|Released 1965 (1965)|
Label Arhoolie (no. 304)
|Genre Hill country blues|
Producer(s) Chris Strachwitz
|Recorded Berkeley, California, July 5, 1965|
"You Gotta Move" is a traditional African-American spiritual song. The lyrics carry the Christian message that regardless of one's situation in life, it is God who determines one's ultimate fate. Beginning around 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".
In 1965, Mississippi bluesman Fred McDowell recorded it as a slow, slide guitar Hill country blues solo piece. His rendition inspired many subsequent recordings, including a popular electric-combo version by English rock group the Rolling Stones. The band performed and recorded the song in 1969, and they released it in 1971 on the Sticky Fingers album. The song generally follows an eight-bar blues arrangement and has been compared to "Sitting on Top of the World".
The Two Gospel Keys recorded "You've Got to Move" in 1948. They performed it as an uptempo gospel song. Similar renditions followed by Elder Charles D. Beck (1949), Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1950), the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama (1953), and the Hightower Brothers (1956). The Reverend Gary Davis recorded the song in 1962. It includes a more ominous verse:
In 1964, soul singer Sam Cooke recast the song with lyrics about a broken relationship for his 1963 album Night Beat. When Mississippi Fred McDowell later recorded it in 1965, he used lyrics closer to Davis' 1962 rendition. However, his version has a haunting slide guitar line that doubles the vocal. A verse from the song is inscribed on his headstone:
The Rolling 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. It was later included on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers. Mick Jagger sings the song in a Southern black dialect with electric slide guitar accompaniment that follows McDowell's. Two different concert versions are found as bonus tracks on the 1969 tour's Get Yer Ya-Yas Out! and on 1977's Love You Live. The latter features Billy Preston, who plays on Sam Cooke's version. The albums attribute the song to McDowell.
In 1990, Glenn Kaiser and Darrell Mansfield included the song on the album Trimmed and Burnin'. Aerosmith covered the Rolling Stones' version for their blues cover album Honkin' on Bobo in 2004. They perform the song at a considerably faster rock tempo and also named the coinciding DVD, You Gotta Move, after the song. Alternative country artist Parker Millsap covered the song on his 2016 album The Very Last Day.