The same week that Paul Simon’s album Graceland, partly recorded in Apartheid-era South Africa and featuring South African musicians, entered the album charts, another new entry would include a title track dealing with the US Civil Rights movement.
I didn’t buy The Way It Is, but I did buy 1988’s follow-up, Scenes From The Southside. Southside is a fine enough album, but I always felt there was something lacking. Luckily enough, the album’s a bit lopsided, its 9 tracks leaving a convenient 4-5 minute gap at the end of the first side of the tape. So, with the help of a little bit of sticky tape and my trusty twin cassette deck, I made a new and improved Southside. No more minutes of static and silence, this tape’s first side closes with a slightly lo-fi version of The Way It Is. (I did at least have the sense to shun the hi-speed dubbing option, though).
The Way It Is would help Bruce Hornsby to a Grammy award for best new artist the following year, and in the UK would become perhaps better known as the backing music used by the BBC on Grandstand while Bob Wilson ran through the football league tables. It was the go-to piano anthem of the pre-Sebastian Tellier era.
More recently, The Way It Is cropped up in NBC’s comedy Community, when a rewritten version by Pierce Hawthorne became Greendale’s school song.
And Pierce Hawthorne is played by Chevy Chase. Win.