Remembering Adam Schlesinger


Lucy Weiler

Fountains of Wayne was the first band I ever saw live. I was still a kid, not even ten yet, but they had already been playing in my head for years.

As a kid growing up in NYC, some of their songs felt prophetic. Lyrics from “No Better Place” and “Survival Car” felt like memories I was experiencing before I got to live them. I listened to a boy yearn for a girl and take an ill-fated trip on the N-train. I listened to teenage compatriots scurry off to Fire Island and trash the place. I listened to the melancholic and lonely motions of discovering yourself amid the backdrop of the busiest city in the world, enraptured by the sounds that proved someone else felt just as lost.

My favorite Fountains of Wayne song has changed with every stage of my life. First, it was “Hey Julie,” then “Mexican Wine” (he sings about weed—can you imagine?), “Hackensack,” “Sink to the Bottom.” Since my time at AU came to an unceremonious end, “It Must Be Summer” and “All Kinds of Time” have been looped into my Spotify near-daily, playing with that delicious, cathartic ache that accompanies lightly flexing a bruise.

I used to scoff at the people who knew Fountains of Wayne only for “Stacy’s Mom.” It felt kind of like if someone were to eat just the whipped cream off of a hot chocolate- skimming the shiny, sweet stuff off the top, never glancing at the foundation below. But I get it now. I get that Adam Schlesinger was just that good. In his Emmy, Grammy, should’ve-been-Tony-and-Oscar-winning career (give “That Thing You Do” a listen if you haven’t) he proved he could write songs that did it all. As much as his work can make you cry, moments later, you’re cranking your car radio and scream-singing to the triumph of catching a cab in the rain. What greater testament to songwriting capability is there?

From his work in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to Josie and the Pussycats to Fountains of Wayne (and much, much more), Adam Schlesinger, the songwriter, was ineffably clever. Adam Schlesinger, the man, from tributes which continue to pour in, seems incomparably generous, and kind. COVID-19 is scary, and loss is a difficult, dark thing to navigate in such uncertainty. But tonight, I will listen to the music Schlesinger left behind, songs that make me feel untethered but among such good company.

My sincere condolences to Adam Schlesinger’s private and creative families.