Almost Like Praying: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Maria

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The phrase “It is almost like praying” is from the song Maria, from the musical West Side Story. The phrase refers to the name itself, if I understand the somg correctly, which makes sense from a Catholic point of view because the name Maria and variants of it thoroughly indurate the prayer-text.

Maria is also the name of the Hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico in mid September. You are probably aware of the fact that relief and recovery efforts are still underway there, the slowness and ineffectiveness of that response being mainly a result of Donald Trump’s bad attitude towards all things Puerto Rican.

The self described “song and dance guy” Lin-Manuel Miranda was born into the New York Puerto Rican community, and spent considerable time visiting his granparents on the island, as he grew up. As a member of this community famous for spanning the vast really big ocean full of bigness, he at one time or another visted, or at least, happened upon, each one of the Island’s nearly eighty municipalities.

When Maria hit Pueto Rico, Miranda set out to help by creating a song that would be sold to raise money for relief and rebuilding.

For the title and refrain, he took the phrase from West Side Story, and used as the principle lyrics the names of all the cities and towns. He recruited a large crew of very willing performers including my amazing hometown talent Dessa, as well as Alex Lacamiore, Ana Villafañe, Anthony Ramos, Camila Cabello, Ednita Nazario, Fat Joe, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Gina Rodriquez, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Joell Ortiz, John Leguizamo, Juan Luis Guerra, Luis Fonsi, Marc Anthony, Pedro Capo, PJ Sin Suela, Rita Moreno, Rubén Blades, and Tommy Torres, plus producer Jeffrey Trooko Penalva, and the help of others, and created Almost Like Praying.

The reason I mention it now, weeks after it came out, is because Hrishikesh Hirway just put out an episode of the podcast Song Exploder, which consists mainly of Lin-Manuel Miranda giving the lowdown on all that went into the process of having an idea and creating a song ready to cut and distribute in something like eight days. It is a fascinating story, and you will enjoy listening to it.

Also, as noted above, Puerto Rico still needs your help, and all proceeds from the song go to that. So, spend the two bucks and get the song and contribute. And, do more of course, but do this now.

You can use the link above to get the song on Amazon, or go to iTunes. I’m pretty sure it is available everywhere.

Now, do go buy he song. But here it is in YouTube form for you to listen to while you buy the song, and also donate to the relief effort via Hispanic Federation:

Have you read the breakthrough novel of the year? When you are done with that, try:

In Search of Sungudogo by Greg Laden, now in Kindle or Paperback
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6 thoughts on “Almost Like Praying: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Maria

  1. Everyone attacked that company for getting a big no-bid contract and being in the same hometown as a cabinet official. Contract was cancelled, and now Puerto Rico can’t get anybody to do the work. Plus they still owe big cancellation fees.

  2. People attacked the company for its overcharging and insistence that no review of the work it did was allowed. Not to mention they didn’t have the people to do it.
    It was a scam from the get go.

    1. Getting subcontractors to fly into Puerto Rico is expensive. They probably had to pay up front as well, and there’s the risk of not collecting from a bankrupt state.

    2. The company had 2 employees — 2 when the government gave it the contract. Never had more than that prior to bidding: had never done a job like that.


  3. Thanks Greg for sharing this. What a truly beautiful song, beautiful people, beautiful passion, beautiful voices. Americans we can all be proud of. Americans we can all be proud of.

    And Rita Moreno! Wow. from wikipedia… “Moreno is one of twelve artists to have won all four major annual American entertainment awards: an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony.” Just Wow.

    The song “America” from West Side Story is worth listening too again… and again…

    “Immigrant goes to America,
    Many hellos in America;
    Nobody knows in America
    Puerto Rico’s in America! “

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