Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nina Simone - It Be's That Way Sometimes (comments, lyrics, example)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a five part series that showcases three African American songs and one Caribbean song that have a "that's life" theme. By "that's life themes" I mean songs which reflect and promote the value that some Black people and some non-Black people have of being stoic when bad things happen to them.

This post showcases Nina Simone's 1967 record "It Be's That Way" and also includes a listing of and comments about "That's life" sayings.

Click for Part II of this series. Part II showcases Jimmy Cliff's 1969 record "That’s The Way Life Goes."

Click for Part III of this series. Part III showcases Joe Simon's 1974 record "It Be's That Way Sometimes".

Click for Part IV of this series. Part IV showcases Kurtis Blow's 1980's record "The Breaks" and provides explanations for the various meanings of "the breaks" and other lines including the word "break" that are found in this rap.

Click for Part V of this series. Part V showcases Denise LaSalle's 1985 record "It Be's That Way Sometimes".

Those showcased songs are only a sampling of what I call "that's life" songs.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thank Sam Waymon, thecomposer of this featured song and thanks to Nina Simone for her musical legacy. Thanks also to also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this example on YouTube.

"That's life" is my categorization of songs whose lyrics reflect and promote an attitude and stance that people should be stoic when bad things happen to them. provides this definition for " stoic"[noun] "a person who accepts what happens without complaining or showing emotion". Some common sayings in the United States for this stoic attitude and stance are:
“It bes that way some time", ”That's life". "That's the way life is", "Such is life", "Life goes on", “Tough luck”, "That’s the way the cookie crumbles”, “You win some and you lose some”, “That’s the breaks”, "It is what it is", and "Sh&t happens". Another, less well known saying is the injunction to "suck it up", meaning "internalize the emotions that you feel when something bad happens to you."

My sense is that in some cultures (such as in African American culture) stoicism is an attitude/stance that is valued as a general reaction to life where oppression, poverty, and other difficulties are the norm, and not just a reaction to personal misfortunes.

"It be's that way sometimes" (also written as "It bes that way sometimes" is an African American Vernacular English saying. One way of saying that same thing in Standard American English is "That's the way it is sometimes". According to this saying, instead of reacting in anger or expressing sadness, people are supposed to “keep on keepin on” and are supposed to act like -if not really feel- that “That [what happened or what someone said] don’t make me no never mind”. Another way of saying this is that they are supposed to act like they aren’t “phased” by anything.[that nothing can bother them].

"Brushing the dirt off of your shoulders" is an African American gesture that conveys the same non-concern for something bad that is said about you or something bad that happens to you. That folk gesture is the theme of Jay-Z's 2003 "Dirt off Your Shoulder". Both the gesture and that song were further popularized outside of African American communities when then Presidential candidate Barack Obama mimicked brushing dirt off of his shoulders at a campaign appearance in response to sharp attacks from his then rival Hillary Clinton. Click for a Wikipedia article about that gesture, and click for a video of Barack Obama brushing dirt off of his shoulders.

I believe that one reason why being stoic is so valued in certain African American culture because people living in difficult conditions may think that showing emotions may make them more vulnerable then they already are. However, I question whether this stoic response (or lack of any outward emotional responses) is emotionally healthy. When so high a value is placed on keeping emotions inside, those emotions can eventually cause people to explode. And the consequences to those explosions can be astronomical.

From "NinaSimone... (born Eunice Kathleen Waymon; February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. She worked in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop."...

SHOWCASE EXAMPLE: Nina Simone -It Be's That Way Sometimes-1967 classic wax


ike turna, Uploaded on Jan 29, 2009

The High Priestess of Soul comes with it on this classic.from the album Silk And Soul.recorded from vinyl.

Here's a comment from this sound file's discussion thread:
jazzbass25, 2010
"This song was written by Nina's brother, . Great 70's vibe. I play bass in Sam's band and this song is in our repetoire..Just pure funk!"

(sung by Nina Simone)

When your guy has got his hat,
And made himself hard to find
It doesn't mean you should go crazy,
It be's that way sometime
Find yourself another love
Who will treat you good and kind
Return that love he gives to you,
It also be's that way sometime

Baby, yes it does
Baby, yes it does
Baby, yes it does
Baby, yes it does

When you think you've found a love
And you have peace of mind
Somebody else steals his heart
Yes it also be's that way sometime
Baby, yes it does
Baby, yes it does
Baby, yes it does now
Baby, yes it does

Don't let the problems of this world
Drive you slowly out of your mind
Just smile look at the problem and say
It be's that way, be's that way sometime

Baby, yes it does
Baby, yes it does
Baby, yes it does now
Baby, yes it does
Baby, oh.....


This ends Part I of this series.

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