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
  • 6:56
  • 3:35 (Your Move)
  • 3:21 (All Good People)
"Your Move"
Your Move cover.jpg
Single by Yes
from the album The Yes Album
Released5 March 1971
Recorded1970 (1970)
StudioAdvision, London
Songwriter(s)Jon Anderson
Yes singles chronology
"Sweet Dreams"
"Your Move"

"I've Seen All Good People" is a song performed by the English progressive rock band Yes. Written by Yes members Jon Anderson and Chris Squire, it was first included on 1971's The Yes Album and has appeared on several later albums. As with many progressive rock songs, the track consists of multiple distinct movements spliced together to form a cohesive longer work. The first movement, titled "Your Move", was released as a single. It became a top 40 hit in the United States, which helped the group build momentum.[3] Later, album-oriented rock stations would frequently play the entire nearly seven-minute track, including both "Your Move" and the second movement titled "All Good People"; this version remains a staple of classic rock stations to today.

The tune uses chess as a lyrical metaphor for navigating interpersonal relationships,[4] and contains several allusions to the music of John Lennon. It has received positive reviews from several critics and has been considered one of Yes's best-known songs, with AllMusic's Mike DeGagne stating that "the harmonies are resilient from start to finish" and that the track "still stands as one of their most appealing" works.[3] Music critic Robert Christgau has also singled it out for praise.[5]


The first part of the song, "Your Move", alludes to the game of chess as a metaphor for male–female relationships.[4] 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".

A reference to John Lennon's work is in the lyric "send that instant karma to me", with "Instant Karma!" being a single released by Lennon in 1970. Also, the sentence "All we are saying is give peace a chance" is heard in the organ part before switching to "All Good People", referencing another Lennon song, "Give Peace a Chance". More generally, Anderson has stated that the line "'cause it's time, it's 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."[6] Just before the three-minute mark of the song, at the final part of "Your Move", the chorus of Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" can be heard in the background.[7][8][9][10]

Composition and legacy[edit]

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 Portuguese 12-string guitar. Howe also sometimes plays the solo on a standard acoustic guitar. As the 12-string 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 country 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.[6]

Village Voice critic Robert Christgau called the song a "great cut", being one in which he thought Yes' "arty eclecticism comes together."[5]

The song has been included on several compilation albums, such as 1981's Classic Yes and 2004's The Ultimate Yes, since its initial release on The Yes Album in 1971. Having been performed many times during Yes' tours, a live version was most recently released on the Live at Montreux 2003 album, which was distributed through Eagle Records.[3]



Guest musician


  1. ^ "The Best Song on Every Yes Album". Ultimate Classic Rock. December 19, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  2. ^ Smith, Bradley (1997). The Billboard Guide to Progressive Music. Billboard Books. p. 249. ISBN 9780823076659. The 7-minute 'I've Seen All Good People' is a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young-like hippie folk rock anthem led by acoustic guitar.
  3. ^ a b c DeGagne, Mike. "I've Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People - Yes | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Martin, B. (1998). Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock, 1968-1978. Open Court Publishing. p. 200. ISBN 9780812693683.
  5. ^ a b Christgau, R. "Yes". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
  6. ^ a b Yes (1996). Yesstories: Yes In Their Own Words. MacMillan. ISBN 9780312144531.
  7. ^ John Anderson, Former Yes Frontman, Pays Tribute to John Lennon in California
  8. ^ Womack, Kenneth (2014). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four [2 volumes]: Everything Fab Four. ABC-CLIO. p. 325. ISBN 978-0-313-39172-9.
  9. ^ Jr., Bill Martin (2015). Music of Yes: Structure and Vision in Progressive Rock. Open Court Publishing Company. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-8126-9945-6.
  10. ^ Shea, Stuart; Rodriguez, Robert (2007). Fab Four FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Beatles ... and More!. Hal Leonard. p. 320. ISBN 978-1-4234-2138-2.
  11. ^ Hurwitz, Matt (January 5, 2018). "Classic Tracks: Yes". Mix Online. Retrieved March 24, 2019.

External links[edit]