Curtis Mayfield, “Move On Up”

Like so many of the best singer-songwriters who started out as members of bands, Curtis Mayfield felt the need to get out on his own. As successful as he was with The Impressions in the 60s, he heralded a new decade and a bold, forward-looking sound with his solo debut in 1970, simply titled Curtis. By incorporating a harder-edged, funkier type of musical backing and writing lyrics that detailed societal ills with candor and outspokenness, Mayfield was redefining what R&B could be. Songs like “(Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go” and “We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue” displayed an unwillingness to tame his messages for the mainstream. But Mayfield could also spread uplift with the best of them, as he proved on the anthemic “Move On Up.” People often mention the oft-sampled, horn-based music for the song, but the lyrics show Mayfield spouting positivity without getting treacly. “Move On Up” is framed as a conversation to a child, with Mayfield acting as the avuncular sage who knows just what to say when times seem overwhelmingly tough. His message is that we should keep striving towards an ideal, even when obstacles in our…

To view this content,

Join Today

or Sign In

The Benefits of Membership:

  • Subscription to the American Songwriter Print Magazine
  • Access to all Feature Magazine Content Online
  • Access to Print Edition Archives
  • Premium content in our Songwriter U section
  • Discounts on vinyl, Songwriter services, and other American Songwriter Partners
  • Exclusive access to members-only contests and giveaways
Click to Join

We've started an American Songwriter membership! Click here to learn more.