I've Seen All Good People

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"I've Seen All Good People"
Song by Yes
from the album The Yes Album
Released 1971
Recorded 1970
Genre Progressive rock, folk rock
  • 6:56
  • 3:35 (Your Move)
  • 3:21 (All Good People)
Label Atlantic
Songwriter(s) Jon Anderson/Chris Squire
Producer(s) Yes and Eddy Offord
The Yes Album track listing
Side one
  1. "Yours Is No Disgrace"
  2. "Clap"
  3. "Starship Trooper"
Side two
  1. "I've Seen All Good People"
  2. "A Venture"
  3. "Perpetual Change"
"Your Move"
Your Move cover.jpg
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
Length 3:00
Label Atlantic
Songwriter(s) Jon Anderson
Yes singles chronology
"Sweet Dreams"
"Your Move"

"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. The first part of the song, titled "Your Move", was released as a single. It became a top 40 hit in the United States, which helped the group build momentum.[1]

The tune uses chess as a lyrical metaphor for navigating interpersonal relationships.[2] 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.[1] Music critic Robert Christgau has also singled it out for praise.[3]


The first part of the song, "Your Move", alludes to the game of chess as a metaphor for male–female relationships.[2] 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."[4] 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.[5][6][7][8]

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.[4]

Village Voice critic Robert Christgau called the song a "great cut", being one in which he thought Yes' "arty eclecticism comes together."[3]

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.[1]


  • The duo of Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs covered the song on their album Under the Covers, Vol. 2, their 2009 version featuring Steve Howe as a guest musician (with Howe re-creating his twelve-string guitar part).[9]
  • "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 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.



  1. ^ a b c http://www.allmusic.com/song/ive-seen-all-good-people-your-move-all-good-people-mt0012256151
  2. ^ a b Martin, B. (1998). Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock, 1968-1978. Open Court Publishing. p. 200. ISBN 9780812693683. 
  3. ^ a b Christgau, R. "Yes". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  4. ^ a b Yes (1996). Yesstories: Yes In Their Own Words. MacMillan. ISBN 9780312144531. 
  5. ^ John Anderson, Former Yes Frontman, Pays Tribute to John Lennon in California
  6. ^ Womack, Kenneth (2014). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four [2 volumes]: Everything Fab Four. ABC-CLIO. p. 325. ISBN 978-0-313-39172-9. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/268252/susanna-hoffs-matthew-sweet-go-under-the-covers-again
  10. ^ https://www.mixonline.com/recording/ct-yes-goodpeople-roundabout

External links[edit]