Warning: The following contains spoilers for Tuesday’s This Is Us.
If you’ve managed to stop ugly-crying after this week’s This Is Us by now, you might be left with the same question we had: Who wrote that amazing song William’s band played?
We first heard the original song, “We Can Always Come Back to This,” in a flashback to a younger William’s days in Memphis, playing keyboards in his cousin Ricky’s cover band. William took a stab at writing an original song for the band, and Ricky loved it — and so did the Memphis locals. A soulful heart-stirrer in the vein of Otis Redding (and sung beautifully by guest star Brian Tyree Henry, we might add), the song’s lyrics describe an undying love that crosses all boundaries: “If I’m gonna be alone/Let it be with you.”
The show’s composer Siddhartha Kholsa co-wrote the song, and he didn’t get a lot of direction from the script. “[Creator] Dan Fogelman had just written into the script that there would be an original song,” Kholsa tells TVLine. “But when you have material that good, it just inspires you.”
The producers wanted to take advantage of the tradition of great soul music that Memphis has. The song was originally described in the script as a blues song, executive producer John Requa reveals, but “there’s this whole Stax soul sound from Memphis which is so influential and underappreciated. So we thought, ‘Let’s go in that soul direction.’ And when Sid played the song for us, he blew [us] away, right out of the box.”
“It had to be authentic,” EP Glenn Ficarra adds. “It had to feel like a real soul song. And it also had to be a good song, so you believe that they’re actually going someplace as a band. And Sid just knocked it out of the park. Beautiful song. Chris [Pierce], who played guitar in the band, co-wrote the song. And Brian Tyree Henry, who came in to play Ricky, actually sang it live.”
We hear the song again at the end of the episode, in a cover version as we watch a montage of William’s life after his passing. And lyrically, Kholsa notes that the song ties into Randall’s eternal connection with William, as well as the series as a whole. “The lesson I get from the show is that life doesn’t really end, ever,” he says. “So the refrain at the end, ‘We can always come back to this,’ was a play on that, just saying that you may not be here now, but I’ll find you somewhere down the road.”
Press PLAY on the clip above to listen to William’s song, then hit the comments and share your take on Tuesday’s This Is Us.