Have you finished crying over Tuesday's episode of This Is Us yet? Good.
"Memphis" not only celebrated the character of William Hill (Ron Cephas Jones) with stellar writing and superb acting, but by honoring William's musical roots. The episode took us back to William's hometown of Memphis, Tenn. and showed us how the young poet started out as a soul songwriter on the brink of the big time before his mother fell ill with cancer.
The soundtrack of William's youth and subsequent death was a powerful ballad titled, "We Can Always Come Back to This," penned by the show's composer Siddhartha Khosla and Chris Pierce (who played guitar in William's band in the episode). While a song was written into the original script as a momentous force in the episode, it was Khosla and Pierce who had to craft the heartbeat of the arc of the story.
"The script said blues, but there's this whole Stax/soul sound from Memphis that is so influential and so under appreciated," executive producer and "Memphis" director John Fuqua explained to a select group of journalists at an episode screening event. "We thought, 'Let's go more in that soul direction.' [Sidd] played the song for us and blew me, Glenn and Dan away."
The song is first performed by William's band and then replays with a female singer as Randall (Sterling K. Brown) calms William down from a panic attack, and then drives home after his father's death. "We Can Always Come Back to This" was inspired not only by the script for the episode, but the message of This Is Us as a whole.
"If I think about the show, the lesson I get from the show and the entire series is that life doesn't really end ever," Khosla added. "The idea is there in the refrain, 'We can always come back to this.'"
Once the song was crafted, it became imperative to cast the right people to perform it.
"It had to be authentic. It had to feel like a real soul song," Fuqua's co-executive producer and director Glenn Ficarra said. "It also had to be a good song to really feel like they were going some place as a band. Sid knocked it out of the park. It was a beautiful song... Brian Tyree Henry, who came in to play Ricky, actually sang it. He sang it live there on the set."
If you fell under the spell of "We Can Always Come Back to This," don't fret — the song is now available on iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play and streaming on Spotify. Download it or play it here.
This Is Us returns March 7 for its penultimate Season 1 episode at 9/8c on NBC.