The triumphant, expletive-laced folk-rock track chronicles Franklin’s numerous accomplishments as an inventor, writer and diplomat. “Do you know who the fuck I am?” bandleader Colin Meloy sings on the chorus, adding at the climax, “I am Poor-Richard’s-Almanack-writing, polymath, bifocal-wearing, hardened glass-harmonica-playing Benjamin Fuckin’ Franklin.”
Miranda originally wrote the song for his hit musical, but discarded it after he couldn’t figure out how to implement the scene. The writer-actor then reached out to Meloy in 2016, asking if the Decemberists could record their own version of the track. “Funnily enough, he said he’d imagined Franklin singing in a sort of Decemberist-y way, whatever that means,” the band wrote in a post on their website.
“We hope you like it,” they continued. “It was a lot of fun to write and record. If you’re a HAMILTON fan, we hope it will add a new dimension to the world of the show for you – but you can also just enjoy it as a history lesson. Franklin invented bifocals, you know. And the glass harmonica. WHAT A F***ING GUY.”
“Ben Franklin’s Song” launches the “Hamildrops” series, which will feature new Hamilton-related content every month through December 2018. Miranda – who previously wrote an essay for the band’s 10th anniversary box set of The Crane Wife – enthused about the track in a statement, detailing how the collaboration came together.
“‘Member how I said I once wrote some Decemberists-esque lyrics for a Ben Franklin tune, but never set ‘em to music?” he wrote. “So I sent the lyrics to @ColinMeloy. And HE set it to music as only he and his crew can. It absolutely blew me away. Went BACK to write lyrics for a bridge for him. He took it to @The Decemberists & they brought Ben Franklin to life.”