♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫

I hadn’t even thought of a song for tonight, likely there wouldn’t have been one, as I’m still a bit under the weather and very tired.  But then I read Keith’s post about Motown, and the documentary movie Hitsville:  The Making of Motown, and suddenly I was in the mood for some Motown Sound!   I really thought I had played this one just a couple of weeks ago, but I find that I didn’t … must have gotten sidetracked.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough is an R&B/soul song written by the husband/wife songwriting team of Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson in 1966 for the Tamla label, a division of Motown.  Nick Ashford was inspired by an experience when he first moved to New York. He was walking down a Manhattan thoroughfare, determined that New York City would not get the best of him; the words “Ain’t no mountain high enough” popped into his head.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell recorded the original version, which peaked at #19 US in 1967. Uriel Jones of The Funk Brothers, who played the drums on Gaye and Terrell’s original version, recalled …

“Ashford and Simpson had written the song and they always came to the studio with charts. This time was no exception; they came with the song fully written out. The lyrics were written out too. They were one of the few producers and writers who had full charts and made us work from them. They knew 95 percent what they wanted to hear. Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua were the actual producers in charge of the recording. We did the rhythm track first, then they put the horns on second. Then they recorded Tammi Terrell’s vocal, then they did Marvin Gaye’s next. Each vocal was done separately, the singer in the studio with the producer on their own, and they put it all together at the end. You know, I never heard the finished song until I switched on the radio and it was playing.”

British soul singer Dusty Springfield wanted to record the song but Ashford & Simpson declined, hoping it would give them access to the Detroit-based label. As Valerie Simpson later recalled, “We played that song for her (Springfield) but wouldn’t give it to her, because we wanted to hold that back. We felt like that could be our entry to Motown.”

Diana Ross & The Supremes recorded a version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough which was more faithful to the Terrell-Gaye original version as a duet with The Temptations. That song was an album cut from a joint LP released by Motown Records in 1968 on the two superstar groups, titled Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations.

In spring 1970, after the Top 20 success of her first solo single, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), Ashford and Simpson had Ross re-record “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.

Motown chief Berry Gordy did not like the record upon first hearing it. He hated the spoken-word passages and wanted the song to begin with the climactic chorus/bridge. It was not until radio stations nationwide were editing their own versions and adding it to their playlists that Ashford and Simpson were able to convince Gordy to release an edited three-minute version as a single. Ross’ version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” rose up to number one on both the pop and R&B singles charts. Ross received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

I prefer the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell version, but the Diana Ross version is good, as well, so I proffer both!

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell

Listen baby, ain’t no mountain high
Ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough baby
If you need me call me no matter where you are
No matter how far don’t worry baby
Just call my name I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry

‘Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Remember the day I set you free
I told you you could always count on me darling
From that day on, I made a vow
I’ll be there when you want me
Some way, some how

‘Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Oh no darling
No wind, no rain
Or winters cold can stop me baby, na na baby
‘Cause you are my goal
If you’re ever in trouble
I’ll be there on the double
Just send for me, oh baby, ha

My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
If you ever need a helping hand
I’ll be there on the double
Just as fast as I can
Don’t you know that there

Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Don’tcha know that there
Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
Ain’t mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough

Songwriters: Valerie Simpson / Nickolas Ashford
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

22 thoughts on “♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫

  1. YOU are going to love “Hitsville : The Making of Motown”! Get the Family together and watch it posthaste! Then again, you could wait for the DVD…but, why wait! The soundtrack is already available, so good with so much Motown Sound in one place! The only thing that surprises me…you did not know about this monumental event until when??? Last night or this morning??? Yikes!!! But, moving on to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It seems to me that some time ago another song of theirs was featured and I went on at length about the early demise of the talented Terrell. I found this to be one of Motown’s greatest losses, for music lovers as well. Gaye had been paired with three other partners : Mary Wells, Kim Weston and Oma Page. It was not until 1966 that he was partnered with Terrell and they were magnificent and musically productive in the short years they had together. If you listen to the April 1969 album “Marvin Gaye and His Girls” you will soon grasp the special something that Gaye and Terrell shared. The three albums of Gaye and Terrell duets : “United” in August 1967 that has this song, “Your All I Need” in August 1968, and “Easy” in September 1969 are favorites of mine. There was some controversy over whether the very ill Terrell’s voice was on much of the “Easy” album. Valerie Simpson, who subbed at times, denied that the final released album was her singing, but was actually Terrell’s voice. The latest release of the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell songs is the 2001 “The Complete Duets”, a gift to others and myself! Thank-you! P.S. Diana Ross is a gifted songstress and has recorded many great songs, but this song belongs to Marvin and Tammi!

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    • I am planning to watch if very soon! As soon as I feel better, for right now it’s everything I can do to keep up with this blog. No, I hadn’t heard about it until I read Keith’s post! I think my head is buried in politics these days and I seem to find time for little else. I have made note of some of the songs/albums you mention here … will check them out! Thank you! I agree with you … this one, at least to me, belongs to Marvin and Tammi … Diana Ross has many great ones to her own and the Supremes’ credit.

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  2. I’m all for Marvin and Tammi’s version of this. I like the Supremes/Temptations and even Diana Ross on her own is OKx. I recall Berry Gordy was asked if Diana Ross was the best female singer in Motown he replied that she wasn’t even the best singer in the Supremes.Maybe true though I liked her a lot. Just as a side point, I liked Ashford & Simpson’s own record, Solid as a Rock.

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    • I wanted to also put the Supremes/Temptations version on here, but ran out of energy before I got to it. They are all good. I don’t think I’ve heard “Solid as a Rock” … I’ll check it out. As for what Gordy said … I don’t think it matters who was “best”, for music is an art, not a science. We all hear it in our own way. I can’t think of a single Motown artist who wasn’t a joy to listen to. Did you check out Keith’s recommendation for that documentary film about Motown? Sounds like something you would like. I’m planning to watch it when I’m feeling a bit better.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the shout out. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell deserve a lot more acclaim as a duo. Interesting about the full charting of the song from Ashford and Simpson.

    Motown had success with more than one artist recording a song. Gladys Knight and the Pips had a number 1 song with “I heard it through the grapevine” which the authors wanted for Marvin Gaye. Gaye recorded a slightly different version and it became Motown’s biggest hit at the time. Keith

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  4. It’s hard to believe they made Tammi and Marvin record their parts separately. And also sad. Good choice, Jill. Though I wish you had added the Supremes/Tempts version. Just me, I love the Temptations, though they were hardly ever the same voices two records in a row.

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