The Way It Is (Bruce Hornsby album)

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The Way It Is
The way it is hornsby.jpg
Studio album by Bruce Hornsby and the Range
Released April 1, 1986
Recorded 1985-86 Rumbo Recorders, Canoga Park; Ocean Way Recording and Capitol Recording Studios, Hollywood; Studio D Recording, Sausalito; King Sound Studios, Hollywood Hills; Village Recorders, Los Angeles.
Genre Rock, soft rock
Length 43:12
Label RCA Records
Producer Bruce Hornsby, Huey Lewis, Elliot Scheiner
Bruce Hornsby chronology
The Way It Is
Scenes from the Southside
Alternative cover art
First U. S. release
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau B–[2]

The Way It Is is Bruce Hornsby and the Range's debut album, released in 1986. Led by its hit title track, the album went on to achieve multi-platinum status and helped the group to win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Other hits from the album include "Mandolin Rain" and "Every Little Kiss". Fellow musician Huey Lewis is also featured on the album, lending his harmonica on "Every Little Kiss" and vocal talents to the track "Down the Road Tonight". Lewis also helped produce the song, along with the tracks "The Long Race" and "The River Runs Low".

The original album cover featured an impressionistic photograph of Bruce Hornsby playing an accordion,[3] and was originally targeted at the New Age music market and featured slightly different versions of the songs "Down the Road Tonight" and "The River Runs Low."

Once the album's tracks started to receive regular airplay on Pop Music stations in late 1986, the album was remixed and was re-released with a new cover featuring a segment of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

Initial release with alternate versions[edit]

The initial release of the CD was very limited. Often called "The Accordion Man" for its alternate cover artwork, it was released in 1986. The album is famous for its three hits, “Mandolin Rain”, “Every Little Kiss”, and, of course, the thought-provoking title track. While you may be very familiar with the album, you may not be aware of the rare first issue on CD, which was quickly replaced with the version we all know.

The standard U.S. CD of The Way It Is was released in 1986 and remains in print under RCA catalog number PCD1-5904. Since it was released in 1986, the first copies that hit store shelves were pressed in Japan. Numerous U.S. pressings have followed. Before this version was released, however, RCA issued The Way It Is on CD in the U.S. under catalog number PCD1-8058. The 8058 issue only exists as a Japanese pressing since it was replaced quickly by the 5904 issue. This rare disc was pressed in Japan by Denon and contains “PCD-18058” in the matrix code.

There are key differences between the two versions of the album: The 8058 issue has a unique album cover and also has unique versions of the songs “Down the Road Tonight” and “The River Runs Low”. It is possible that RCA reissued the album as PCD1-5904 to capitalize on its popularity back in 1986.

It should be noted that there are variations in the booklet content with the 8058 issue. Some copies are found with a list of “RCA COMPACT DISC BEST SELLERS” inside, while other copies have a booklet that folds open to reveal album artwork and lyrics. The album covers are the same for the two 8058 booklets.

The back insert for the 5904 issue references the first version through the statement “Previously released as PCD1-8058”. Shown below is the album cover and back insert along with the CD for the original 8058 issue. This disc is quite rare.

The cover for the rare first U.S. CD issue of Bruce Hornsby and The Range The Way It Is (RCA, catalog number PCD1-8058). The cover was changed when the album was reissued under catalog number PCD1-5904.

The back insert for the rare first U.S. CD issue of Bruce Hornsby and The Range The Way It Is (RCA, catalog number PCD1-8058). The photo shown was used for the cover of the common reissue with catalog number PCD1-5904.

The rare first U.S. CD issue of Bruce Hornsby and The Range The Way It Is (RCA, catalog number PCD1-8058). The disc was pressed in Japan by Denon. The matrix code contains “PCD-18058” in the typical Denon plant dot-matrix font.

Track listing[edit]

Tracks 2 & 5 written by Bruce Hornsby; all other songs written by Bruce Hornsby and John Hornsby. Note the timings reflect the currently available second release of the album.

  1. "On the Western Skyline" - 4:43
  2. "Every Little Kiss" - 5:49
  3. "Mandolin Rain" - 5:19
  4. "The Long Race" - 4:26
  5. "The Way It Is" - 4:58
  6. "Down the Road Tonight" - 4:26
  7. "The Wild Frontier" - 4:04
  8. "The River Runs Low" - 4:28
  9. "The Red Plains" - 5:01

The opening of "Every Little Kiss" features an extended quotation of Charles Ives's second piano sonata. The original release featured a different mix of the entire album with slightly altered track timings. In recent interviews Hornsby said he found this album and the followup "difficult to listen to."

Live: The Way It Is Tour 1986-87 track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Every Little Kiss"   6:27
2. "The Long Race"   6:02
3. "The Way It Is (Solo Piano Intro)"   7:07
4. "The Way It Is"   6:25
5. "Mandolin Rain"   6:31
6. "The Red Plains"   6:44
7. "On the Western Skyline"   6:19

Produced by DIR Broadcasting for the King Biscuit Flower Hour. Recorded live at The Ritz, New York City, February 2, 1987 by Effanel Music.


Bruce Hornsby & The Range[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Huey Lewis – harmonica on "Every Little Kiss", backing vocals on "Down the Road Tonight"
  • John Gilutin, Sean Hopper – additional keyboards


  • Executive Producer: Paul Atkinson
  • Produced by Bruce Hornsby, Elliot Scheiner (for Trackman) and Huey Lewis
  • Recorded & Engineered by Elliot Scheiner & Jim Gaines
  • Assistant Engineers: Jim "Watts" Vereecke, Lenette Viegas
  • Mixed by David Luke, Don Smith, Eddie King & Elliot Scheiner
  • Mastered by Stephen Marcussen


Chart (1986) Peak
The Billboard 200 3
Year Single Chart Position
1986 "The Way It Is" The Billboard Hot 100 1
Billboard Album Rock Tracks 3
Billboard Adult Contemporary 1
"On the Western Skyline" Billboard Album Rock Tracks 6
"Every Little Kiss" The Billboard Hot 100 14
Billboard Album Rock Tracks 18
1987 Billboard Adult Contemporary 3
"Mandolin Rain" The Billboard Hot 100 4
Billboard Adult Contemporary 1
Billboard Album Rock Tracks 2
Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks 38


  1. ^
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 31, 1987). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved April 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ "The first U.S. CD issue of Bruce Hornsby and The Range The Way It Is". Keith Hirsch's CD Resource. Retrieved 3 February 2015.