"That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" as written by and Jacob Brackman Carly Simon....
My father sits at night with no lights on
His cigarette glows in the dark
The living room is still
I walk by, no remark
I tiptoe past the master bedroom where
My mother reads her magazines
I hear her call sweet dreams
But I forgot how to dream

But you say it's time we moved in together
And raised a family of our own, you and me
Well, that's the way I've always heard it should be
You want to marry me, we'll marry

My friends from college they're all married now
They have their houses and their lawns
They have their silent noons
Tearful nights, angry dawns
Their children hate them for the things they're not
They hate themselves for what they are
And yet they drink, they laugh
Close the wound, hide the scar

But you say it's time we moved in together
And raised a family of our own, you and me
Well, that's the way I've always heard it should be
You want to marry me, we'll marry

You say we can keep our love alive
Babe all I know is what I see
The couples cling and claw
And drown in love's debris
You say we'll soar like two birds through the clouds
But soon you'll cage me on your shelf
I'll never learn to be just me first
By myself

Well okay, it's time we moved in together
And raised a family of our own, you and me
Well, that's the way I've always heard it should be
You want to marry me, we'll marry
We'll marry


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"Thats the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" as written by Carly Simon Jacob Brackman

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThis song makes me sad because it's very real , and not fairy-taleish like many of my favourite love songs. It's about her growing cynical about the institution of Marriage, and she remembers how distant and lonely her parents were despite having each other and how her all her married friends have problems even though they live picture perfect lives . she agrees to marry her boyfried because that's what's expected of her and is supposed to be like a natural progression of their relationship , but she is not entirely convinced that their marriage will not eventually end up unhappy like everyone else's.
    Librangirlon July 09, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is so beautiful, but very very very depressing. And true. What's the point, everyone ends up hating each other or getting divorced, right?
    imabee3on December 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI feel like she's settling. She wants to be free, maybe a little selfish, but instead settles for what is expected of her. I imagine her to be older and people are expecting her to settle down and start a family. This is how I feel, I'm at an age where a husband and family are expected of me. I imagine one day I will have to settle and do what is expected of me.
    riccaroni31on January 12, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song ComparisonHer contemporary, Neil Diamond, wrote another dreary (yet also hopeful) song about marriage.

    Husbands and Wives

    I practiced for weeks singing it, intending to sing it at my brother's wedding, with the intention of emphasizing the hopeful part.

    That line, the refrain, is:

    A woman and a man
    And a mana and a woman
    Some can
    And some can't
    But some....can

    These are two cautionary tales about what can happen if you DO just decide to "settle" and do what you think is "expected of you".

    You know what else you're expected to do some day? DIE.

    I trust no one in their right mind is in a hurry to fulfill THAT expectation.

    Marry, if you must. But do not make it out of obligation or out of the fear of living alone. There are worse things than being lonely. Being in a loveless marriage where both people are so resentful that they feel "trapped" is a lot worse than being alone. Sometimes it can lead to terrible things. If children are conceived in a loveless marriage, the results can be quite awful.

    All that said, I think there is hope for everyone. We need to be honest with each other, talk about our feelings and stay focused on our common humanity. Love CAN be created within a loveless marriage. Children from broken homes CAN heal that wound inside and find lover themselves. It requires facing the truth and ridding ourselves of the silly romanticism about love and bringing the highest form of love we can to every situation. The recognition of our oneness.

    All is one. No one is truly separated. We are like the facets of an infinite jewel, merely reflections of the light which is the love from our source. Without the jewel, and without that light, we are nothing. In fact, the jewel and the light are all we truly are. We are not the facets. Our illusory, individuated conscious is a manifestation of a much larger whole. We are the same thing. We are one.

    Anyone heard a song that says that? I have, but they are only in Hindi and Arabic. Any song writers in English wanna try that?
    CravenImageson February 25, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSpooky little song.
    gweepson November 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    Song Meaningomg this song describes my brother's engagement.
    myownheartbeaton August 24, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My Opinionalmost suicidal- slow depressing tragic -sounds like a funeral dirge.Carly introduced this as a weird song about marriage.
    captlafl69on October 03, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes...it does sound like she is settling. I think its so much more important to strive to be happy as opposed to striving not to be unhappy. The 1920s poem the desiderata certainly teaches us that. My Dad loves that poem.

    My parents have been married for 54 years. My mother is now sick with stage 4 melanoma and you can see the fear...depression and sadness in my Dad's face and hear it in his voice. No...he did not settle.

    My Dad's grief when my Mother is gone will serve as a reminder to me...that love is real and can last. Marriage does not have to be an emotional graveyard. I certainly hope that Carly's song was not a true depiction of her life.
    60minmanon July 23, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationClearly we have to live within reality This song is written By a male in a few view points as a duet . Let me explain , It get much better and sadder . If you listen . Foot note- Jones beach is a reference to the addiction of love ( the Jones boys, addiction )
    First Verse - From a Mans view as the child in him . The Inner child's .Memories
    My father sits at night with no lights on
    His cigarette glows in the dark Ext (shortened for readability )
    Two and three Duet Chorus
    Female voice But you say it's time we moved in together
    And raised a family of our own, you and me,( She is pleading )
    Male Voice ,,Well, that's the way I've always heard it should be
    You want to marry me, we'll marry.(, He submits )
    Second verse -
    My friends from college they're all married now
    They have their houses and their lawns
    They have their silent noons
    Tearful nights, angry dawns
    Their children hate them for the things they're not
    They hate themselves for what they are
    And yet they drink, they laugh
    Close the wound, hide the scar

    He is doubtful about marriage , from what He has seen as a child . He see's but she is wooing him .
    Chorus again , The same
    Female voice , But you say it's time we moved in together
    And raised a family of our own, you and me
    He submits again .
    Last verse -
    Male Voice , And this is the important part look at the words .
    You say we can keep our love alive
    Babe all I know is what I see
    The couples cling and claw
    And drown in love's debris
    You say we'll soar like two birds through the clouds
    But soon you'll cage me on your shelf
    I'll never learn to be just me first
    By myself
    The words -You say ... He is talking with someone, A female . She is convincing him to Marry .
    We see this would have made a great duet , But Carly is so good she does it as a ballad . but , she does leave clues to the meaning and why .
    Beer me ,Thank you .
    joeb3414on May 05, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree mostly with the previous comments, but believe that the words
    "I'll never learn to be just me first
    By myself"
    mean that it actually takes the restricting nature of marriage to bring forth one's own identity; only when one realises that you are not happy by succumbing to another's wishes and desires, can you start to look around and find yourself. Until you marry or live with someone you expect that to be the end goal, but then afterwards you realise that you actually need to be yourself, whatever that happens to be. Almost paradoxically, it takes being with someone else to help you learn to be yourself.
    john101169on April 16, 2017   Link

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