The Story and Meaning Behind “Someday, Someway,” Marshall Crenshaw’s Bouncy Throwback Hit

Many 1980s hits were very much of that era, time-stamped by their production techniques and instrumental flourishes. “Someday, Someway” by Marshall Crenshaw bucked that trend. It recalled a bygone era of pop tunefulness, which is why it has stood the test of time better than a lot of songs that surrounded it on the charts back in 1982.

Videos by American Songwriter

What was the song about? Why was Crenshaw essentially covering his own song? And how did a family member help him find the perfect touch on the recording? Let’s dive deep into the making and meaning of “Someday, Someway,” one of the most infections singles the ’80s had to offer.

The Marshall Plan

Marshall Crenshaw first gained recognition as a cast member in the musical Beatlemania. Perhaps that experience imbued him with a sense of smart pop songcraft. In any case, Crenshaw wasn’t content simply singing the songs of others. As he prepared to leave the show, he also started writing songs he intended to record for himself.

Crenshaw was already holding himself to a high standard with his songwriting, even in those earliest efforts, one of which was “Someday, Someway.” He explained to this author for the book Playing Back the ’80s: A Decade of Unstoppable Hits he pushed to have words that were as meaningful as they were catchy:

“I knew that the words had some substance to them. And that they suggested layers of meaning. But I didn’t analyze it at all. The main thing was just to have the words fit the groove and fit the melody, just to push the song along. But on the other hand, I never wanted to write throwaway lyrics.”

Clearly, Crenshaw did something right with “Someday, Someway” because the song was recorded even before he had a deal to record it himself. Robert Gordon, an artist who had shifted from punk to more of a rockabilly vibe, took a shine to the throwback feel of the track and recorded it in 1981. It scored well in New York City, which pushed record labels in Crenshaw’s direction.

When it came to recording his own album in 1982, Crenshaw wanted to include “Someday, Someway.” But his efforts to record the track were at first somewhat futile, as the rhythm section of Chris Donato on bass and Crenshaw’s brother Robert on drums tried to find the right groove. After many attempts, they decided to call it a night and try again the next day.

When they hit the studio the following day, they decided to first go through the takes they’d done on “Someday, Someway” and isolate the tracks. In doing so, they found a take where the drums were just the right feel for what Crenshaw wanted. That proved to be the foundation for the version of the song that hit the Top 40.

What is the Meaning of “Someday, Someway”?

“Someday, Someway” impresses because of how much Crenshaw is able to do in just a couple of verses, a chorus, and a middle eight. That title phrase is loaded, because it hints at a future time that might or might not arrive. When he adds the kicker, Maybe I’ll understand you, that leaves the outcome even more in doubt.

In the first verse, the narrator sets up the frustration inherent in his current romantic relationship: If you can’t tell me what you need / All I can do is wonder why. He wants to show her his gratitude: All I really want to do / Is take the love you brought my way / And give it all right back to you. The middle eight suggests this is a mutually destructive setup: You’ve taken everything from me / I’ve taken everything from you.

And yet, his loyalty remains: I’ll love you for my whole life through. That kind of unvarnished emotion is what drew folks to “Someday, Someway,” especially as much of the rest of the ’80s pop music world was embracing irony. It established Marshall Crenshaw as a crafter of songs that were somehow lovingly vintage and engagingly fresh, a quality he still delivers to his fans to this day.

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

The Story and Meaning Behind “Tears of Rage” by The Band, the Collaboration with Bob Dylan that Leads off Their Debut Album

Janis Joplin

4 Legendary Musicians Who Deserve Authentic Biopics