Disclosure: This post is sponsored by #ThisIsUsMusic.
I just lost my father. It’s not something I’ve talked about often publicly as the circumstances around his death were quite unusual. His death has impacted me in ways that I can’t describe. I find myself reflecting on could have been and should have been in his final years quite often. After my parents separated 15 years ago, our relationship became a bit estranged, and then he got sick. In very recent years, he didn’t know who I was and our visits got harder and harder. But if I had that extra moment, or any more time with him now, I know what I’d say.
This Is Us (Music from the Series)
While listening to This Is Us (Music from the Series) album from Season 1, which is being released this Friday, I had a moment of reflection about my father, and it came in the form of a song. It’s called “We Can Always Come Back To This,” the original song composed by Khosla and Chris Pierce, performed by Brian Tyree Henry. It was played during the season’s memorable“Memphis” episode about a trip between Randall and his birth father, William. William had Stage 4 cancer, while his son just had a nervous breakdown. Together they returned to Memphis to make good with a band leader William had walked out on several decades prior, when he was going through a bad bout with drugs. They had a wonderful time – Randall met various members of his family, and he learned more about his birth mother and his father’s childhood.
The scene in which this song is presented is very personal, both in the show and to me. William hadn’t had an easy life and we are witness to a “what could have been” moment. After leaving the band that could have changed his life both financially and professionally as a young man, and eventually giving up his son out of necessity, they spent a life not knowing each other. The two men’s desire to get to know each other as adults had been so strong, hence the pride that was captured when William is on stage with the group singing “We Can Always Come Back To This” is memorable. They both know the song is one of William’s last moments on earth, and neither wants to let go. Even though the two men have known each other a short time in life, their bond will never be broken. It’s the song that really triggers the emotion – both for the characters and for the audience watching This is Us.
I haven’t watched this episode since my own father died, but I remember the scene vividly. As hopeful as they are, Randall knew the trip was one of his last. When his father gets sick the morning after playing “We Can Always Come Back to This,” he learns he has hours to live. William, who had said his goodbyes to his grandchildren before they set out on their adventure, wanted their last image of him to be one of strength rather than pity, he told Randall. (“I wanted them to see me looking down at them, not up,” he said.) He wanted to die on his own terms, and the song enforces his desire.
My dad did, too, and I wish I had another chance to tell him how I feel…how I felt. He, like Randall, had a hard life and was not very well understood by many who did not fully understand mental illness, including close relations of mine. He did the best he could raising my sisters and I, but life was complicated, as it was for William. But my dad ended up dying alone. I have so many thoughts about coming back to this….
I was glued to the TV for season one of This is Us, and I expect the same when the new season starts. What moves me is not only the storytelling – the relatable characters and situations – but also the music. Some of my favorite songs from the season were Peter Gabriel’s “Come Talk To Me” by Khosla’s critically acclaimed band Goldspot, “Willin” by Mandy Moore, and so many favorites from my childhood, which remind me of my dad, actually. From “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” by Stevie Wonder to “The Wind” by Cat Stevens, a lot of the show offers me a dose of nostalgia for my life long gone. I can’t wait to put it in on in my car and relive some of the best scenes.
The soundtrack also features an original song and score, with 20 songs curated by “This Is Us” Creator/Executive Producer Dan Fogelman and his team, music supervisor Jennifer Pyken and composer/musician Siddhartha Khosla. Each musical element is carefully woven throughout, with the songs clearly defining a moment or serving as a guide through the complex emotional journey. Whether there be a birth scene, a death scene, or a breakup or reunion scene, the creators have carefully picked out music to accompany the emotions.
Here is the list of songs from the This Is Us (Music from the Series):
- Death With Dignity – Sufjan Stevens
- You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon
- Willin’ – Mandy Moore – Song on YouTube here
- Can’t Find My Way Home – Blind Faith
- Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Stevie Wonder
- The Calvary Cross – Richard Thompson & Linda Thompson
- Watch Me – Labi Siffre
- The Wind – Cat Stevens
- Come Talk To Me – Goldspot
- Blues Run The Game – Jackson C. Frank
- If Only – Maria Taylor (featuring Conor Oberst)
- Northern Sky – Nick Drake
- If I Ever Was A Child – Wilco
- Because Of You – Gene Clark
- Evergreen Cassette (Tape Mix) – Goldspot
- Without You – Badfinger
- The World’s Smiling Now – Jim James
- Photograph – Ringo Starr
- We Can Always Come Back To This – Brian Tyree Henry
- This Is Us Score Suite – Siddhartha Khosla
This Is Us (Music from the Series), Featuring Top Songs from NBC Hit Show’s First Season, Available September 15 from UMe. Preorder here: https://UMe.lnk.to/ThisIsUs.