"The Way It Will Be" as written by and David Rawlings Gillian Welch....
I lost you awhile ago
But still I don't know why
I can't say your name
Without a crow flying by
Gotta watch my back now
That you turned me around
Got me walking backwards
Into my hometown

Throw me a rope
On the rolling tide
What did you want me to be?
You said it's him or me
The way you made it
That's the way it will be

It was seven years on the burning shore
With gatling guns and paint
Working the lowlands door-to-door
Like a Latter Day Saint
Then you turn me out
At the top of the stairs
You took all the glory
That you just couldn't share

I've never been so disabused
Never been so mad
I've never been served anything
That tasted so bad
You might need a friend
Any day now, any day
Oh my brother, be careful
You are drifting away

Throw me a rope
On the rolling tide
What did you want me to be?
You said it's him or me
The way you made it
That's the way it will be

The way you made it
That's the way it will be

Lyrics submitted by smallwonderrobot, edited by usedtohaveadollar

"The Way It Will Be" as written by Gillian Welch David Rawlings


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The Way It Will Be song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentI believe it's "What did you want it to be?" not "What did you want me to be?" "It" refers to a relationship that has been broken.

    He dumped her. It still has her devastated. She can't say his name without a crow flying by. He's got her walking backwards into her hometown. It hit her hard, with long lasting consequences.

    He left her out of jealousy. He made an ultimatum: him or me. He lays out his conditions. The he makes it, is the way it will be. He has preconceived ideas about how the relationship should go.

    He burnt a bridge. He's still burning bridges. Even though he hurt her, she still cares, and she fears he's moving in a direction that leads to loneliness and great suffering. But, he made it that way. That's the way it will be.
    jweyekon July 09, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with a lot of this..and I always got the sense the choice forced upon her was between the relationship and her close work with David Rawlings).

    I would argue that this song is not a "dumping", but more of a complete betrayal, and this cuts to the core..hence that line about walking backward in your hometown. Betrayal by someone you love causes you to lose trust in all of humanity for awhile.

    I don't believe there is no way she could choose out of her work with Dave, they have something so special they know it. I believe this whole sad story eventually gave her the conviction that music is her life path. But, good lord, I hope the love that so many of us fans have for them somehow consoles the loss in this sad story.
    riteron September 27, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with everything the first two contributors have said. I just wanted to comment on how powerful these lyrics are. Not too many songwriters can evoke this level of emotional experience, and still imbue it with such poetic beauty. To be honest, she could have been singing about me. But I'm still living and learning.
    terryoison August 29, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationConfusion over complete loss of a relationship. And deep hurt.

    I like what one commenter said about this song referring to a "complete betrayal."

    The lyrics are visually and emotionally evocative.

    The "black crow" seems to symbolize a destructive element, continued suffering, almost a curse.

    Walking backwards into hometown: The author had to go home to seek refuge, and had to go home "walking backwards" at that, representing disgrace.

    There is a sense of dysfunction. Despite the awful hurt caused by the betrayer, the betrayed still begs for betrayer to throw author a survival rope. Can't seem to let go of the relationship.

    I'm interested by the line: "Be careful my brother, you are drifting away." I get the sense that it's a warning -- if you continue to treat others as you've treated me, you'll be in trouble. Or, maybe the author senses the betrayer not just leaving her, but humanity as well.

    What do people think about the line about "Gatling guns and paint" and "working the lowlands door-to-door"?

    What a song!
    No Sorrowon December 26, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy favourite thing about this song is, even though its told ín first person, I don't necessarily side with the narrator. There's such a deep bitterness there, and almost a sinister threat, that I really want to hear the betrayer's side of the story.

    To me, it doesn't sound like the breakdown of a romantic relationship, but more like a partnership of the kind told in countless stories of entrepreneurship/showbiz/riches where penniless brothers or friends leave town to make their fortune, work hard side-by-side, and then when fame and luck finally comes they turn on each other. End frame of movie where one is bitter and destitute and full of blame, and the other has the glory and all the guilt and regret that comes with it. I don't think it's anything about Gillian & Dave personally, just another two of those fabulously ambiguous characters they create in their music.

    Also, it doesn't make any sense to me, but the line is definitely "Burma shore".
    manyotherthingon May 08, 2016   Link

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