Curtis Mayfield – “Move on Up” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” is a song about overcoming obstacles and striving for a better life. The track is an empowering encouragement to take life’s hurdles in stride and “move on up” towards one’s goals and desires. The lyrics emphasize pushing through complications and not letting hardships hinder one’s progress. It conveys a universal message, appealing to anyone seeking elevation in life. Mayfield’s words are not directed towards a specific person but rather anyone who finds solace and motivation in music. It’s a beautiful representation of hope and determination.

Curious to see how “Move on Up” delivers more than just a melodic tune? Explore further and uncover the layers of depth in Curtis Mayfield’s poetic lines.

“Move on Up” Lyrics Meaning

Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” resonates with a myriad of listeners due to its timeless, motivational lyrics. The song starts with a comforting address, “Hush now child, And don’t you cry,” which immediately sets a soothing and uplifting tone, reflecting themes of understanding and consolation. The lyrics “Your folks might understand you, By and by,” hint at the struggles of being misunderstood and the optimism that, eventually, understanding may come.

The chorus, “Just move on up, Towards your destination,” serves as a beacon of encouragement. It’s the song’s core message, inspiring listeners to persevere and aim high, irrespective of the “Complications” they might encounter. This directive to “move on up” isn’t just about physical or societal ascent; it’s about personal growth and moral elevation.

Then, “Bite your lip, And take a trip,” portrays the journey as one filled with challenges and perhaps pain, symbolized by the biting of the lip. It also implies that the journey itself is essential, not just the destination. The mention of a “wet road ahead” symbolizes potential pitfalls and obstacles in life that one must navigate without slipping. The song reinforces the idea that these tribulations are surmountable, and “peace you will find.”

Mayfield refers to a “steeple of beautiful people,” suggesting a place where goodness and kindness reign, emphasizing the unity and shared humanity in such a place. It’s a place where one finds solace and support from like-minded individuals, a utopia of sorts where “there’s only one kind.”

The lines “Remember your dream is your only scheme, So keep on pushin’” are especially striking, urging listeners to stay focused on their dreams and aspirations and to keep pushing forward despite any setbacks. It advocates for holding onto one’s vision, emphasizing the power of determination and resilience.

The concluding verses of the song underscore refusing subpar circumstances and not succumbing to “rumors people say.” It’s a final encouragement to believe in oneself and strive for “the supreme best,” emphasizing the importance of faith and self-belief in attaining a “greater day.”

The Story Behind “Move on Up”

Curtis Mayfield, a visionary of his time, crafted “Move on Up” in a period of profound social and political upheaval. The early 70s were characterized by the struggles for civil rights and the collective yearning for social justice and equality. Mayfield was deeply affected by these societal challenges and used his music as a medium to convey messages of hope and empowerment.

Mayfield’s state of mind during the crafting of this song was likely driven by a fervent desire to instigate change and uplift the spirits of those grappling with the societal tensions of the time. The song wasn’t just a melody; it was a beacon of hope, an anthem of resilience for those feeling marginalized and disheartened. The struggles and the fight for equality influenced the lyrics’ depth and intense relevancy, making the song a timeless masterpiece.

The creation of “Move on Up” was spurred by a need to express solidarity with those facing hardships and to encourage them to rise above their circumstances. It became a musical embodiment of the aspirations and dreams of countless individuals. The lyrics reflect Mayfield’s personal experiences and observations and the collective experiences of a society striving for progress and enlightenment.

The song’s composition is imbued with Mayfield’s hopes for a world where understanding, kindness, and shared humanity prevail, allowing people to move beyond their complications and ascend to a place of peace and unity. It’s a soulful representation of his deep-seated beliefs in the transformative power of love, unity, and perseverance, and it remains an enduring symbol of the indomitable human spirit.