I've Seen All Good People

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"I've Seen All Good People"
Song by Yes from the album The Yes Album
Released 1971
Recorded 1970
Genre Progressive rock
  • 6:56 (Whole Song)
  • 3:35 (Your Move)
  • 3:21 (All Good People)
Label Atlantic
Writer Jon Anderson/Chris Squire
Producer Yes and Eddy Offord
The Yes Album track listing
"Starship Trooper"
"I've Seen All Good People"
"A Venture"
"Your Move"
Single by Yes
from the album The Yes Album
B-side "Clap" (US)
"Starship Trooper: Life Seeker" (UK)
Released 5 March 1971
Recorded 1970 at Advision Studios
Genre Progressive rock, folk rock
Length 3:00
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Jon Anderson
Yes singles chronology
"Sweet Dreams"
"Your Move"

"I've Seen All Good People" is a song performed by the band Yes and written by Jon Anderson and Chris Squire. It is included on 1971's The Yes Album. The first part of the song, "Your Move", was released as a single.


The first part of the song, "Your Move", uses various allusions to the game of chess as a metaphor for male/female relationships.[1] Examples include the phrases "move me onto any black square", "make the white queen run so fast", and "the goal is for us all to capture only one". It can be attributed to Lewis Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass. In looking glass land if you want to be "satisfied" and "on your way" you must walk backwards on life's chessboard to move ahead. That is "don't surround yourself with yourself" is a chess analogy. This is opposite of what we were taught: fight with might and force to get ahead. Just before the three minute mark of the song, at the final part of "Your Move", the chorus of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" can be heard in the background.[2] Another Lennon reference can be heard in the lyric "send that instant karma to me", "Instant Karma!" being one of the songs he wrote. Anderson has stated that the line "Cause his time is time in time with your time" was an attempt to say that he would "do anything that is required of me to reach God" and that he wants the listener to feel "in tune and in time with God."[3]


In the studio recording on The Yes Album, the song opens with Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Steve Howe singing the sentence "I've seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied I'm on my way" twice a cappella, in three-part harmony. This is followed by a solo intro by Steve Howe on a 12-string laúd.[4] As the laúd begins a repeated four-bar phrase, it is joined by bass drum as Anderson resumes singing the lyrics, solo and in three-part harmony. Dual recorders enter on the third verse. Finally, a Hammond organ joins them, playing the same chords as the laúd until the first part of the song ends on a loudly sustained and unresolved organ chord.

The second part, "All Good People", consists of many repetitions of the sentence "I've seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied I'm on my way" sung to the same melody as before, but over a driving rock accompaniment, ending in a powerful vocal harmony and organ phrase which begins on a chord progression of E, D, C, G, then A. Each repetition of the verse is one whole step lower than the previous as the song fades out. Anderson has stated that he wanted to have the song develop quietly but then open up into a big grandiose, church organ sound.[3]

Village Voice critic Robert Christgau calls the song a "great cut," where all of Yes' "arty eclecticism comes together."[5]


  • Yes themselves chose some elements of "Your Move" to be re-done and reworked for their song "Nine Voices (Longwalker)" from The Ladder album.
  • "Your Move" was covered by the New York-based folk duo Amy Fradon and Leslie Ritter, and featured on their album "Take Me Home". The song became a hit on Billboard's Adult Contemporary singles charts in 1994.
  • "Your Move" was covered by the band Shaw Blades and by actor Robert Downey, Jr. on his album The Futurist which also has Jon Anderson performing backing vocals.
  • The opening lyrics are sung by Sarah Silverman on her DVD, Jesus Is Magic at the end of her "Amazing Grace" performance. Off stage are 2 other singers, one of which is the brother of Jimmy Kimmel, her boyfriend at the time. On stage, Sarah appeared to be singing from various body parts via strategically held/placed microphones. She comments in the DVD's extras that the use of these 2 lines was the single greatest expense of the entire movie ($15,000).
  • The song is covered by the American rock band Ra on their album Black Sheep under the name "Seen All Good People".
  • The song is covered by Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs on their album Under the Covers, Vol. 2
  • The first portion of the song, "Your Move" is covered instrumentally by Yes guitarist Steve Howe on his album Natural Timbre.
  • The song is covered by Lili Haydn during the final scene of the 2011 Documentary, "Zeitgeist: Moving Forward"
  • Your Move was covered by American rock artist Razworks in 2014.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The song is featured in the 1995 movie Nixon.
  • The song was featured in the 1999 movie Dick.
  • The song is included in the 2000 movie Almost Famous and is also on the soundtrack album.
  • The final harmony plays in the 2002 movie Mr. Deeds, as Longfellow Deeds first arrives via helicopter into New York City.
  • The song was used in 2009 on the TV series Fringe, season 2, episode 4, "Momentum Deferred".
  • The song is used in a 2009 TV commercial for Chase's INK program for small businesses.
  • The song is featured in the 2011 biographical documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World
  • The song was used in 2012 on the TV series Alphas, season 2, episode 4, "When Push Comes to Shove".
  • The song was used in 2014 on the TV series C.S.I., season 14, episode 16, "Killer Moves".


  1. ^ Martin, B. (1998). Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock, 1968-1978. Open Court Publishing. p. 200. ISBN 9780812693683. 
  2. ^ John Anderson, Former Yes Frontman, Pays Tribute to John Lennon in California
  3. ^ a b Yes (1996). Yesstories: Yes In Their Own Words. MacMillan. ISBN 9780312144531. 
  4. ^ Howe calls it a "Portuguese guitar" because his sister bought it for him in Portugal. Archived Questions, p. 10, at SteveHowe.com. Howe also sometimes plays the solo on a standard acoustic guitar.
  5. ^ Christgau, R.. "Yes". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 

External Links[edit]

Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics