Eliza’s side, she takes his hand.” And they’re center stage, and when Eliza takes hold of his hand, Alexander breaks down, he loses it, he is literally standing there sobbing on stage, head bowed, overcome with emotion, while my favorite line covers them “Forgiveness, can you imagine.”
And for the first time I think Alexander finally realizes how much he doesn’t deserve this forgiveness. His pride literally killed his son, his son died defending his honor when it didn’t deserve to be defended, and here is his gracious and loving wife, who still forgives him, even though he doesn’t deserve it, they both know he doesn’t deserve it.
That simple moment, Eliza reaching out and taking hold of his hand, Alexander sobbing when she does… that to me is the most beautiful, powerful, poignant moment of the entire show. It’s the moment that I’m going to remember 50 years from now as one of the most moving moments I’ve ever seen on stage.