Right Hand Man – Decoding the Rallying Cry of a Revolution


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Lin-Manuel Miranda's Right Hand Man at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. A Symbol of Resistance and Rally Under Fire
  5. ‘Outgunned, Outmanned’: The Call for Reinforcements
  6. Unearthing the Elephant in the Revolutionary Room
  7. Cannonades of Verse: The Song’s Most Memorable Lines
  8. The Secret Message Embedded in Revolutionary Rhymes

Lyrics

British Admiral Howe’s got troops on the water
Thirty-two thousand troops in New York harbor

Thirty-two thousand troops in New York harbor

When they surround our troops
They surround our troops
When they surround our troops

As a kid in the Caribbean I wished for a war
I knew that I was poor
I knew it was the only way to

Rise up

If they tell my story
I am either gonna die on the battlefield in glory or

Rise up

We will fight for this land
But there’s only one man
Who can give us a command so we can

Rise up

Understand? It’s the only way to

Rise up
Rise up

Here he comes

Here comes the general

Ladies and gentlemen

Here comes the general

The moment you’ve been waiting for

Here comes the general

The pride of Mount Vernon

Here comes the general

George Washington

We are outgunned (what?)

Outmanned (what?)

Outnumbered
Outplanned (buck, buck, buck, buck, buck)

We gotta make an all out stand
Ayo, I’m gonna need a right-hand man (buck, buck, buck, buck, buck)

Check it
Can I be real a second?
For just a millisecond?
Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?
Now I’m the model of a modern major general
The venerated Virginian veteran whose men are all
Lining up, to put me up on a pedestal
Writin’ letters to relatives
Embellishin’ my elegance and eloquence
But the elephant is in the room
The truth is in ya face when ya hear the British cannons go

Boom

Any hope of success is fleeting
How can I keep leading when the people I’m
Leading keep retreating?
We put a stop to the bleeding as the British take Brooklyn
Knight takes rook, but look

We are outgunned (what?)

Outmanned (what?)

Outnumbered
Outplanned (buck, buck, buck, buck, buck)

We gotta make an all out stand
Ayo, I’m gonna need a right-hand man (buck, buck, buck, buck, buck)

Incoming
They’re battering down the Battery check the damages

Rah

We gotta stop ’em and rob ’em of their advantages

Rah

Let’s take a stand with the stamina God has granted us
Hamilton won’t abandon ship
Yo, let’s steal their cannons

Shh-boom

Goes the cannon, watch the blood and the shit spray and

Boom

Goes the cannon, we’re abandonin’ Kips Bay and
Boom

There’s another ship and

Boom

We just lost the southern tip and

Boom

We gotta run to Harlem quick, we can’t afford another slip
Guns and horses giddyup
I decide to divvy up
My forces, they’re skittish as the British cut the city up
This close to giving up, facing mad scrutiny
I scream in the face of this mass mutiny
Are these the men with which I am to defend America?
We ride at midnight, Manhattan in the distance
I cannot be everywhere at once, people
I’m in dire need of assistance

Your excellency, sir

Who are you?

Aaron Burr, Sir?
Permission to state my case?

As you were

Sir
I was a captain under General Montgomery
Until he caught a bullet in the neck in Quebec
And well, in summary
I think that I could be of some assistance
I admire how you keep firing on the British
From a distance

Huh

I have some questions, a couple of suggestions on how to fight instead of fleeing west

Yes?

Well

Your excellency, you wanted to see me?

Hamilton, come in, have you met Burr?

Yes, sir

We keep meeting

As I was saying, sir, I look forward to seeing your strategy play out

Burr?

Sir?

Close the door on your way out

Have I done something wrong, sir?

On the contrary
I called you here because our odds are beyond scary
Your reputation precedes you, but I have to laugh

Sir?

Hamilton, how come no one can get you on their staff?

Sir

Don’t get me wrong, you’re a young man, of great renown
I know you stole British cannons when we were still downtown
Nathaniel Green and Henry Knox wanted to hire you

To be their Secretary? I don’t think so

Why’re you upset?

I’m not

It’s alright, you want to fight, you’ve got a hunger
I was just like you when I was younger
Head full of fantasies of dyin’ like a martyr?

Yes

Dying is easy, young man
Living is harder

Why are you telling me this?

I’m being honest
I’m working with a third of what our Congress has promised
We are a powder keg about to explode
I need someone like you to lighten the load
So?

I am not throwin’ away my shot
I am not throwin’ away my shot
Ayo, I’m just like my country, I’m young
Scrappy and hungry

I am not throwing away my shot

Son

We are outgunned, outmanned

You need all the help you can get
I have some friends, Laurens, Mulligan
Marquis de Lafayette, okay, what else?

Outnumbered, outplanned

We’ll need some spies on the inside
Some King’s men who might let some things slide

I’ll write to Congress and tell ’em we need supplies
You rally the guys, master the element of surprise

I’ll rise above my station, organize your information
‘Til we rise to the occasion of our new nation, sir

Here comes the general

Rise up

Here comes the general

Rise up

Here comes the general

Rise up

Here comes the general

And his right hand man

Boom

Full Lyrics

In the heart of ‘Hamilton,’ Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ground-breaking musical masterpiece, lies ‘Right Hand Man,’ a pulsating call to arms that manages not only to encapsulate the spirit of a burgeoning revolution but also to articulate the personal narrative of history’s unsung heroes. This song is more than a historical recount; it’s an anthem loaded with the urgent energy and hopeful desperation that defined the American Revolution.

Through a deep dive into the layered verses of ‘Right Hand Man,’ we discover its potency and the sharp relevance that continues to resonate in modern political and personal battlegrounds. The song serves as a reminder of the underdog’s fight, the importance of strategic alliances, and the sheer determination that fuels the quest for change.

A Symbol of Resistance and Rally Under Fire

‘Right Hand Man’ begins with a stark depiction of the overwhelming might of the British forces, pitted against the under-equipped American soldiers. This opening salvo sets a scene of seemingly insurmountable odds, encapsulating the David-and-Goliath essence of the American Revolution. In bringing this palpable tension to the fore, Miranda crafts a universal metaphor for any struggle against larger forces, be it political, social, or personal.

With its relentless rhythm and escalating intensity, the song conveys the gravity of the situation and the critical need for a capable leader. George Washington’s arrival signals a turning point, presenting him not just as a military leader but as the embodiment of the unity and determination needed to overcome adversity.

‘Outgunned, Outmanned’: The Call for Reinforcements

The repeated declaration that the Americans are ‘outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, outplanned’ is a refrain that underlines the harsh reality of their position. Yet, it also serves as a rallying cry that stirs the fighting spirit within the revolutionaries. The cadence of these lines represents the heartbeat of the rebellion, quickening as the song progresses to match the urgency of their plight.

Miranda’s decision to highlight the need for a ‘right-hand man’ emphasizes the theme of interdependence and camaraderie. His portrayal of Alexander Hamilton’s ambition to be that man demonstrates the powerful drive that can arise when personal aspiration aligns with a larger cause.

Unearthing the Elephant in the Revolutionary Room

Beneath the surface of military strategy and historical references, ‘Right Hand Man’ conveys a subtle but potent message about acknowledgment and the dangers of ignoring that ‘elephant in the room.’ Washington’s inner monologue represents the fine line leaders walk, balancing the public’s expectations with the harsh truths of reality, not unlike contemporary leaders.

This layer of the song suggests that the path to glory is fraught with trials and brutal frankness, a nod to the need for transparent leadership even when the truth is uncomfortable. By humanizing these figures of history, Miranda bridges the gap between past and present, highlighting that the internal conflicts leaders face are timeless.

Cannonades of Verse: The Song’s Most Memorable Lines

Lines like ‘Boom goes the cannon, watch the blood and the shit spray’ are visceral, providing a stark contrast to the valor often associated with historic battles. Miranda excels at portraying both the bloodshed and chaos of war, refusing to sanitize the details for the sake of glorifying the past.

Other lines such as ‘Dying is easy, young man, living is harder,’ resonate with profound severity. This sentiment echoes across generations, encapsulating the enduring knowledge that the struggle for progress extends far beyond the battlefield, into the painstaking efforts to build and sustain a nation—or any great endeavor.

The Secret Message Embedded in Revolutionary Rhymes

Peeling back the layers, ‘Right Hand Man’ unveils the oft-overlooked narrative of support systems and their role in any grand achievement. The song stealthily insists on the necessity of surrounding oneself with capable allies, the ‘right-hand men’ who can bolster a visionary’s weaknesses and solidify their strengths.

Finally, it reveals a hidden meaning—a message of seizing opportunities (‘I am not throwin’ away my shot’), a reminder that ambition coupled with sacrifice is the bedrock of transformation. Through Hamilton’s character, Miranda imparts a wisdom about seizing one’s moment in history and playing an essential role in the shaping of one’s destiny.

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