"The Way It Is" as written by and Bruce Hornsby....
Standing in line marking time--
Waiting for the welfare dime
'Cause they can't buy a job
The man in the silk suit hurries by
As he catches the poor old ladies' eyes
Just for fun he says "Get a job"

That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is
But don't you believe them

They say hey little boy you can't go
Where the others go
'Cause you don't look like they do
Said hey old man how can you stand
To think that way
Did you really think about it
Before you made the rules
He said, Son

That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is
But don't you believe them

Well they passed a law in '64
To give those who ain't got a little more
But it only goes so far
Because the law another's mind
When all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar

That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is
But don't you believe them


Lyrics submitted by Ara Raven

"The Way It Is" as written by Bruce Hornsby

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Way It Is song meanings
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23 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentThis song has a great message and some great piano work. I think the song is saying that if we just accept that "that's just the way it is", then nothing will ever change, but if you don't believe it, then things can change.
    Zepfreakon September 25, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSo many things to write. First of all, Bruce loved Tupac's version so there's that. Also, while this song is an obvious criticism of the Reagan administration, I've always thought the chorus was a challenge to the listener. Maybe that's the way it is, or is it? The use of the phrase in the context of segregation to me means that it's only the way it is if we don't do something to change it. Anyway, growing up in the south, I'm used to the phrase "that's just the way it is" as a constant refrain. It's a lie used to explain injustice, but perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy. I always felt challenged to not accept the status quo whenever I heard the song.
    jmclenon August 04, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My OpinionMy dad passed away yesterday morning (RIP) :(, I then listen to this song and it means a lot to me. I know that most people interpret it as racism, but the words are very important to me:

    "That's just the way it is,
    Somethings will never change"

    Makes me feel better to just accept it and move on because I can't change them.
    jryans10on May 04, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Because the law don't change another's mind
    When all it sees at the hiring time
    Is the line on the color bar"

    I always took this to literally mean what is in the line Race (in the past seen as 'Color') blank on a Job Application. Line=Bar.
    Mickyfinnon September 12, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation"Well they passed a law in '64
    To give those who ain't got a little more
    But it only goes so far..."

    I think this could also hold a double meaning and references The Food Stamp Act of 1964.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    twentythreeon July 24, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is an amazing song and I can't believe I'm the first to comment on it
    Katherine7486on April 27, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti can't believe it either, and than you get A simple plan songs commented 127,000 times when they don't even write their own music! Bruce Hornsby is the man and this song is a great song, lyrics are absolutely beautiful and real.
    LiveUrLifeon May 04, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Because the law don't change another's mind
    When all it sees at the hiring time
    Is the line on the color bar"

    The whole theme of the song rests on these lines, but I'm not quite certain what "the line on the color bar" is. I think it means any hard statistic, like on a graph, used to track racial and demographic data. Any thoughts?
    stoolhardyon December 29, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBruce Hornsby is a genius. See him in concert, he's amazing. This song is a classic and it speaks for itself.
    allan777on April 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe color bar refers to segregation i think, when black people had to queue separately. It says even though the laws changed in the states (a civil Rights act passed by president Johnson in 64) it hasnt changed people's minds, and they are still influenced when choosing people for a job by their colour.
    Mortonium Iceon June 08, 2005   Link

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