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I've Seen All Good People

by

Yes



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

The song is divided into two sections, which are listed on the album as:
a. Your Move (running 3:35)
b. All Good People (running 3:21)

"Your Move" was written by lead singer Jon Anderson, "All Good People" by bassist Chris Squire.

In America, a single version of the song was released as "Your Move (I've Seen All Good People)," which reached #40 in December, 1971. This version credits lead singer Jon Anderson as the sole composer, and was the first chart hit for Yes. When we asked Anderson what he thought of the cut-down release, he replied, "A bit disjointed." Radio stations typically play the full 6:56 version of the song.
Lead singer/lyricist Jon Anderson says that on the "Your Move" portion of this song, he was using the game of chess in this song as a metaphor for life's spiritual challenges. "Life is a game of strategically placed situations presented to you, and you have to learn to live with them and work with them," he said. "Doors are open and sometimes they're closed. It's the idea that we are surrounded by a spirit or god or energy is in time with our understanding of who we are.
This is an anti-war song. The term "I've seen all good people" is ALL the people, including the so-called enemy.

The line, "Don't surround yourself with yourself" refers to self-righteous behavior; "Move on back two squares" is a chess term meaning to retreat and rethink your position. The lyrics also refer to the queen, which is the most versatile and powerful chess piece. It talks about how news is captured for use by the queen, which uses forces to take control and manipulate troops against the enemy. War is like a game of chess.
With the line, "Send an instant comment to me, initial it with loving care," this song references "Instant Karma," which was a song recorded by John Lennon a year earlier. Lennon was a huge influence on Yes, who covered The Beatles song "Every Little Thing" on their first album.
The lines: "Just remember that the gold is for us to capture all we want, anywhere, Yea, yea, yea" refers to the rich and powerful victimizing the weak and poor. The US was taken off the Gold standard by Richard Nixon August 15, 1971 the same year this was released. (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington)
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Comments (47):

How did they send "instant comments" in 1971? "send an instant comment to me, initial it with loving care"
- Kelroy, sidney, NE
Are there going to be any comments about this song being used in so many Wal-Mart commercial??
- Andrew, Ringgold, GA
What does that mean "I've seen all good people turn their heads away so satisfied I'm on my way." I have no clue, yet repeat it twice and then some beautiful guitar playing precedes the lyrics sung in such a clear, beautiful voice: "Take a straight and stronger course to the corner of your life." Then add a certain beat to it all, and this was always one of my favorite songs to hear on the radio in the 70's when I was a teenager. Here it is 2011, heard it tonight and it still sounds just as good. Lyrics make not much sense to me, but it's such a different sounding song from any other that you hear, in a very good way. There's something about the pace of the song, not fast, or slow, or screaming in your face. Just right.
- Camille, Toronto, OH
Andy from Tulsa, there is a line that goes "Send an Instant Karma to me. Initial it with loving care".
- Jim, Morgantown, WV
I think this song is about not being self-focused and focusing on those around you. I have listened to the song hundreds of times and never made any connection to it being anti-war. "The Yes Album" (1971) is one of the great Art Rock albums of all time that I throw in with "Genesis-Trick of the Tale" (1976), "Sumertramp-Crime of the Century" (1974), "ELO-Eldorado" (1974), and Pink Floyd-Dark Side of the Moon" (1973).
- Steve, Trabuco Canyon, CA
Hey Dudes on this song they sing in the background: "Give Peace a Chance not Instant Karma"!
I just got giged on your material here @KJSR-Tulsa
- ANDY BARBER, TULSA, OK
I think the song is about love...dont surround yourself with yourself
- Debra, collegdale, TN
He has seen All Good people do what? = Turn their heads. When? Each day. Therefore? = So, satisfied, he is on his way. I think this means he is taking a straight and stronger course to the "corner of" his life to avoid having his head turned by extraneous things like false goals and temptations = white Queen. The "white Queen" will never catch you if you make her run so fast she can't keep up. I think this means you lead, let your fantasies follow and fit into your actual life, not lead it and perhaps ruin it. The squares are the rank and file of everyday reality and normality. Maybe he just doesn't want to be a freak anymore. He certainly wants to escape the prospect of having his head turned by temptation and being taken off his true path (the "straight and stronger course"). As for the John Lennon references in the later live versions (they don't exist on the original studio version) does it not occur to some of you that Alan Whyte was the drummer in the Plastic Ono Band? There is nothing at all remotely connected to Vietnamn, or Nixon or the Gold Standard in these lyrics.
- Wayne, Sydney, Australia
I can't believe no one else knows this; listen to th lyrics again -- don't read the ones posted here; they're completely wrong. But do read the comment by Dave from Scottsdale, he has it almost right. The song is not ABOUT anything. That's not how Yes did things in the good old days. However the song was inspired by the break-up of the Beatles. Who's the white queen? Linda and/or Yoko. Both were factors in the break-up. Listen more closely: "Don't surround yourself with yourself, move on back to squares." Not TWO squares; TO squares. Is it also a clever chess metaphore? Yes, but at that time, Paul had just released his first solo album, on which he played all the instruments. The line "Move on back to squares" encourages him to move back to the quartet of the Beatles. "Send an instant Karma to me" -- obvious, encourages John to try and make up. "Initial it with loving care" is another Beatles lyric referrance. "Give peace a chance"? Also obvious; in their own words: can't you guys (John and Paul) just get along?
- Daniel, Minneapolus, MN
He had matured and tired of the crazy rock and roll groupie druggy life, He was tired about being a Roundabout (he speaks of this in Roundabout)He no longer wants do deceive his Lady
(Queen Reference), He knows its time to settle down and not make the Queen run so fast. Rock life and rock heroes can easily have new women in every concert town.
- jo, so tx, TX
Rated 0 Rock n roll life is fastpaced & crazy (but its time to grow up), dont be self satisfied & selfish (shallow), your life should have a better purpose, Life and people are not games to be used (chess ref.)a queen is your partner, now is time to share time & love with one or those you love, don't be selfish. (Don't surround yourslf with yourself). Remember make best of life & time, move on back 2 Squares = reacess your life priorities, your love in life with others is your Karma ( a nod to John Lennon's "Instant Karma", Yes were Beatle admirers were influenced by them, send an Instant Karma =is asking for same love he gives.(you can hear John Lenon song Instant Karma & Give Peace a Chance in original version in background) Didi didi didi didi didi dada (sending instant Karma like sending message in Western Union (60's song(By Jay & The Americans Didi didi didi, didi didi didi didi.)
- jo, so tx, TX
Perfect usage in Almost Famous, I wish I was alive for the true golden age of music and not this dirge that continues on today.
- Rob, Wilkes-Barre, PA
Instant COMMENT?? I dunno about you youngsters, I suppose you'll be hearing "text message" in some Yes song pretty soon ;-)
By the way, Yes covered several Beatles songs early on.
- Liz, Wilton, NH
The song does *not* reference John Lennon's "Instant Karma." The correct lyric throughout is, "Send an instant *comment* to me."
- Bob, Oakland, CA
This song is also used near the end of "Dick" (1999) when President Nixon was finally brought down by two teeny boppers who had accidently discovered the Watergate caper. It's a delightful movie, absurd but very funny, particularly if you're old enough to remember the 70s, as I am. This song was one of my favorites back then. Glad to see the lyrics discussed here.
- Margaret Moore, Portland, OR
brian from wilmington delaware you are right this song is simply about a chess game! nothing more. andy,boston mass
- andy, boston, MA
Saw Yes in '74 in LA, great show. Saw 'em again in St. Louis in about 2004, and they can still do it...I was afraid they'd have arthritis by now, but Howe did "The Ancient" flawlessly. And I maintain that it's "instant comment" despite what the website says. The guitar book I trust more as it came out at the time, plus I think Anderson knows his lyrics are the loopiest anywhere, and goes with "karma" now just so he doesn't get accused of actually having written something that makes sense!
- Bob, St. Louis, MO
WHAT WAR ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT IN THIS SONG
- sum, WASHINGTON, DC
Posted 10/20/2007. I'm not going to pretend that I can actually interpret the intent of the lyrics to this or many other Yes / Jon Anderson songs. Their lyrical style is so unusual & unclear, who can really say, but I've always enjoyed the spirituality in them. There is an obvious chess metaphor on this song, but exactly what it's about I can't say. What I can say (atleast it appears obvious to me anyway) is that they seemed to like John Lennon. This song seems to reference atleast 2 John Lennon songs, "Instant Karma", and "Give Peace A Chance" (where they are actually quoting JL's song verbatim - "All we are saying is give peace a chance" during the organ part in the middle). This Yes song's a classic.
- David, Deerfield Beach, FL
You have to be real careful interpreting Yes' lyrics. If you are a fan of the band, you soon realize that the words are joined together because they make a line that sounds poetic and fits the melody. Quite often they are gibberish. I recall hearing this as a single and on albums but never hearing "give peace a chance" background until it came out on CD. I beleive it was mixed way down but later, was pulled up. the same can be said for the "instant kharma" reference. In the context of the line "send an instant comment to me" makes more sense. I'm sure Jon Anderson now sings "kharma". As far as Yes writing about politics and the economy- that is absurd to Yes fans.
- Dave, Scottsdale, AZ
The lyrics are goal not gold. Also the use of the black dark bishop as the piece talked about displays their thought that they turned the soldiers into "dark knights" if you will fighting for some evil purpose.
- George, New York, NY
"Don't surround yourself with yourself" is also a chess reference. A king can be easily checkmated by a knight if all of his escape squares are occupied. The saying is to encourage you to give your king some space.

FYI -- The opposite is when you give your king too much space; this is called "playing soccer" and usually happens when your king is drawn towards the middle of the board.
- Nate, Michigan City, IN
Just for the record: John Lennon died in December, 1980. Jon Anderson had left Yes several months before that and would not rejoin until 1983.
- Luis, Madrid, Spain
There is a whole lot of chess references in this, and some of the stuff that refers to politics and society at the time also reminded me of Chess. "Make the white queen run so fast..." White Queen? "Move me on to any black square." Like the bishop on the black square? "Don't surround yourself with yourself." If you play chess, you know that surrounding your king with pieces is a bad idea, since it easily leads to you being trapped and check-mated.

That's just my view.
- John, Boonville, NY
I dont know if anyone else realized this, but they definitely seem to be referring to a board game of some kind.
- John, Mountain Lakes, NJ
I only like the "Your Move" segment better
- Andrew Horne, Richmond, VA
On Yessongs (the live album) they don't seem to sing "all we are saying, etc". Could this have been added to the song later? I haven't got my ancient vinyl copy of the yes album anymore in order to check.
- Graham, Leeds, China
I Did that comment early 2005 patrick. I've done some re-search and found out that he didn't so ALL the albums with Yes...like 90125 and Big Genorator and also, Talk
- Max, Sydney, Australia
Actually Max Steve Howe left Yes and did some solo work and also played guitar for the band Asia (Heat of the Moment) and thats when Trevor Rabin played for Yes and helped them with Yes's #1 hit Owner Of A Lonely Heart.
- Patrick, Des Moines, IA
This is the first album with the gutairist, Steve Howe and he's been with yes ever since.
- Max, Sydney, Australia
it does say "instant comment" in the yes guitar book i have, but it's "kharma". i've seen them perform this live at least 20 times, jon makes sure you know he's saying kharma. also mentions another lennon song, (war is over) with "all we are saying is give peace a chance" - the guitar book fails to include those lyrics entirely.
- nick, nyc, NY
I never knew that about Yes recording a song about the Nixon Administration's decision to remove the United States from the goal standard. That's astounding. There are some really fascinating facts you learn from reading these songfacts. Hats off to the guys at the website for doing their homework.
- dirk, Nashville, TN
This song is featured in the movie "Big Fish"
- Kevin, Rocky River, OH
This is a great song and Yes`s albums are as good as ever..
- Max, Sydney, Australia
A good friend was schedule to hear Jon speak about his time with the band in December of 1982. After Lennon's death, Anderson went into a deep depression and cancelled the tour. I had no idea that Jon felt so stongly about Lennon's work, but it you listen to YES's music, the clues are all there.
- Charles, Bronxville, NY
Actually Michael, if you go to Yes' official website, you will find that it is in fact "goal" and not "gold" and it is "Instant Karma" not "Instant Comment".
http://yesworld.com/lyrics/TheYesAlbum.html#4
- Otto, Miami, FL
According to their own published lyrics, it says, "just remember that the gold, is for us all to capture". It also says "instant comment", not instant karma. It's in a Yes guitar songbook. Who am I to argue. MJ NYC
- michael, nyc, United States
The best of yes' commercial hits
- sean, newmarket, Canada
Grieat song by Yes. I with I had seen them for the recent tour. That would have been cool. Didn't know the song's actually about war. I got the chess terms though.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
I really like this song. Probably one of the best songs ever.
- Savannah, Salem, IN
Ironically enough, future Yes drummer Alan White played the drums on Lennon's "Instant Karma".
- Kent Lyle, Palo Alto, CA
Someone has already mentioned that this song references "Instant Karma" by John Lennon, but no one has mentioned that the refrain "All we are saying is give peace a chance" is also by John Lennon ("Give Peace a Chance", 1969)
- Antony, Eastbourne, England
This song was played in the background of one of the previews for the Tim Burton film, Big Fish; however, it is not actually in the movie nor on the soundtrack.
- Christina, Ramstein, Germany
Yeah this really is a great Yes song. I saw Yes in detroit for thier 35th anniversery tour and I'll tell ya, they were spectacular. None of them have lost any talants due to the aging process. They were so rockin' and they made the whole experience unforgettable. They played this and it was extraordinary.
- Jonathan, Ann Arbor, MI
It does say "Goal", but it IS an anti-war song. If you listen closely to the harmonizing lyrics, you can hear the refrain "All we are saying is give peace a chance".
- Mark, Savannah, GA
The actual line is " Just remember that the GOAL is for us to...it has nothing to do with Nixon or the gold standard. The song is simply about a chess game.
- Brian, Wilmington, DE
Great Yes song. First hit in America, only using Your Move as a single selection. Nevertheless, a nice introduction to the band.
- Robert, Chicago, IL
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