Hearkening back to those golden days of 2015, when politics was less terrifying, the Nazis were gone forever, and all the good celebrities were still alive, Lin-Manuel Miranda released another of his Hamilton remixes yesterday, reprising one of the musical’s most hopeful moments with “One Last Time (44 Remix)”.
We’ve got Christopher Jackson, who originated the role of George Washington in the Broadway megahit, laying down a smooth R&B take on “One Last Time,” which lifts liberally from the first president’s farewell address to the nation. Said speech—delivered in 1796— set enduring precedent by illustrating how Washington was walking away from celebrity, fame, and power in favor of civic humility. And it is not, in fact, any less powerful coming from the voice of America’s 44th president, Barack Obama, a huge Hamilton fan who has lent his talents to the remix, reading the relevant excerpts of the speech with what we have to assume was a certain amount of rueful weariness at his own departure from the halls of power.
The end result is a very weird mix of lingering hope and crushing despair; Washington’s message, after all, centers on the idea that men fade from history, but ideals and shared beliefs persist. That might be cold comfort in the dim political valley of 2018, but it’s a strong reminder that this, too, shall pass. Also, it’s pretty catchy (even if we’re kind of miffed that private citizen Barack couldn’t be talked into singing a few bars).