It Doesn't Have to Be That Way

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"It Doesn't Have to Be That Way"
Single by Jim Croce
from the album Life and Times
B-side "Roller Derby Queen"
Released December 1973[1]
Format 7" 45 RPM
Genre Folk rock
Length 2:31
Label ABC
Writer(s) Jim Croce
Producer(s) Terry Cashman
Jim Croce singles chronology
"Time in a Bottle"
(1973)
"It Doesn't Have to Be That Way"
(1973)
"I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song"
(1974)

"It Doesn't Have to Be That Way" is a 1973 single written and recorded by Jim Croce. Released in December of that year, it was the third and final single from his album Life and Times, as well as his second posthumously released single. It reached a peak of 64 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending five weeks on the chart. Because of the Christmas setting and the wintery images associated with its lyrics, the song is often played during the holiday season.

Content[edit]

In the song, the narrator reveals himself to be a man who has recently ended a relationship. As the holiday season approaches, the Christmas atmosphere in his town is evident nearly everywhere, including such things as falling snow, "Christmas lights," "the corner Santa Claus," "sidewalk bands," "icy windowpanes," tinsel, and caroling choirs. As the narrator walks down the "windy winter avenue" and encounters these holiday festivities, he admits that he wishes he and his lover could reunite. Instead of encouraging the holiday spirit, the narrator hints that these elements remind him of past Christmases with his lover, only making him sad that they are no longer together. He notes that these once cheerful things no longer "seem the same," but that it is his sadness over their relationship's end that has caused such a disconnect, and that the festivities themselves are "not to blame." However, even as he encounters these sad reminders, the narrator finds room for optimism, suggesting that "it doesn't have to be that way," and that his relationship with his lover could "easily" be rekindled if they attempted to do so. He suggests that if his lover could only see him as a "lonely man" walking down the street, that she would "understand" his sadness, and agree to reunite. Finally, the narrator resolves to visit his lover's house "today," so that they can "get it together tonight," overcoming their problems to begin their relationship once more. The narrator ends the chorus by noting that his life can only be better with his lover - indeed, "it's only right."

Live performances[edit]

A live version of the song was released on his album Jim Croce Live: The Final Tour.

Covers[edit]

The Ventures covered the song on "The Ventures Play the Jim Croce Songbook"

Track listing[edit]

7" Single (ABC-11413)[2]

  1. "It Doesn't Have To Be That Way " - 2:31
  2. "Roller Derby Queen" - 2:28

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1973-1974) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 64
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 47[3]
Canadian RPM Top Singles 47[4]
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary 53[5]

References[edit]

External links[edit]