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Interview: Lin-Manuel Miranda talks to EW

[ Written on October 06 2017 by Francesca ]

The island of Puerto Rico is in critical condition following the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Hamilton writer Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his plea for awareness with “Almost Like Praying,” a song (listen below) whose proceeds will aid disaster relief for his second home.

I was on vacation when the hurricane hit. And like every Puerto Rican who does not live in Puerto Rico, we had a terrible few days where we were just waiting for news. The power grid was completely destroyed.

Every cell tower was out of service. So there was a period of quiet for every family member of every citizen on that island, and I was restless and in need of something to do. In the calm after the storm, most of my Facebook and Twitter feed was “My grandmother lives in Lares” or “My uncle is in San Juan. Has anyone heard from there?” It was a giant game of internet telephone, and my brain started working in terms of lyrics, because that’s what my brain does, and so I started thinking, “What if we write a relief song, but the lyrics to the song are simply every town in Puerto Rico?” I started thinking about Hurricane Maria — a name that will now forever have a destructive connotation, but prior to two weeks ago, was my favorite song from West Side Story.

So my brain started playing with the lyrics “Say it loud and there’s music playing/Say it soft and it’s almost like praying,” and I immediately emailed the Leonard Bernstein estate and Stephen Sondheim to ask for permission to sample it. To their incredible credit, they said yes within the day, and I started writing this tune where the hook is “Almost Like Praying” and the lyrics are the name of every town — 78 towns — in Puerto Rico. And then I pulled up my Rolodex. [Read More]

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