The song is an attack on the capitalist politics and social order that dominated the 1980s. Harrison variously bemoans people’s obsessions with the stock market, land speculators, and expensive property, before closing the song with a now-familiar plea to focus instead on spiritual matters.
Dow Jones, and all that sort of money business, and Nikkei Dow, and the FTSE index. They’re the people that’s ruining the planet, you know – buying, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy. Sell, sell, sell, sell, sell. You know? Really. And this madness that like Reagan and Thatcher together created, where they say, ‘Everybody is much better off now.’ Everybody’s more in debt, everybody’s got two cars, there’s more concrete… You know, we’re having to sacrifice the planet for the motorcar. Madness. That’s why I can’t practice the guitar anymore. I’m so crazy with what they’ve done to our planet.
George Harrison On George Harrison, Ashley Kahn
‘That’s The Way It Goes’ was the only post-1973 song performed at the November 2002 Concert For George tribute at London’s Royal Albert Hall, where it was sung by Joe Brown.