A : Character Development
The song You’ll be Back is after the song Farmer Refuted (check Annie’s blog for Farmers Refuted), and is in the form of a letter from King George. This song was based on the Proclamation of Rebellion, made in 1775 after the Battle of Bunker Hill. Unlike most songs in Hamilton, You’ll be Back is sung from a British perspective and is essentially a letter where King George establishes his dominance over the thirteen colonies in a twisted, lovesick way. In this song, King George starts off by singing about how the colonies don’t want to pay the price of his love. Essentially, the king is referring to the taxes that have been put upon the colonies. He mentions the Boston Tea Party and sings about how there had been an arrangement when the British left for the thirteen colonies. Informing the thirteen colonies that they are making him mad, King George continues to say that despite all the rebellions, the thirteen colonies will always come back to him. King George sings that ‘Oceans rise and empires fall, we have seen each other through it all’ in order to tell the thirteen colonies that they have been through many things together. Something funny is that King George really did go ‘mad’ as he was diagnosed with mental illness later in life.
Threatening the colonies in the letter, King George says that when push comes to shove, he will send a fully armed battalion to remind them of his love. Once you reach this line, the song takes on a creepy, possessive, yandere love song vibe, reminding you of an extremely controlling relationship, but remains bright and bouncy! Similar lines are repeated throughout the song, with the context of I love you, you don’t love me, but you will love me and if you don’t, I will use violent force to make you love me, albeit in a happy way. Throughout the song, it’s clear that King George wants the love and the praise of the thirteen colonies, and wants the thirteen colonies to stop rebelling. He thinks that losing the thirteen colonies is ludicrous, and believes that the thirteen colonies will always come back to him.
B : Connections to Historical Elements
The song You’ll Be Back is based on the Proclamation of Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition, which was an official proclamation made by King George in 1775.
This proclamation was made after the Battle of Bunker Hill and basically was a message from the king saying that anyone who helped the rebels would be labelled as traitors and that the British were allowed to use force to apprehend these traitors. Throughout the song, King George mentions the Boston Tea Act and other taxes like the Tea Act. King George sings that the thirteen colonies don’t want to pay the price for his love, which refers to the thirteen colonies unwillingness to pay taxes that Britain has set upon them, like the Stamp Act and the Tea Act. King George also sings that the thirteen colonies are making him mad. Historically, King George actually did go ‘mad’. Historians suspect that King George had porphyria, a disorder that results from the buildup of natural chemicals in the body or arsenic poisoning, as arsenic was a common ingredient in medicine and cosmetics at the time. King George went ‘mad’ twice, once in 1778 and once in 1804. The second time, he did not recover, and King George’s son took the throne. Unlike how Hamilton portrays King George, King George was not the main antagonist of the American Revolution. Even though King George had direct and indirect influence over the Parliament, it was mostly the ministers of Parliament that suggested the Intolerable Acts and other taxes.
The big idea I chose for this song was:
Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.
The thirteen colonies are rebelling because they don’t want ‘taxation without representation’, and they feel that they don’t have the same level of power and say as people in Britain. This is why the thirteen colonies begin to rebel, in order to gain equal say and power. This causes events like the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre to happen. Which then leads to this letter from the King (King George) himself. In the song, King George points out that there had been an arrangement made when the British left for the new land, as the British government was still a supreme power. Now, the arrangement is practically nonexistent, as the people in the thirteen colonies are rebelling, and the relationship between the people of the thirteen colonies and the British Empire/Parliament had deteriorated.
C : Thematic & Personal Connections
You’ll be Back caught my eye because of the different tone and perspective it carried compared to most of the other songs in Hamilton. You’ll be Back is a song from the British perspective, and the song carries a much lighter and bouncy tone than other songs like Non-Stop or Right Hand Man. As I was listening to You’ll be Back, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for King George. At the start of the song, with his opening line saying that the thirteen colonies didn’t want to pay the price for his love, made it sound like King George was in a relationship where the other party wasn’t exerting as much effort into the relationship as King George was. However, the famous line of “I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love” had me freeze. What an insane character, I thought. This is great! A happy, slightly deranged character that seems to be chasing after an unrequited crush? This person is my new favourite character. Slightly salty, possessive, seems like an ex-girlfriend… What’s not to like? These were the thoughts running through my head as King George marked his spot in the book of favourite characters. Another thing that won favour with me was the vocals. The vocals for the lines “You say our love is draining and you can’t go on” and “Oceans rise, Empires fall” were amazing.
Three lines that I thought were incredibly significant were these three lines.
“Remember we made an arrangement when you went away, now you’re making me mad”
King George is referring to the fact that when people went away to the new land, their loyalty and obedience to the rule of Britain was required and implied. Now that the people of the thirteen colonies are rebelling against the rule of Britain, King George is becoming angry because the people of the thirteen colonies are not upholding the arrangement they had made when they had left for America.
2. “And no, don’t change the subject, cuz you’re my favourite subject, my sweet submissive subject, my loyal, royal subject”
These lines here use the word subject excessively, and the use of the word subject is used with the meaning of subject as in a topic and subject as in someone below the monarch. You can also see that King George uses the adjectives loyal and submissive to describe the subject, which is the thirteen colonies. King George believes that this is just a small rebellion and that the thirteen colonies will continue to be loyal and submissive after this phase.
3. “Cuz when push comes to shove, I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love”
This line is the warning blatantly stated in this song/letter. From the perspective of King George, he is showing the thirteen colonies how far he will go in order to secure their loyalty and love. Almost like an obsessive boyfriend, King George is warning the thirteen colonies that if they continue to rebel, he will resort to drastic measures, such as killing the friends and family of the people of the thirteen colonies.
From this song, the thematic statement that I pulled away was:
In order to judge someone or something, it’s best to understand different perspectives first. Don’t judge if you’re disconnected. You may not know what’s going on.
The reason I decided on this theme is that the British did not look at things from the perspective of the thirteen colonies. The thirteen colonies wanted taxation with representation, and if the British had understood that and had tried to look at things from the perspective of the thirteen colonies, this revolution may not have been caused in the first place.
Overall, the song You’ll be Back is one I thoroughly enjoy, and I’ve learned a lot of the historical context behind it. I hope that I continuously draw knowledge from these wonderful songs with amazing vocals. If you haven’t listened to Hamilton yet, I highly suggest you do.
P.S The animatics are 12/10. Watch them!!