As the world remembers Fountains of Wayne member and songwriter Adam Schlesinger, who died April 1 due to COVID-19, the band’s singer Chris Collingwood wants them to look beyond “Stacy’s Mom,” their biggest hit. “I tried to talk him out of ‘Stacy’s Mom,’” Collingwood tells Rolling Stone in a long-ranging interview. “He was too good a writer to have that be his calling card, and the success of a novelty song means that’s just what you are to the public, from that moment on forever. It’s sad to me that people reading his obituary will all know that song, and only a very tiny percentage of them will ever hear ‘I-95’ or ‘The Girl I Can’t Forget,’” off 2007’s Traffic and Weather and 2005’s Out-of-State Plates, respectively.
Schlesinger, of course, would go on to write many novelty songs for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, for which he worked as executive music producer and earned an Emmy. And, Collingwood admits, the rest of the band was on board with “Stacy’s Mom” during the sessions for their 2003 album Welcome Interstate Managers. “I was the only one who didn’t think a novelty hit was a good thing,” he said. “It’s like being able to tell a really good story — like ‘Fire Island,’ which he wrote for that album — but deciding instead to tell a joke and jump off stage. He deserves to be remembered for more than a punch line.” So, how does Collingwood think Schlesinger should be remembered? “He viewed himself as a craftsman and not an artist, a word he considered pretentious,” Collingwood said. “He worked diligently every day, even when he didn’t feel like it, which is true of a lot of successful people, and probably the greatest single difference between us.”