You Gotta Move (song)

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"You Got to Move"
Song by Mississippi Fred McDowell
from the album You Gotta Move
Released1965 (1965)
RecordedBerkeley, California, July 5, 1965
GenreHill country blues
Producer(s)Chris Strachwitz

"You Gotta Move" is a traditional African-American spiritual song. Since the 1940s, the song has been recorded by a variety of gospel musicians, usually as "You Got to Move" or "You've Got to Move".

Early gospel songs[edit]

The Two Gospel Keys recorded "You've Got to Move", which was released on a 78-rpm record in 1948.[1] Emma Daniels (vocals and guitar) and Mother Sally Jones (vocals and tambourine) comprised the gospel music duo.[2] Similar renditions followed by Elder Charles D. Beck (1949),[3] Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1950),[4] the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama (1953),[5] and the Hightower Brothers (1956).[6]

Reverend Gary Davis recorded the song in 1962;[7] his lyrics include:[8]

You may run, can't be caught
You may hide, can't be found
Brother when God gets ready, you got to move

Later renditions[edit]

In 1964, soul singer Sam Cooke recast the song with lyrics about a broken relationship for his 1963 album Night Beat.[9] In 1965, Mississippi bluesman Fred McDowell recorded it as a slow, slide guitar hill country blues solo piece. The song generally follows a seven-bar or an eight-bar blues arrangement and has been compared to "Sitting on Top of the World".[10] McDowell uses lyrics closer to Davis' 1962 rendition,[10] but adds a haunting slide guitar line that doubles the vocal.[11] A verse from the song is inscribed on his headstone:[12]

You may be high, you may be low
You may be rich child, you may be poor
But when the Lord gets ready, you got to move

American rock band Aerosmith also covered the song for their 2004 cover album Honkin' on Bobo.

The Rolling Stones version[edit]

"You Gotta Move"
Song by the Rolling Stones
from the album Sticky Fingers
ReleasedApril 23, 1971 (1971-04-23)
GenreBlues rock
LabelRolling Stones
Producer(s)Jimmy Miller

McDowell's rendition inspired many subsequent recordings, including a version by the Rolling Stones. The Stones regularly performed "You Gotta Move" during their 1969 US tour. They recorded a version at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama in December 1969, with later recording in England in 1970. It was later included on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers, which credited McDowell as the songwriter.

Mick Jagger sings the song in a Southern black dialect, with Mick Taylor's electric slide-guitar accompaniment.[11] In an interview originally published in Guitar Player, Taylor said he used a Fender Telecaster for the slide part and a 12-string guitar. He explained that Keith Richards played a National guitar, though Taylor could not remember which one Richards used – the all-steel one or the "really great, beautiful guitar ... made of wood and metal."[13]

Two different concert versions are included as bonus tracks on the group's Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! (1970) album and another on Love You Live (1977). The latter features Billy Preston, who had played when he was 16 years old on Sam Cooke's 1963 version.[14][note 1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sam Cooke's Night Beat album also contains an updated "Little Red Rooster" along with "You Got to Move", both songs which the Rolling Stones later recorded closer to the original/blues versions.


  1. ^ "Advance Record releases". Billboard. Vol. 60 no. 2. January 10, 1948. p. 29. ISSN 0006-2510.
  2. ^ Wade, Stephen (2012). The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0252094002.
  3. ^ "Advance Record Releases". Billboard. Vol. 61 no. 20. May 14, 1949. p. 127. ISSN 0006-2510.
  4. ^ "Sister Rosetta Tharpe". Coda. Vol. 7 no. 5–12. 1966. p. 9. ISSN 0010-017X.
  5. ^ Nations, Opal. "Oh Lord, Stand by Me". AllMusic. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  6. ^ "The Hightower Brothers". Blues Unlimited. Vol. 142–146. 1982. p. 37.
  7. ^ "Singles Reviews". Billboard. Vol. 74 no. 42. October 20, 1962. p. 44. ISSN 0006-2510.
  8. ^ Phillips, Bill (1974). "Piedmont Country Blues". America's Best Music. The Institute for Southern Studies. p. 59.
  9. ^ In 1934, Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy recorded the two-part "You Got to Move (You Ain't Got to Move)" which deals with a broken relationship.
  10. ^ a b Sing Out (1969). "You Got to Move". Sing Out!. p. 12. ISSN 0037-5624.
  11. ^ a b Koda, Cub. "Mississippi Fred McDowell – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  12. ^ Cheseborough, Steve (2004). Blues Traveling: The Holy Sites of Delta Blues. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. p. 216. ISBN 978-1578066506.
  13. ^ Obrecht, Jas (October 16, 2011) [June 22, 1979]. "Mick Taylor on the Rolling Stones, John Mayall, and Playing Guitar: interview". Jas Obrecht Music Archive. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  14. ^ The RCA Albums Collection (liner notes). Sam Cooke. US: RCA Records/Legacy Recordings. 2011. 88697898702.CS1 maint: others (link)