The Song From ‘Hamilton’ That Was Inspired By a Lot of Beatles Songs
Hamilton is the greatest phenomenon Broadway has seen in years. Its combination of rap, R&B, humor, drama, and history got many people interested in the founding of the United States. In order to craft the musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda took influence from a variety of artists, including the Beatles.
The Beatles has a profound impact on subsequent pop and rock music. However, some fans might not know one of the most memorable songs from Hamilton is a Beatles pastiche. Miranda was able to pack an astounding number of Fab Four references into a single track.
The Beatles-inspired breakup song in ‘Hamilton’
Hamilton primarily deals with the Founding Fathers of the United States. In the musical, the Founding Fathers perform songs in American genres like R&B and hip-hop. However, King George III gets his own song, which — cleverly — sounds a lot like the music of British invasion bands and their imitators.
In Hamilton, the oft-maligned monarch performs a comedic song titled “You’ll Be Back.” Fans have compared the song to the work of the Electric Light Orchestra and the Monkees’ hit “Daydream Believer.” However, it was actually inspired by a bevy of Beatles tunes.
In an interview with Vogue, Jonathan Groff, the actor who played King George III, discussed the song. “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. ”
All of the Fab Four references in ‘You’ll Be Back’
In an interview with Vulture, Alex Lacamoire, the musical director for Hamilton, gave a more in-depth breakdown of the Fab Four references in “You’ll Be Back.” “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 song boasts even more Fab Four references. “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.’”
In addition, Miranda admitted the guitar riff in the song’s outro was inspired by “Getting Better.” Beatles pastiches were common back in the 1960s and 1970s. However, “You’ll Be Back” might be the most popular Beatles pastiche in a long time.
Miranda’s choice to make “You’ll Be Back” sound like a Beatles song is quite clever. King George III is one of Britain’s most famous monarchs and the Beatles are one of Britain’s most famous bands. By making King George III’s song sound like a Beatles tune, Miranda communicates the concept of the king’s Britishness to an American audience. On top of that, the song has an unforgettable melody.