You Gotta Move (song)

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"You Got to Move"
Song by The Blind Boys of Alabama
Released 1954
Recorded November 19, 1953 [1] by John Cohen; early 1953 by Reverend Gary Davis[citation needed]
Genre Spiritual
Length 2:31
Label Specialty Records
Writer Traditional
Producer Art Rupe
"You Got to Move"
Song by Mississippi Fred McDowell
Released 1965
Recorded May 2, 1965, Como, MS
Genre Spiritual
Label Arhoolie F 1027
Writer Traditional
"You Gotta Move"
Song by The Rolling Stones from the album Sticky Fingers
Released 23 April 1971
Recorded December 1969
Genre Spiritual
Length 2:34
Label Rolling Stones/Virgin
Writer attributed to Fred McDowell
Producer Jimmy Miller
"You Gotta Move"
Song by Aerosmith from the album Honkin' on Bobo
Released 2004
Genre Blues rock, hard rock, blues
Length 5:30
Label Columbia Records
Writer attributed to Fred McDowell, Rev. Gary Davis
Producer Jack Douglas, Marti Frederiksen, Joe Perry, Steven Tyler
Honkin' on Bobo track listing
"Back Back Train"
"You Gotta Move"
"The Grind"

"You Got to Move" is a traditional negro spiritual song about death coming soon, and slaves fleeing the Southern United States and/or being freed by death/reaching the promised land/paradise. As ever in such slave songs, double-entendres are difficult to figure out. A spirited version of it was recorded by the Blind Boys of Alabama on September 28, 1953. It was also recorded in 1965, twelve years later, by Mississippi Fred McDowell. British rock and roll band The Rolling Stones more famously recorded it as "You Gotta Move" and featured it on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers. They attributed the song to McDowell.

The McDowell version has a haunting and raw electric blues-riff copied by the Stones. The lyrics have a clear touch of spiritual music, suggesting that death was unavoidable and time to 'move' to the promised land was coming. Mick Jagger sang it in a Southern black dialect.

The Rolling Stones also released a concert version on Love You Live in 1977, featuring Billy Preston, who had played on Sam Cooke's version on the 1963 album Night Beat (which has different lyrics from older versions).


Aerosmith version[edit]

Aerosmith covered this song, on their blues cover album Honkin' on Bobo in 2004. It was performed at a considerably faster rock tempo. They also named the coinciding DVD, You Gotta Move after the song. The Aerosmith cover was featured in the film "Barnyard" and was also the theme for the WWE Pay-Per-View "Summerslam" in 2009.


  1. ^ smithsonian folkways 2003

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