We Can Always Come Back To This

Album: This Is Us soundtrack (2017)
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Songfacts®:

  • This soul ballad was written for the 2017 "Memphis" episode of the TV series This Is Us, where it's performed twice. It first appears in a flashback scene where we see the character William Hill in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, where he's a struggling musician. He presents the song to his cousin Ricky (played by Brian Tyree Henry) in the bar where they're getting ready to perform. Ricky gets very excited for the song and pulls the band on stage to perform it; by the end of the song, the audience is enthralled and the band has an original hit song to hang their hat on.

    Later in the episode, in present day, William Hill (Ron Cephas Jones), stricken with cancer, is comforted by his son in a scene where an acoustic version of the song performed by the Nashville singer Hannah Miller plays.

    The "Memphis" episode, which is number 16 in the show's first season, is particularly emotional. The series went on to win a number of awards; Brian Tyree Henry earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in the episode.
  • "We Can Always Come Back To This" was written by This Is Us composer Siddhartha Khosla and the singer-songwriter Chris Pierce. They met 10 years earlier at the South by Southwest festival, where Khosla was performing with his band Gold Spot. Khosla had a tough assignment: write a soul song that sounds like it could have been a hit around 1970, and reflects the feelings of a character dealing with the loss of a loved one. Khosla thought of Pierce, and rang him up for assistance. They got together and wrote the song, with Pierce drawing on personal experience. On the Songfacts Podcast, he explained: "It immediately resonated with me as I had lost my dad a few years before and he was really into soul. When I saw the picture of the scene, it immediately reminded me of my dad, and I really drew from my own experience of loss while writing it. Within an hour we submitted it to the executive producers and they loved it."
  • The version sung on the show by Brian Tyree Henry was released as a single and included on the This Is Us soundtrack album. The song's co-writer, Chris Pierce, often performs it live, including a performance at Apogee Studios in Santa Monica that has earned over 100,000 views on YouTube.
  • Brian Tyree Henry is known for his role as the rapper Paper Boi on the TV series Atlanta. On that show, there's also a story arc where he comes up with a hit song: "Paper Boi." But unlike "We Can Always Come Back To This," those aren't Henry's vocals on "Paper Boi." Stephen Glover, the brother of Atlanta's creator, Donald Glover, is the voice. "Paper Boi" also wasn't released, existing only on the show.

    So to recap: In 2016 Brian Tyree Henry's Atlanta character Paper Boi had a hit song on the show that he didn't perform on in real life, but a year later his This Is Us character Ricky had a fictional hit that he sang on in real life and was released.

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