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Moving On Song

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Ewan MacColl’s Moving On Song is a song from the BBC radio ballad The Travelling People, first broadcast on 17 April 1964. This track was also included in 1972 on Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger’s Argo anthology The World of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger Volume 2 and in 2006 on the Free Reed anthology Midwinter.

Ewan MacColl also sang The Moving On Song in a 1983 recording that was released in 1990 on his Cooking Vinyl CD Black and White, but not on the LP issue of that album.

Nigel Denver sang The Moving On Song in 1965 as the title track of his Decca album Moving On.

The Exiles sang The Moving-On Song in 1966 on their Topic album Freedom, Come All Ye. Gordon McCulloch noted:

The ‘travelling folk’, the gypsies of England and the tinkers of Scotland and Ireland cling tenaciously to old ways. They remain an important source of traditional song and story in these islands. Legislation against them throughout their long history has always been merciless. Ewan MacColl wrote The Moving-On Song for his radio ballad, The Travelling People.

Dave Burland sang The Moving On Song in 1978 on his, Tony Capstick’s and Dick Gaughan’s Rubber album Songs of Ewan MacColl, and Tony Capstick sang it in the same year on his Rubber album Tony Capstick Does a Turn.

Frankie Armstrong sang The Moving-On Song on her 1980 album And the Music Plays So Grand.

Sheila Stewart sang The Moving-On Song on the 1985 Lismor album The Stewarts of Blair and on her 2000 Topic CD From the Heart of the Tradition.

Malcolm’s Interview sang Moving On in 1987 on their Topic / Special Delivery album Breakfast in Bedlam.

Roy Bailey sang the Moving-On Song in 1991 on his Fuse album Never Leave a Story Unsung.

Christy Moore sang Go Move Shift on his 1973 album The Time Has Come.

Denny Bartley sang The Moving On Song in 1995 on Chris Sherburn’s and his CD Last Night’s Fun.

Wizz Jones sang the Moving On Song during an interview by Martin Carthy on his Sound Techniques DVD Guitar Maestros.

Kris Drever and Èamonn Coyne sang the Moving On Song in 2014 on their Reveal album Mareel.

Norma Waterson sang the Moving On Song in 2015 on Cooking Vinyl’s Ewan MacColl centenary tribute album Joy of Living.

Johnny Campbell sang the Moving On Song live in Nólsoy, Faroe Islands, in September 2018. This recording was released in 2019 on his album From Hull and Halifax and Hell.

Siobhan Miller sang Go, Move, Shift on her 2022 album Bloom.


Moving On Song in The Travelling People

Born in the middle of the afternoon
In a horse-drawn wagon on the old A5;
The big twelve-wheeler shook me bed,
“You can’t stop here,” the policeman said,

Chorus (after each verse):
“You’d better get born in some place else,
So move along, get along!
Move along, get along!
Go! Move! Shift!”

Born in the tattie-lifting time
In an old bow-tent near a tattie field;
The feirmer said, “The wark’s a’ done,
It’s time that you was moving on,”

Born on a common near a building site,
Where the ground is rutted by the trailers’ wheels;
The local people said to me,
“You’ll lower the price of property,”

Wagon, tent or trailer born,
Last week, last year or in far-off days;
Born here or a thousand miles away,
There’s always men nearby who say,

Born at the back of a blackthorn hedge,
When the white hoar frost lay all around;
No Eastern kings came bearing gifts,
Instead the order came to shift.

The winter sky was hung with stars
And one shone brighter than the rest;
The wise men came, so stern and strict
And brought the order to evict.