In the periphery of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway musical Hamilton is the political saga of Founding Father George Washington. The character steals the spotlight a few times in the new Disney Plus recording of an original cast performance — how could he not, with a titan like Christopher Jackson bellowing “one last time ...” — but in the end, it’s Hamilton and Burr’s story.
Thankfully, the first president of the United States already got his speak-singing due years before Hamilton hit the stage, in a video that really prepared the world for musical American history: “Washington.”
Created by Brad Neely, now best known for his Adult Swim series China, IL and Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio, the video paints a mythological portrait of Mr. Washington with a percussive beat, a poet’s touch, and strong Newgrounds vibes. Miranda has never admitted that the web video was inspiration for his musical, but really, it’s hard to imagine anyone coming up with “How does a ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower / Somehow defeat a global superpower?” without having heard George Washington described as having “made love like an eagle falling out of the sky / Killed his sensei in a duel and he never said why.”
Just as Hamilton idealizes the influential voices of the 18th century, “Washington” embellishes history to make a point about true American heroism. Neely writes that Washington “ate opponents’ brains and invented cocaine,” though Washington was more of a drinker, gulping down four glasses of red wine every afternoon with dinner. Later in the song, the lyrics suggest “that motherfucker had like 30 goddamn dicks.” George Washington is commonly assumed to have had one dick.
While praise rains down on Hamilton once again, we can’t help but note the important place in internet cultural history that “Washington” holds. Celebrate by watching it again or for the first time. It’s always magical.