The Way We Were chords

by Barbra Streisand
  • The Way We Were was written by Marvin Hamlisch (music) and Alan & Marilyn Bergman (lyrics). The song was recorded in 1973 and released January, 1974 from the album of the same name.
  • Music: Key of A Major in 4/4 time at ~ 70 bpm (♩)
  • Chords: Aadd2, A7, Amaj7, Aadd9, C#m7, C#7, F#m, F#m/E, F#m7, F#7, F#7sus, Dmaj7, D/A, D/E, Bm7, Bm7/A, E7, E7sus/D
  • Aadd2 is an A chord with an added 2nd (B) = A-B-C#-E. Can also be written as A(2)
  • All chord charts can be found below including left-handed charts with options for barre chords or open chords. If you are using a finger-picking style, the open chord alternatives are very nice... all charts below.
Chart Legend
Numbered Circles: Fingers used to play chords   O: Optional Note
Barre Line: One finger holds down multiple strings   R: Root Note
Unmarked strings: Play open   X: Don't play string    B: Bass Note
Aadd2 A7 Amaj7 Amaj7 Dmaj7 D Major D/A D/E E7 E7sus4/D

Preferred Chords for finger-picking styles:

C#m7 C#7 F#m F#m F#m/E F#7 Bm7 Bm7/A Aadd9

If full Barre Chords are preferred:

C#m7 C#7 F#m F#m/E F#m F#7 F#7sus Bm7 Bm7/A
Aadd2 A7 Amaj7 Amaj7 Dmaj7 D Major D/A D/E E7 E7sus4/D

Preferred Chords for finger-picking styles:

C#m7 C#7 F#m F#m F#m/E F#7 Bm7 Bm7/A Aadd9

If full Barre Chords are preferred:

C#m7 C#7 F#m F#m/E F#m F#7 F#7sus Bm7 Bm7/A

The Way We Were

Song Key is highlighted - Transpose to any other key
             Aadd2   A   Amaj7   Dmaj7      F#m     F#m/E   Dmaj7   C#7
Intro: 4/4 |       |    -      |      mm | mm    -        |       -     |

   F#m     F#m/E   Dmaj7    E7   Amaj7     F#m7   Bm7    E7
|       -        |       -     |        -       |     -     |

    Aadd2  Amaj7   Dmaj7                           F#m      F#m/E
 1. Mem' - ries         Light the cor-ners of my | mind  -        |
Dmaj7       C#m7    C#7     F#m    F#m/E 
    Mis-ty  wa-ter  col-or  mem  - 'ries
Dmaj7      E7       Amaj7     F#m7   Bm7     E7 
    Of the way we | were   -       |      -      |

               Aadd2 Amaj7   Dmaj7                            F#m     F#m/E 
 2. Scat-tered pic - tures        Of the smiles we left be -| hind -        |
Dmaj7         C#m7    C#7      F#m   F#m/E
    Smiles we gave to one an - oth - er
Dmaj7       E7     Amaj7      A7
    For the way we were   |        |

        Dmaj7                        Bm7
Bridge: Can it be that it was all so sim-ple then?
        C#m7                             F#7sus    F#7
        Or has time re-writ-ten ev-'ry | line?  -      |
        Bm7           Bm7/A                 E7sus     E7
        If we had the chance to do it all | a-gain -     |  
                 Amaj7          D/E         E7
        Tell me, would we?    | Could  we?      |

    Aadd2  Amaj7   Dmaj7                         F#m     F#m/E 
 3. Mem - 'ries         May be beau-ti-ful and | yet  -        |
Dmaj7          C#m7     C#7     F#m   F#m/E
    What's too pain-ful to re - mem - ber
Dmaj7          C#7             F#m7   F#m/E 
    We sim-ply choose to for-| get  -        |
Dmaj7           C#m7       Dmaj7           C#m7
    So it's the laugh-ter       We will re-mem-ber
Dmaj7                  C#m7
    When-ev-er we re - mem - ber...
Bm7      E7        Aadd2      Amaj7
    The  way  we | were... -         |     
Dmaj7          Aadd2    Aadd2   Amaj7   D/A   F#m   Dmaj7   E7sus/D   Aadd9  
    The way we were...|       -       |     |     |       -         |   𝄑    |


  • The song may seem a little difficult at first but once you spend some time learning the chords, you will find it flows smoothly and is a fairly easy song to play.
  • Make sure you spend time learning the blue chords which are an alternative to standard barre chords and work very well with finger-picking styles.
  • The voicings on some of these chords are beautiful, especially the F#7 (xx4320) and the transition from C#m7 (xx2424) to C#7 (xx3424).
  • An easy way to play C#m7 and C#7 especially with the transition between the two, is simply use a mini-barre over the top 4 strings on the 2nd fret, then add the other notes according to the charts - easier on the hands too - especially C#m7.
  • V2 → Bridge | A7 - Amaj7 | The A7 chord (x02223) used here is not your typical A7 (x02020), but it sounds much better in this arrangement. It's followed by the Amaj7 chord (x02224),and it creates a dramatic lift from the Verse leading into the Bridge section.
  • You may prefer to use the other Amaj7 (x02120) in othr parts of the song.
  • This song is a great practice number for versatility in chord positions. Many guitarists stick to the same old way of playing certain chords. Here, you will find alternative voicings of typical chords which sound great in certain song structures.
  • You don't have to play the Bm7/A which is simply a Bm7 chord leading with the bass note shown after the forward slash. It adds a little more interest to the song especially if you are playing solo.
  • Don't be 'put off' if you are a beginner, however if it is too difficult, an easier key would be G Major where you would be playing all open chords which are easier and more familiar to you. Simply use the Transposer to change to your preferred key.
  • If you transpose to G Major and want to play along with the video, you will need to place a capo on the 2nd fret.
  • If you are playing with the video, follow the orchestra. The chord changes would normally occur with the lyrics as written above, but Barbra sings in a style which is unique... some notes before the beat, others after the beat etc. The safest way is to follow the music and keep count until you become familiar with the song... good luck.
Back to 70's Music Back To Top
Contact Me

A seasoned performer joyfully playing the guitar