Nightly Song
Musings on Songs that Strike a Chord Tonight

(You Got to)Walk and Don’t Look Back – Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger

Written Smokey Robinson and Ronald White. Originally performed by The Temptations, this article concerns the version by Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger. You can listen (and check out a neat video) to the Tosh and Jagger performance here. You can check the Temptations version here. You can buy the Tosh-Jagger version from iTunes here.

A great song, written by members of the Miracles (Smokey Robinson and Ronald White) and originally recorded by The Temptations, “Walk and Don’t Look” has been recorded by dozens of artists, but never better than the version by Mick Jagger and Peter Tosh.

Peter Tosh usually eschewed love songs, but the positive message of this song combined with the opportunity to sing with Jagger proved irresistible. Tosh’s politics mesh perfectly with the optimism that love can solve our problems. Tosh sings the opening verse:

If it’s love that you’re running from
There is no hiding place
Just your problems, no one else’s problems
You just have to face

The ease of Tosh’s voice, the calm of the music makes it easy to accept his wisdom. The reggae merges perfectly with the theme of the song crystallized by the chorus:

If you just put your hand in mine
We’re gonna leave all our troubles behind
Gonna walk and don’t look back

The joyous, swaying rhythms makes all the more convincing the message of trusting in love to make our problems disappear. Then Jagger takes the second verse about failed love:

Now if your first lover let you down
There’s something that can be done
Don’t kill your faith in love
Remembering what’s become

His cocky exuberance propels the song forward. Their two voices – the rooted Jamaican and the strutting Brit – play-off each other well.  They repeat the chorus with fervor and fun that it sweeps you up and carries you along. Who cannot believe?

The recording ends with some banter between Tosh and Jagger that adds intimacy to the whole performance and conveys the ease and friendship that buoys the entire performance.

The Stones and Peter Tosh

This song proved to be the highlight of a brief and intense business and musical relationship between the Stones and Peter Tosh. A member of Bob Marley’s group, the Wailers, Tosh broke out on his own in the mid-70’s, performing gritty reggae songs with great passion. He released his first solo album in 1976 and had a minor hit with “Legalize It,” an anthem calling for the legalization of marijuana.  Columbia dropped him from their label after the one album.

Both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were fans of Bob Marley and they both attended the One Love Peace Concert held in 1978 at the height of the Jamaican civil war. Sponsored by Bob Marley, the concert aimed to bring peace to Jamaica. After hearing Peer Tosh perform, the Stones signed him to their new label.

Tosh moved into Keith’s villa and Mick and Keith helped him record one album on which “(You Got to Walk) Don’t Look Back” appeared. Peter Tosh performed as one of the opening acts on the Stones tour of the U.S. in 1978. Despite the support of the Stones, the album did not sell well.  Tosh recorded a second album for the label, but this time did not have the active support of the Stones. He went his own way after that album frustrated that he did not reach the popularity he had dreamed his association with the Stones would produce.

Peter Tosh died when shot during a break in at his home in Jamaica in 1987.

The Temptations recorded the song with the title “Don’t Look Back.”  It is somewhat noteworthy because Pal Williams, the original lead singer, took the lead vocals on this one even though Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin had taken over the led vocals by the time they recorded this song in 1965.

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3 Responses to “(You Got to)Walk and Don’t Look Back – Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger”

  1. Keith absolutely did not attend the one love concert. Reggae scholar Roger Steffens asked Keith about this rumour in an interview and Keith said he was not there.

    • I stand corrected. Thanks for noting the error.

      Of course, this account depends upon Keith accurately remembering what really happened and he’s been known to make mistakes.

      Thanks again for spotting this mistake.

  2. […] Graffiti) with several Rastas, one of whom is Peter Tosh. (Jagger and Tosh recorded a single, “(You Got to) Walk and Don’t Look Back.”) Mick is resplendent as only he could be in his white pants, madras shirt and floppy hat, […]


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