Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh

La, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

I seen ya around for a long long time
I really remember you when you drank my wine

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

I'd seen ya walking down in Chinatown
I called ya but you could not look around

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

I pay my money to the welfare line
I see ya standing in it every time

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

The color of your skin don't matter to me
As long as we can live in harmony

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

I'd kinda' like to be the president
So I could show you how your money's spent

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

Sometimes I don't speak right
But yet I know what I'm talking about

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

I know you're working for the CIA
They wouldn't have you in the mafia

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends

Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends
Why can't we be friends


Lyrics submitted by jdeeregirloh

Why Can't We Be Friends? Lyrics as written by Gerald Goldstein Charles Miller

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Why Can't We Be Friends? song meanings
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19 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI'll take a crack at this... I don't think it's one person to one person, as some have said (there's multiple people singing the song actually I believe, at least one black and one white). Another thing others have said that I believe over-simplifies it is cutting it all down to race. I think other lyrics don't fit that so well, and fill up a narrative that says people shouldn't fight and divide themselves because of any group characteristics... race, class, etc.

    "I seen you 'round for a long long time
    I really 'membered you when you drink my wine"

    Not entirely sure about this one, but I think it could be unspecific, just a framer for the rest of the specific pleas for peace. Historically, groups that fight now may have gotten along, traded with and befriended each other, or been in the same boat against more pressing concerns.

    "I seen you walkin' down in Chinatown
    I called you but you could not look around"

    Probably black -> white. Black guy is kinda hurt when he asks what time it is or something on the street, and a white person assuming he's surrounded by shady characters and criminals keeps his head straight forward and eyes down and walks swiftly from point A to B, not daring turn and talk to him for fear of something bad happening if he even slows down.

    "I bring my money to the welfare line
    I see you standing in it every time"

    Probably upper class -> lower. He doesn't want to be the target of hatred or jealousy for where he is, he wants the poorer folks to succeed to and knows he pays taxes into programs that try to get them on their feet (I'd add creating jobs out of thin air via increased production, but that doesn't fit the narrative below). He probably doesn't want to see that person grow dependent on the scraps that are dropped, and wants the guy to not be there next week, having used the money to get some measure of success.

    "The color of your skin don't matter to me
    As long as we can live in harmony"

    Probably white -> black. Kind of outlines a vicious circle of division, if you see it as addressed to the previous black-white guy, or one of them who didn't ask to be friends but said "you know, f them." The white guy doesn't want to be lumped into the others who look down on people because of skin color, and probably is treated as such by some blacks.

    "I'd kinda like to be the President
    so I can show you how your money's spent"

    Probably lower class -> upper. Almost a retort to the upper class guy above; the more naive upper class people are thinking only in terms of taxes-to-charity and like they're doing the poor a gigantic favor, but in reality the welfare systems are broken and cause dependency (okay maybe that part is just me) and don't work like the upper class wanted them to, and most of those taxes are basically stolen by special interest anyway, thrown away in other wasteful programs - it's not like the poor actually benefit from all those millions of dollars were taken from the upper, he says. (On the plus side, a mutual enemy? Wasteful burdensome government and special interests?)

    "Sometimes I don't speak [right]
    but yet I know what I'm talking about"

    Here's where it gets murky for me. If you're thinking in terms of race it seems like a no brainer, but as I've said I'm not sure even half the song is about that specifically, and, a white guy sings that verse, if the video I saw is to be believed. It could be. It could also be south -> north, rural -> urban, masses -> elites, anyone who is underestimated in terms of intelligence. After this is also where the song actually starts to get a little more confrontational (lol).

    "I know you're working for the CIA
    they wouldn't have you in the Mafia"

    So, yeah. This sounds nothing like he wants to be friends, right? Maybe this is a hearkening back to the common enemy, then? Liars and crooks, up to and including the government, perhaps, that regular good people really need to concentrate on addressing instead of singling each other out because of race or class or upbringing. Or maybe, the whole song is farcical, like a parody, and the answer to "why" is very clear, that a lot of people among us are f'ing things up and making it impossible to embrace across these lines of division. (In the video, it doesn't just show whites and blacks cornily hugging or handshaking or putting arms around shoulders, but also a guy in a klan hood making friends with a black guy... but then I guess it signifies ending what the klan is, and the black guy is wearing all black and may be supposed to be a black panther party guy... all in all it's not so damning.)

    Also in the video:
    - hard-hat and collared-shirt wearing white guy making friends with a much less straight-laced-looking white guy with a bandanna around is forehead, probably a hippie or other subculture (conservative and liberal? norms and hippies?)
    - a guy wearing what looks like bargain bin or goodwill clothes (not rags, exactly) making friends with a guy in a business suit and a top hat (poor and rich)
    - prior and later groups hanging together that are different races or just dressed/looking different

    All in all I'd say it's more likely to be positive than parody, and I think a big part of what they were saying desperately still needs to be heard, decades later. Racism isn't nearly as prevalent... but ideas of "class warfare" are alive and well... surely someone here already thought that there's no way the goodwill guy should accept that someone else is rich, and instead demand what he has. End the class war, people; just because someone has something doesn't mean they stole it from someone who doesn't (at one point, everyone had nothing, relative to today)... for those that are rich *and* used the initiation of force or fraud to get or maintain that, sure you can be their enemy, but that's not the average rich person (they operate voluntarily, instead, giving other people what they value more for the money/effort/product they get)... that force part sounds a lot more like the average power-hungry regime/autocrat/politician.

    No one should initiate force against anyone else, be they far richer, or far poorer, or from different backgrounds... live and let live... oh and lets be friends.
    Vet223on May 06, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhy cant we be friends anyway????
    G-Manon September 16, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti dunno... any clues anyone?

    maybe the person doesn't exist hmm
    mairion May 24, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always think of Dazed and Confused when I hear this in the scene where the senior girls abuse the shit out of the freshmen girls.
    kfe2on February 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAlright, lemme' take a whack at this one.

    Far as I can tell, the singer is most likely african-american, hinted at mainly by the line "The color of your skin don't matter to me", or maybe the person he's talking about is. Either way, there's a racial thing goin' on here.
    The speaker believes that in every way that he is compatible with this guy, and that they could quite easily be friends. However, the racial barrier stands between these two people and for that simple reason, he can't assosciate himself with them. The song simply addresses that skin colour shouldn't be a parameter in any way, shape or form, and that people who only see people and not race, will have the best lot in life.

    It just goes to show, racism is just plain stupid, everytime, all the time.
    I can totally identify with this one.
    hflevackon April 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is the song at the end of Lethal Weapon 4.
    craigbenjion June 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNOW FRY LIKE BACON YOU LITTLE FRESHMAN PIGGIES! FRY!!
    24hourstogoon July 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is so simple but so freaking great... and Dazed and Confused is the best damn movie ever.
    PinkFloydrulezon September 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have a faster version of this song, but I don't know who covered it! X(
    celebrindalon April 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentProbably Smash Mouth that covered it?
    Maybe?
    iforgoton August 01, 2007   Link

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