One Track Mind: Gino Vannelli, "People Gotta Move" (1974)

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by S. Victor Aaron

“If that guy hits you, I’m not stopping to help you!”

“Come on, people, MOVE!!!”

“Get your @#$% out of my way!”

My wife, God love her, gets a little impatient with her fellow motorists and often has these one-sided conversations with them from behind the wheel. We sometimes joke that she needs some sort of a remote-controlled megaphone attached to the hood of her car so that they can hear her dispense driving advice to them.

I don’t worry, though, because number one she’s ultimately a safe driver and number two she drives a big behemoth SUV and if anyone gets hurt it probably won’t be us. So, I have the luxury of sitting back and chuckling over this from my shotgun seat. And sometimes, as I sit there in amusement I crack a smile knowing what Gino Vannelli would say—or shall I say, sing about all this. He too would be encouraging people to move…like he did in his debut, rump-shaking jazz-funk hit from thirty-six odd years ago.

Ever since “People Gotta Move” first hit American airwaves, I’ve had this fascination going on for with this Canadian’s music. The guy’s got an operatic, lusty voice, and some songs with catchy, jazzy hooks and modern production touches. Indeed, “Move” had a real modern sound for its time; polyphonic synthesizers were still new to the music industry in 1974, and the layered individual synth parts done by his brother Joe combined with a bass synth and a rhythmically charged electric piano created a space age sound adapted for the Adult Contemporary crowd. That all seems so dated today, and “People Gotta Move” has that and some bizarre lyrics going against it like:

People come on do it right
Shake your behinds like a dynamite
Chuck all your worries and toss your thighs
To be tame is a pain when you realize…

You gotta move (…synth blast…)
You gotta move (…synth blast…)
Oh, you gotta move (…synth blast…)
Oh, people gotta move (…synth blast…)
You gotta move

Yet still, it’s got a percussion-laden Latin groove that really does makes you wanna move and Vannelli’s emphatic call to the dancefloor topped off by a little falsetto. Something made that song appealing enough to hit #22 on the Billboard Top 100 chart back then, and perhaps oddly so, it’s still appealing today.

Maybe we should have Gino’s song blasting through that imaginary bullhorn attached to the hood of the SUV instead of my wife’s intolerant voice. I’m sure those lughead drivers out there would heed.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron
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