The Decemberists Record Unused NSFW ‘Hamilton’ Song About Ben Franklin
Even though he was one of the most important of America's Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin was conspicuously absent from Hamilton: An American Musical, the smash Broadway show about the life of another Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. But it wasn't for a lack of trying. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show's creator, actually penned unused lyrics for a song about Franklin. He's now given them to the Decemberists to set to music. Miranda released the track this morning.
You can listen to "Ben Franklin's Song" above or stream and purchase here. Although maybe you shouldn't if you're in the presence of children, co-workers or clergy. Miranda envisions Franklin as a vulgar braggart, boasting of his numerous inventions and sexual prowess: "Do you know who the f--- I am?" he says to anybody who would listen. "I am Poor Richard's Almanack-writing Benjamin F---ing Franklin."
In a series of tweets, Miranda explained that the collaboration was kismet. "[Remember] how I said I once wrote some Decemberists-esque lyrics for a Ben Franklin tune, but never set ‘em to music? So, I sent the lyrics to Colin Meloy. He's in the Decemberists. And he set it to music as only he and his crew can. It absolutely blew me away. I went back to write new lyrics for a bridge for him. He took it to the Decemberists & they brought Ben Franklin to life."
A lyric about Franklin being 76 years old (and still capable of kicking your ass) suggests that Miranda had intended for the number to take place in 1782. That would put it late in the first act, after "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" but before "Non-Stop" (perhaps adding a bit of levity after "Dear Theodosia"?). As with the rap about John Adams, it's possible that it was not included because it was devoting too much time to a character who didn't have a major role.
The Franklin Institute, a Philadelphia-based museum founded in Franklin's honor and connected with his national memorial, had no issue with Miranda's profane depiction. They tweeted out their endorsement, and linked to an original piece where they broke down the song's lyrics.
"Ben Franklin's Song" is the first installment of what Miranda is calling "Hamildrops," a monthly delivery of "Hamilton content" that will run for the next year. It comes instead of a sequel to The Hamilton Mixtape, which saw contemporary acts putting their own spin on songs from the musical.