People Get Ready
|"People Get Ready"|
|Single by The Impressions|
|from the album People Get Ready|
|The Impressions singles chronology|
"People Get Ready" is a 1965 single by the Impressions, and the title track from the People Get Ready album. The single is the group's best-known hit, reaching number-three on the Billboard R&B Chart and number 14 on the Billboard Pop Chart. The gospel-influenced track was a Curtis Mayfield composition that displayed the growing sense of social and political awareness in his writing.
Rolling Stone magazine named "People Get Ready" the 24th greatest song of all time and also placed it at number 20 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. The song was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. "People Get Ready" was named as one of the Top 10 Best Songs Of All Time by Mojo music magazine, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2016, the song was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its "cultural, historic, or artistic significance."
The gospel-influenced track was written and composed by Curtis Mayfield, who displayed the growing sense of social and political awareness in his writing. Mayfield said, "That was taken from my church or from the upbringing of messages from the church. Like there's no hiding place and get on board, and images of that sort. I must have been in a very deep mood of that type of religious inspiration when I wrote that song." The song is the first Impressions hit to feature Mayfield's guitar in the break. People Get Ready is in a long tradition of Black American freedom songs to use the train imagery - other examples are Wade in the Water, The Gospel Train, and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. The imagery comes from the Underground Railroad, not a real train but an escape route North to freedom for escaped slaves in America pre-civil war, with characters such as Harriet Tubman going back time and again to the South to show people the route of the "railroad".
Reception and legacy
Rolling Stone magazine named "People Get Ready" the 24th greatest song of all time and also placed it at number 20 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. The song was included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. "People Get Ready" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998, and selected as one of the ten best songs of all time by a panel of 20 songwriters, including Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Hal David, for Britain's Mojo music magazine in 2000.
The song became a classic that has influenced a wide range of artists from white country singers through British, American and Australian pop and rock artists to reggae star Bob Marley. Bob Dylan recorded it twice; first in 1967 during the sessions that later became The Basement Tapes, and again in 1989 for the soundtrack to Flashback. One of the most well-known covers is by Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart in 1985, which gained considerable airplay on album rock and classic rock radio stations and had a popular video on MTV. The interpretation featured Beck's guitar carrying the melody with Stewart's signature raspy vocal set against that. It also represented a brief reunion between the two 1960s band mates, and they would perform the song again during intermittent one-off reunions in later years. Another famous version by Stewart was recorded in 1993 where he was joined by Ronnie Wood for a session of MTV Unplugged. This version appears on the album Unplugged...and Seated.
Canadian country music singer Michelle Wright covered the song on the 1997 compilation album Peace in the Valley. Bruce Springsteen used "People Get Ready" as the basis for his 1999/2000 songs "Land of Hope and Dreams" and "My City of Ruins" and sometimes interpolates or uses as a coda "People Get Ready" in performances of them. John Mayer's 2006 song "Waiting on the World to Change" is also based on "People Get Ready". Greg Lake (King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer) included it in tribute to its influence on his career on his "Songs of a Lifetime" solo tour. Singer Eva Cassidy covered the song in her 1996 album titled, "Live At Blues Alley" (Blix Street Records).
Earlier recordings include those by The Chambers Brothers on their 1967 album The Time Has Come, Vanilla Fudge on their 1967 self-titled album, Petula Clark on her 1970 album "Memphis" produced by Chips Moman, Aretha Franklin on her 1968 album Lady Soul, George Benson on his 1969 album Goodies, and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on their 1973 album Sonny & Brownie. Boogie-woogie pianist Michael Kaeshammer and his band recorded an instrumental version of this song, which appears on his 2011 album Kaeshammer. Human Nature released "People Get Ready" as the 5th and final single from their Telling Everybody album in 1997. It reached number 35 on the Australian chart.
- Robert Pruter, Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions, The Anthology, 1961-1977, liner notes
- Gregg, Jonathan (12 July 2000). "So, What Are Your Ten Best Songs of All Time?". time.com.
- "Song Inspired by March on Washington Carries Enduring Message". npr.org.
- Marquse, Mike (4 Jan 2011). Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the 1960s; Chimes of Freedom. Seven Stories Press. p. 123.
- Discogs - Jeff Beck And Rod Stewart – People Get Ready
- "Reviews". Billboard: 83. 22 Feb 1997.
- "Book Human Nature - National Feature Acts - National Names". BBC Entertainment. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
- Hung, Steffen. "Human Nature - People Get Ready". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2014-07-13.