♫ The Way It Is ♫

Sometimes one of you refers to a song when commenting on my music posts, and a 💡comes on … an AHA! moment, as I am reminded of a song I haven’t heard nor thought of in years.  Such was the case yesterday when Roger commented that yesterday’s song reminded him of this one by Bruce Hornsby and the Range.  Well, I remembered the song, always liked the song, but I thought it was ‘Bruce Hornsby and the Rain’.  I went to check and … my bad … Roger was quite right.  Sigh.

The opening verse recounts a story taking place at a line for welfare that illustrates a divide between the rich and poor. The chorus presents several lines insisting that social ills are “just the way it is”, and repeatedly suggests resigning oneself to them as a fact of life—however, the chorus ends with the author rebuking this attitude by insisting “but don’t you believe them.”

The second verse recounts past social issues from the voice of someone supporting racial segregation. The author responds in a narrative voice, insisting his view that if those who make laws took them into careful consideration they would be convinced that laws enforcing principles like racial segregation are morally wrong. The song reminds the listener that it was at one time argued that racial segregation was “just the way it is”, and suggests that legislation and what the author views as progress on current social issues should be pursued without regard to those who insist “some things will never change.”

The third verse recounts the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a victory in the civil rights movement, but insists that more is needed. In particular, the verse highlights individual prejudice and employment discrimination as an enduring form of racism. The third chorus suggests that it only feels like “some things will never change” when we wait for social problems to change themselves rather than taking steps ourselves to actively change them.

The song was released in 1986, and here, 33 years later the song still has relevance, for we are still fighting the same battles.

According to Hornsby, who grew up in Virginia …

“My mother came from the New England area, and she was a little more enlightened about racial subjects than a lot of people in the South. So I had a different attitude to a lot of my friends whose parents were more conservative. When I was brought up, the vibe I got of Martin Luther King in my town was that he was a real evil man – just the vibe in the air, that he was terrible. And if you grow up in that environment you can’t help but be affected by it a little bit. Luckily, I came from a family that guarded us against that conservatism, but sure, I grew up in the thick of all that bad feeling.”

Believe it or not, Sean Hannity used an instrumental portion of this song as his show’s theme for many years. Hornsby, a liberal democrat, had vastly different political views, but there was nothing he could do about Hannity using the song as long as royalties were paid.

The Way It Is
Bruce Hornsby and the Range

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 lady’s 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

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

That’s just the way it is
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

Songwriters: Bruce Hornsby
The Way It Is lyrics © Zappo Music, Sony Atv Music Publishing France, SONY/ATV TUNES LLC OBO ZAPPO MUSIC

33 thoughts on “♫ The Way It Is ♫

  1. Jill, this an impactful song. Maybe Hornsby should thank Hannity for educating people about the challenges of blacks in America by playing this song. He will cease doing it with the negative push back froj his base. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, since Hannity used only the instrumental portion and no lyrics, it probably didn’t do much in the way of educating people. Not to mention that the people who watch Hannity aren’t too keen on learning open-minded concepts anyway. It is an impactful song, and I never knew all the lyrics until I researched it last night.

      Like

  2. Unfortunately, even a song like this can only reach some of the ones who need to hear it. Others plain ignore it. I think Woody Guthrie would have loved it. In fact, he would have loved the freedom of rock n roll to say virtually anything one wants.
    Still, if no one hears it, it stays the way it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Aww, too kind…. you chose it!!
    I always wanted to bump into the guy in the silk suit….while I was eating a greasy burger with loads of ketchup and drinking cola, then say ‘Hey! Why don’t youse watch where youse gowan…Jerrr-oik!’
    (WP press is being mean Jill, it won’t let me play the video…huff!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a reflective song, and yes, still so relevant. Will we ever achieve a time when equality for all with regard to anything they are, are truly fully embraced and accepted? I cling to MLK Jr’s statement, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” But it’s sometimes so hard to not lose hope in the face of the news.

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to believe that eventually humans would wake up and put aside their differences, learn to appreciate those differences instead of feeling superior and fighting over them. I’m not so sure I believe that any more. History proves that we keep going right back to the same ol’ bigotries and hatreds, time and time again.

      Liked by 1 person

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