That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be

Album: Carly Simon (1971)
Charted: 10


  • This was Carly Simon's first single, appearing just as the singer-songwriter era was coming to fruition. The song shows a family life in shambles underneath its affluent veneer, with the singer fearing that her own future holds more of the same. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Santa Barbara, CA
  • A singer-songwriter named Jacob Brackman wrote the lyrics. He and Simon met when they were counselors at a summer camp in 1967; they wrote several songs together, which appeared on Simon's first three albums. Simon cites Brackman as a major influence in her development as a songwriter, and was amazed at his ability to fit lyrics to a melody without using clichés.
  • It's hard to believe that a man wrote the lyrics, which are clearly from a woman's point of view, but the song came out of a conversation Simon had with Brackman. He was going through some relationship troubles that were very similar to Simon's: His girlfriend moved in with him and he was worried about giving up some of his identity and personal space as he felt an infringement on his territory.
  • Simon reflected on this caustic look at marriage in an interview with The Independent, March 11, 2010. She said: "When I first wrote it I thought it was an unusual thing for people to break up, and now all my friends are divorced."
  • This was the only single released from Simon's self-titled debut album. She followed up with Anticipation later in 1971, scoring another modest hit with the title track. Her career went stratospheric with her third album, No Secrets, which contained the #1 hit "You're So Vain."

Comments: 18

  • Nevada G from Pahrump,nevadaLOVE IT, and so haunting, real...came out after HS, and was thinking along the same lines.,didn't need an excuse to beat the draft, just to sort out the facts, after years of hell (inflicted on us kids), my parents finally got divorced ...but I came to this site because I also am confused by her statement that she "...heard it @ JB..."
  • Mrs. Sandhill from SnowbirdsCarly kept me single till 40.
    Glad I did.
  • Madeline from ScroginI lived this song in 19969 but in my life I had already done the dirty deed. I got married oh so young, partly to keep my future husband from going to Vietnam, wherever that was. (When our divorce was finalized he got his notice, college deferments would no longer protect him.) When after 18 months of marriage I had just gotten a great job and my husband started talking about moving away from the city and starting a family I got so nauseous I went back home to think. And then I started a trial separation. By the way my father sat around in the dark smoking a cigarette with a bottle of beer by his side. He hated that I was leaving my husband and couldn't that I had to. I was only 19 then.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 6th 1971, Carly Simon was appearing at the Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles, and backstage after her performance she was introduced* to James Taylor...
    Five days later on April 11th, 1971 her debut charted record, "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be", entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 at #98; twelve weeks later on July 4th it would peak at #10 {for 2 weeks} and it spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    Between 1971 and 2001 she had twenty-two Top 100 records; four made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "You're So Vain" for 3 weeks in 1973...
    She just missed having a second #1 record when "Nobody Does It Better" peaked at #2 for 3 weeks in 1977; the three weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for those 3 weeks was "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone...
    * And one year and seven months later on November 3rd, 1972 they were married.
  • Jr from Sacramento CaActually, In the you tube video of this track she says "I'm going to sing a song I heard on Jones Beach". How cans she be credited for the song if she clearly says it was a song she heard on jones beach??? Here's the link.

  • Chad from PhiladelphiaThis song is about a man (Jacob) not wanting to be tied down by a woman. I disagree that it is from the women's view; it is from the Man's view. 1. Women say it's time we moved in together. Men would propose. 2. Men talk about house and their LAWNs more so than women. I see nothing in this song that suggests it is from the woman's perspective.
  • Robert from Georgetown, TexasI have enjoyed this song since it was first released and never tire of listening to it. Carly's vocal is flawless. The orchestration is perfect. The significant drum solo before the last refrain is genius. While there is no connection that I am aware of, when I listen to this song I always run scenes in my head from the movie "The Graduate" which features two young adults from dysfunctional families leaping into marriage when they barely know each other.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhOh, btw, when listening to this song on my ipod, the instruments/orchestration really stand out and compliment the singing amazingly.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhI, too, remember hearing this song for the first time at age 12. Carly was on TV, my older sister and her friend were watching and my mom came in. She said, "Is that a boy or a girl?" Because when Carly first came on to the scene, she had a strong androgenous look. Her look was so very different from other women in music and TV at that time. Clearly, she was the Angelina Jolie of the day, sultry and sexual. I picked up on the melancholy words to this tune right away. I believe the song created such a stir because at that time,it was unusual for a woman to question the idea of marriage. Every girl was supposed to have the "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best" kind of mentality, that a woman's main goal in life was to marry and have children and create the 'perfect' life....or at least, the illusion of it.
  • Paul from Washington Dc, DcI was a nine year old kid the first time I heard this while I was getting ready for bed one night,and immediately dug it. I even had a bit of understanding of the lyrics at that tender age. In particular I find the cello in the background adds a gothic touch. Now, I'm a Gay man who has never been married, so I guess that a lot of people would tell me just to sit down and shut up where marriage and children are concerned, but I am very empathic and very much in touch with the human condition, and a great song like this, whatever one's interpretation of it may be, represents artistry at its finest.
  • Chip from Stratford, CtAs Doug said, I heard this song when it first came out almost 40 years ago. I never really paid attention to the lyrics. Now that I'm a father and my girls are grown and gone it kind of has more meaning. I never had a problem with my kids but you wonder if they feel this way about you. Chip
  • Constance from Dallas, TxI love this song. Very well written. The music is unquie in the way the band played it. This song is raw and real. i have not had any children yet or gotten married. I wonder how I will relate to this song after becoming a wife and mother.
  • Sandy from Huntington, NyYes, Kristin from AL. And they all live in New York. Remember that Carly's Dad was the head of Simon & Schuster publications. She observed her parent's failing marriage, her father's affairs through the eyes of an affluent girl living in New York City. Interestingly enough, Carly had the reputation of having many lovers herself over the years and her own fidelity issues. Kind of self-fullfilling prophecy. One of Carly's best songs.
  • Paul from Greenwich, CtI loved this song when I first heard it when I was 17 and had my first girlfriend. We'll marry? And then I listened to the actual lyrics a few years later and it was so haunting and emotional, but still beautiful. This and "Nobody Does it Better" are my two favorites from Carly Simon.
  • Robert from Atlanta, GaThe line about her married friends - "their children hate them for the things they're not; they hate themselve for what they are" is just absolutely chilling. It didn't hit home for me until I became a parent and felt ecclipsed by it all.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaI'm surprised there are not more comments about this sight. It is brilliant and insightfuland succint--all Carly 's strong points. Her fears of getting married are completely valid. I would think this song was an anthem among young women looking at the road ahead.
  • Doug from Kansas City, Mowell I have always liked this tune since I first heard it nearly 40 years ago. Didnt pay much attention to the lyrics..those were harder to get back then. Kind of a negative view of marriage and family life if you aske me. You get out of it what you put into it. (married 20 years..2 kids)
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlWOW - this song is so great sounding, yet the lyrics are so creepy, mainly when you realize that there are people living this way today.
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