The Way It Is (song)

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"The Way It Is"
Artwork for UK and European vinyl releases
Single by Bruce Hornsby and the Range
from the album The Way It Is
  • "The Red Plains"
  • "The Wild Frontier"
ReleasedSeptember 1986[1]
RecordedStudio D, Sausalito, CA 1985
GenrePop rock
LabelRCA Records
Songwriter(s)Bruce Hornsby
Producer(s)Bruce Hornsby, Elliot Scheiner
Bruce Hornsby and the Range singles chronology
"Every Little Kiss"
"The Way It Is"
"On the Western Skyline"

"The Way It Is" is a song by American rock group Bruce Hornsby and the Range. It was released in September 1986 as the second single from their debut album The Way It Is. It topped the charts in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands in 1986,[2][3] and peaked inside the top twenty in such countries as Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Written by Bruce Hornsby, it made explicit reference to the Civil Rights Movement.[4] Musically, the song is characterized by two long piano solos.

Tupac Shakur sampled the song in his hit "Changes".


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.


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1986–87) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[5] 3
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[6] 16
Ireland (IRMA)[7] 8
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[8] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[9] 23
Spain (AFYVE)[10] 6
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[11] 15
South Africa [12] 13
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[13] 15
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[3] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[3] 1
US Mainstream Rock Tracks (Billboard)[3] 3

All-time charts[edit]

Chart (1958-2018) Position
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 518

Undercover version[edit]

"The Way It Is"
Single by Undercover
from the album Check Out the Groove
ReleasedApril 1, 1993
Format7" single, 12" single, CD maxi
Songwriter(s)Bruce Hornsby
Producer(s)Steve Mac
Undercover singles chronology
"I Wanna Stay with You"
"The Way It Is"

Scottish band Undercover covered "The Way It Is" in 1993. Their version reached #45 in the UK.

Track listings[edit]


  1. The Way It Is (7" Edit) - 3:42
  2. The Way It Is (12" Essential Mix) - 4:20
  3. The Way It Is (Deep Undercover Mix) - 4:41
  4. The Way It Is (Macca At Work Mix) - 4:38

12" Maxi

  1. The Way It Is (12" Essential Mix) - 4:20
  2. The Way It Is (Deep Undercover Mix) - 3:48

7" Single

  1. The Way It Is (7" Edit) - 3:42
  2. The Way It Is (Deep Undercover Mix) - 3:48


Chart (1993) Peak
UK Singles Chart 45
Belgian Singles Chart 32[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Metzger, John (November 2000). "Against the Grain: An Interview with Bruce Hornsby". The Music Box. 7 (11). Retrieved May 4, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d "allmusic ((( Bruce Hornsby > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
  4. ^ "Songfacts: "The Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby". Retrieved May 4, 2007.
  5. ^ " – Bruce Hornsby and the Range – The Way It Is" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  6. ^ " – Bruce Hornsby and the Range Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  7. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 5, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 38, 1986" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  9. ^ " – Bruce Hornsby And The Range – The Way It Is". Top 40 Singles.
  10. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  11. ^ " – Bruce Hornsby And The Range – The Way It Is". Swiss Singles Chart.
  12. ^ Retrieved October 28, 2013
  13. ^ "Bruce Hornsby And The Range: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  14. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  15. ^

External links[edit]