"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
Ah, but don't you believe them

Said, 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
Ah, but don't you believe them"

Oh yeah

(That's just the way it is)

(That's just the way it is) 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 don't change another's mind
When all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar, no, no

That's just the way it is
And some things will never change
That's just the way it is
That's just the way it is, it is, it is, it is


Lyrics submitted by Ara Raven

"The Way It Is" as written by Bruce Hornsby

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Way It Is song meanings
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23 Comments

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  • +3
    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
  • +3
    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
  • +3
    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
  • +2
    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
    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
  • +1
    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
  • +1
    General CommentGreat song and the meanings well put and not fuddled under any false lush imagery. If there's one thing Bruce is good at, he says it like it is. A LOT of groups write their songs with a lot of mystery, i.e. "it could be interpreted this way or that way" but Bruce has a great way with his songwriting. He definitely deserves more kudos than he gets. BTW, the piano riff on this one is too awesome. If anything, the 'lack of flair' in his lyrics is a great foil to his piano play.

    Peace
    daedoloson December 10, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think color bar is symbolic of white and black peoples.

    "Said hey little boy
    you can't go where the others go
    'Cuz you don't look like they do
    Said hey old man
    How can you stand to think that way
    And 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
    Ah, but dont you believe them"

    I believe this is a poor black man talking to his son saying he can't do this or that, but also saying that he really can if he tries..
    f8fbearcaton February 10, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe line about the man in the suit saying 'Get a job' reminds me of American Psycho, when various yuppies taunt the homeless.
    ProfessorSeageron April 17, 2007   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

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