Singer-songwriter Joel William Harrison fell in love with a fictional TV family from Pittsburgh, wrote a song about them and recorded it with a mate in the UK he’s never met.
The TV show was ‘This Is Us’. Harrison started watching it years ago and from the very first episode, he knew he was hooked.
“There are just so many TV shows to choose from these days but as soon as the closing credits started on that first episode, I knew I’d watch it until there was no more to watch,” he said.
“It was the characters. The emotional rollercoaster. But also the writing – it’s so clever. You think you know where the plot’s headed but then it gets turned on its head, almost like a magic trick.”
The track, which is a detour from Harrison’s normal introspective approach, intricately describes scenes, quotes and feels from the award-winning drama series. The production on the single also offers a tip of the cap to the show’s score, wrapped in acoustic guitar, ambient percussion, vocals and strings.
Writing a song about something so specific could be a nail in the coffin for any song but, according to Harrison, it doesn’t have to be.
“I think the song will really appeal to fans of the show, they’ll know exactly which characters and moments I’m talking about and it will hit them hard,” Harrison said.
“Even now, hearing some of the lines back can still get me.
“But people who have never watched the show will still be able to relate because, at its core, the song is all about family and that resonates no matter who you are.
“The triumphs, the losses and, of course, the struggles and regrets – that’s what makes a person who they are and provides the foundation for their story.”
Recorded in collaboration with UK producer Stef Judd, the pair swapped recordings and crafted the arrangement over Zoom until the track was complete.
“We’d worked together on an album before ‘This Is Us’ but before bringing Stef in on this project, I had to make sure he knew of and was a fan of the show,” Harrison said.
“Luckily, he was – he and his wife are both hooked. And so, we got to work.
“It probably seems strange to write a song about a TV-show family and record it with a friend who lives 15,000km away but somehow, it worked.”