top of page

The Way It Will Be - Gillian Welch





Something beautiful and sad, hopeless, yet overflowing with musical and lyrical hope, as if the humanity in humanity will always out, in the end, "The Way It Will Be" by the peerless Gillian Welch.


Unusually for me, I've posted the live version, not available on vinyl, simply because, as I watch Gillian Welch and David Rawlings reduce the customers in Puckett's Grocery and Restaurant, Nashville, to awed silence, I always end up feeling the world might, after all, find a way to save itself. You can find the original studio version, equally excellent, on Gillian's terrific 2011 album, "The Harrow and the Harvest" which is the recording I have posted on the Spotify Uncle Stylus Music list.


And this is a song about war, and how war can damage relationships, or more specifically, a person's ability to maintain a relationship. The song is addressed to a veteran of the American campaign in Burma in the Second World War, hence the repeated jungle war terminology, especially the "You said it's him or me" of the chorus.


The YouTube post of the song also features my favourite YouTube comment of all time, or used to, as I can't find it anymore, which went something like this: "Don't worry blonde lady, I did your crying for you."


Meanwhile, in the spirit of universal co-operation, here are the lyrics so that you can sing along and try to harmonise as the world should try to harmonise. Happy New Year:


"I lost you awhile ago

but still I don't know why.

I can't say your name

without a crow flying by.

Gotta watch my back now

that you turned me around -

got me walking backwards

into my hometown.


Throw me a rope

on the rolling tide.

What did you want me to be?

You said it's him or me.

The way you made it

that's the way it will be.


It was seven years on the Burma shore

with Gatling guns and paint

working the lowlands door-to-door

like a latter day saint,

then you turn me out

at the top of the stairs.

You took all the glory

that you just couldn't share


Throw me a rope

on the rolling tide.

What did you want me to be?

You said it's him or me.

The way you made it

that's the way it will be.


I've never been so disabused,

never been so mad.

I've never been served anything

that tasted so bad.

You might need a friend

any day now, any day,

oh my brother, be careful -

you are drifting away.


Throw me a rope

on the rolling tide.

What did you want me to be?

You said it's him or me.

The way you made it,

that's the way it will be.

The way you made it

that's the way it will be."

bottom of page