The Way It Is By Bruce Hornsby & The Range

The Way It Is

1986 | Pop

Spotify | Amazon

“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."


  • The song hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 & Adult Contemporary charts as well as #3 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
  • The third verse recounts the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Bruce Hornsby was a member of the Grateful Dead from September 1990 to March 1992, playing over 100 shows during that period.


Luke Tatum

The affirmative action song? I jest, this is great stuff. From the instrumentation to the cinematography of the music video, I really love this. Is human nature unchangable? Are races built to despise one another? My answer is yes to the first and no to the second. Humans are humans are humans, but we can each control our own impulses. The question is, then, how do we arrange things to minimize the maladaptive effects of human nature? The answer does NOT seem to be "put a few people in charge of everyone else, and give them a monopoly on violence" as that has spelled disaster repeatedly. Society is slow to change, but if every person is fully responsible for their own actions, things will tend to benefit society as a whole, rather than providing a convenient path for ripping everyone off.

Sherry Voluntary

I actually really like Bruce Hornsby's music, and this song. He's wrong about a lot of his solutions, but he's not wrong that there have been "rules" that have been systemic withing The State system that have put minorities at clear and substantial disadvantages. Those things have had far reaching and lasting consequences on minority communities. The real solution to this is not MORE of the government that institutionalized racism, but less intervention and more bolstering of individual rights. Many black communities in this country were highly innovative at coming up with solutions to get around racism and segregation. Black schools and colleges, fraternal organizations that helped people pool resources for medical care, opening businesses that catered to people of color, etc. The biggest problem with progressives and conservatives is that their solution almost always involves government and those solutions make the problems worse, not better, and over time have put many minorities in a worse situation. Libertarians trust people to handle their own lives and situations. And without State intervention, people tend to be able to figure life out for themselves just fine.

Nicky P

I'll start out with the fact that I think this is a great song and I love the Tupac song "Changes" that samples it. I love how hopeful it is. I love that it focuses on being cognizant of history and not buying the narrative you're spoon-fed about how reality is. That's where my appreciation ends. The song is about trying to find solutions and, when the results aren't as desired, pushing the same flawed methodology. I'm thinking specifically the 1964 Civil rights act. Many look at it as an unequivocal good but I'm not as certain. Now before jumping to dumb conclusions take this from someone who married a black woman and has a biracial child. I spend more time dwelling on the social implications of racial differences and disparities in culture and the economy than most. I have worries every time my wife leaves in a car. The problem is one that even this song recognizes: laws can't change what's in a man's heart. They can cause more strife forcing people to interact who don't want to. Mind you the issues the act tried to solve were largely all government creations in the first place. Let's never forget Jim Crow laws were a reaction to the truism that money knows no race and profit will integrate quicker than anything else on earth so as it always happens people will harness government to force what they want. It's also not beyond my attention that prior to the drug war blacks & whites had roughly the same status economically. So yet again we use government as a way to solve problems government created. Why not just remove the thing causing the problems. Incentives is my guess. At any rate this song to me praises government intervention into its own interventions. This was a huge number one and ranks on the Billboard Best Of All Time chart. The road to hell and all that...

Created By
Nicky P

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