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Monday, November 21, 2016

What "I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot" REALLY Means In The Hamilton Musical

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post focuses on the meanings of the saying "I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot", a repeated lyric in the song "My Shot" from Lin-Manuel Miranda's award winning musical Hamilton.

The content of this post is presented for cultural and etymoogical purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda for his musical legacy and thanks to the entire cast of Hamilton.
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Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/11/two-verse-in-my-shot-hamilton-musical.html Two Verse In "My Shot" (Hamilton Musical) That Refer To Black Patriots In The American Revolution for another pancocojams post about the song "My Shot".

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OVERVIEW OF THE MUSICAL "HAMILTON" AND PARTIAL LYRICS FOR THE SONG "MY SHOT"
From http://genius.com/albums/Lin-manuel-miranda/Hamilton-original-broadway-cast-recording
Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) (2015); Lin-Manuel Miranda

Album
The cast recording to the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda blends musical theater, hip-hop, rap, R&B, jazz, pop, and American history to dramatize the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, based on the biography by Ron Chernow. Despite depicting historical figures, the show practices colorblind (more like purposefully colorful) casting. As countless promotional materials state, Hamilton aims to depict “America then, as told by America now.”

....

[HAMILTON/MULLIGAN/LAURENS/LAFAYETTE]
I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot
It’s time to take a shot!

....

[LAFAYETTE]
I dream of life without a monarchy...
When I fight, I make the other side panicky
With my—

[HAMILTON/LAURENS/LAFAYETTE/MULLIGAN]
Shot!

....

[HAMILTON/LAURENS/LAFAYETTE/MULLIGAN/ENSEMBLE]
I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot

I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot

...."
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Click that link for the complete lyrics as well as some comments by Lin-Manuel Miranda and some analysis from that site's bloggers.

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SHOWCASE VIDEO: Hamilton the Musical on Broadway



BroadwayBox.com, Published on Aug 7, 2015

Check out scenes and songs from Broadway's blockbuster new musical Hamilton. Katherine Brooks,
Senior Arts & Culture Editor, The Huffington Post.
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Click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK4Wk_8PbcI&list=RDVK4Wk_8PbcI for the complete sound file of "My Shot" from the 2015 Broadway musical.

Also, click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/04/lin-manuel-mirandas-broadway-musical.html for a previous pancocojams post about Hamilton. That post includes additional videos about that Broadway musical as well as excerpts from various online articles about that musical. The November 21, 2016 revised version of that original post includes two articles about Donald Trump's post election tweets about the audience of Hamilton booing his vice president Mike Pence.

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WHAT "I AM NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT" MEANS
From https://trudymorgancole.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/i-am-not-throwing-away-my-shot/ "I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot", June 26, 2016 by trudyj65
..."Hamilton, among so many other things, is a brilliantly crafted piece of literature, which is probably why Miranda won a Pulitzer Prize for writing it. The rapid-fire, often rapped lyrics are intricate and intelligent, and if (like me and most people) you’re introduced to the musical via the soundtrack album rather than via the stage performance, you have the luxury of listening over and over, replaying and re-hearing until you catch all the nuances. Musicals always play with musical motifs — a repeated thread of melody that accompanies a character throughout the story, used in different ways for different songs and scenes — but Hamilton adds an extraordinary level of literary motif, too.

Take, for example, the song “My Shot” (which is currently my alarm on my phone so I can wake up to its inspiring lyrics every morning). The real Alexander Hamilton is probably most famous for (possibly, depending on what you believe about the debated historical evidence) “throwing away his shot,” i.e. deliberately firing to miss in his fatal duel with Aaron Burr. In writing Hamilton’s songs, Miranda plays with this phrase in every possible way, spins its meaning in a dozen different directions as he builds a portrait of an ambitious young man determined not to “throw away his shot,” not to miss a chance either at personal success or service to his adopted country. Over and over, whenever given a chance to jump into the fray, Hamilton vows not to throw away his shot — at fame, at fortune, at leaving a legacy — and yet every repetition of that phrase points us forward to the inevitable conclusion, when he will throw away his shot, and leave that highly ambiguous legacy."
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To unpack this excerpt, that blogger writes that
1. “throwing away his shot,” [means to] deliberately firing to miss [in a duel with firearms]
2. not to “throw away his shot,” [means] not to miss a chance either at personal success or service to his adopted country
3. not to "throw away his shot" [not to miss a chance, opportunity] — at fame, at fortune, at leaving a legacy
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The lyrics "I am not throwing away my shot" in the song "My Shot" may mean each of these definitions at the same time. However, I believe that the emphasis in that song is on the meaning given as #3 above. Another way of saying this is "I'm not going to blow [waste; miss, be unprepared for, not take advantage of] a chance or chances [to succeed, to do something significant, to do what I needs to be done]".

Notice how that meaning for the saying "I am not throwing away my shot" was used by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Lorne Michaels, producer of Saturday Night Live during Miranda's monologue on that comedy program:
‘SNL': Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda Whip Out ‘My Shot’ Parody (Video) http://www.thewrap.com/snl-lin-manuel-miranda-whips-out-not-throwing-away-my-shot-parody/ for an article about Lin-Manuel Miranda's monologue on the American comedy series Saturday Night Live He said he wasn’t going to do any “Hamilton” songs, but he kinda did, Phil Owen | October 8, 2016 @ 9:55 PM
...."Miranda then described how it had long been a dream of his to host “Saturday Night Live,” and when the news broke that he would finally get the chance everybody he knew, of course, asked if he would do a “Hamilton” song.

“I’m like, no! It’s “Saturday Night Live”! I want to do all the “SNL” stuff. I want to do all the stuff an “SNL” host gets to do. It takes seven years to write a show so I don’t know when I’m going to be back here. So I am not throwing away my shot.”

“My Shot” is, of course, a track from “Hamilton,” and from there he burst into an “SNL”-tailored version of the song.

“My name is Lin-Manuel, I am hosting “SNL” and I am not throwing away my shot,” Miranda sang. Imma go for broke and do it all tonight, take a swing, pass the baton, give me the ball tonight. I got a Tony and an Emmy and a Grammy yo, what I want is a famous person cameo.”

...The performance took Miranda through the audience and backstage, where he encountered “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels, who interrupted the song to hit up Miranda for “Hamilton” tickets.....
Saturday Night Live ✔ @nbcsnl
You never throw away your shot to ask @Lin_Manuel Miranda for #Hamilton tickets. #SNLinManuel
12:34 AM - 9 Oct 2016

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SOME DEFINITIONS OF THE WORD "SHOT" [that I think are pertinent to this song]
From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/shot
1. The firing or discharge of a weapon, such as a gun.
6. Informal
a. An attempt; a try: took a shot at losing weight.
b. An opportunity: gave him a fair shot at the part in the play.
c. A chance at odds; something to bet on: The horse was a four-to-one shot.
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As I wrote earlier, I believe that the definitions given as #1 and #6 are pertinent to the meaning of the saying "I'm not throwing away my shot" in Lin-Manuel Miranda's song "My Shot". I also believe that two other ways of saying "Take a shot" in that song are "(Go ahead) Take a chance! and "Go for it".

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INFORMATION ABOUT THE TERM "THROWING AWAY YOUR SHOT" IN DUELING WITH FIREARMS
Here's more information about the "throwing away your shot" term in the context of dueling with firearms (definition #1 given above):
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deloping
"Delope (French for "throwing away") is the practice of throwing away one's first fire in a pistol duel, in an attempt to abort the conflict. According to most traditions, the deloper must first allow his opponent the opportunity to fire after the command ("present") is issued by the second, without hinting at his intentions. The Irish code duello forbids the practice of deloping explicitly.

The delope could be attempted for practical reasons, such as if one duelist thought their opponent was superior in skill, so as not to provoke a fatal return shot. Deloping could also be done for moral reasons if the duelist had objections to attempting to kill his opponent or if he were so skilled a marksman as to make the exchange unfair. Deloping in a duel, for whatever reason, could be a risky strategy whether or not the delope was obvious to all present. Deloping with a near miss, in order to save one's honor without killing, could backfire if the opponent believed the effort to be genuine and responded with a fatal shot. Also, regardless of whether the delope was near or wide, the opponent might infer that he was being insulted as "not worth shooting" (an unworthy opponent) and either take care to aim his own shot to kill or insist on a second exchange.

However, for the opponent to insist upon a second shot after a delope was considered bloodthirsty and unbecoming. Often, it would fall to the seconds to end the duel immediately after a delope had been observed.
The term delope is specific to the use of firearms in a duel which, historically speaking, were typically flintlock pistols. These pistols were notorious for their lack of accuracy at long distances and a particularly skilled marksman might attempt to delope unnoticed with a well-placed "near-miss." The distance between the two combatants had to be great enough that all others present would assume that any miss was due to this inherent inaccuracy and not intentional. This way the shooter could avoid killing his opponent and, if accused of deloping, claim he had made a genuine effort. Also, the opponent might recognize the "near-miss" as a delope but understand that it was meant for the benefit of any witnesses present and, if the opponent was not insulted, also delope. Both parties could then claim they had each tried to shoot the other and the duel would end without any fatalities.

Notable uses
Alexander Hamilton, a 19th-century American politician, is thought to have attempted to delope during his infamous duel on July 11, 1804 with Aaron Burr, then the sitting Vice President of the United States. Rather than firing into the ground (as was customary for deloping), Hamilton fired into the air over Burr's head; Burr, perhaps misunderstanding his opponent's intent, fired directly at Hamilton, mortally wounding him. However, Burr's animosity towards Hamilton was such that it is not out of the question that Burr understood what Hamilton was doing and intentionally shot to kill, or at least draw blood. Other historians have proposed that Burr shot first and the wounded Hamilton reflexively pulled the trigger, which would not be an instance of delope. Ron Chernow's 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton gives this version. According to his account, the shots were all but simultaneous with Burr's coming first according to most witnesses. Chernow does note that Hamilton made it very clear to others that he intended to throw away his first shot. What remains in dispute is whether Burr certainly knew that."...

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