♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫

Since today is Juneteenth, and a special celebration since it is now officially a federal holiday, I thought it only appropriate to play some Motown — in my book some of the best music produced in the U.S.!  Of course, since I feature Motown songs and artists pretty often in these posts, I’ve already played most of my favourites at one point or another … some of them twice.  This one I’ve played only once, two years ago in 2019, so it will be new to many of you.   And Happy Juneteenth!


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

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

  1. Pingback: ♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫ – Título do Site

        • True, but I just didn’t care for … all the noise! Eric Burdon and the Animals did a few songs I really liked, such as House of the Rising Sun, but other than those few, I really didn’t much care for their music.

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          • I do not want to change you in any way, Jill, but it makes me sad that you are missing a whole genre of great music and poetry. I know what it is like to not like certain styles, opera, operetta, chamber music, etc, all bore me to death. But rock, hard rock, blues rock, 60s psychedelic rock, they all have so much to offer.
            But that is me, and you are you.

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            • My friend, Herb, has long tried to sway me to his favourite music style, which is largely dark like Nine Inch Nails, etc. I finally explained to him that I don’t enjoy listening to that music. And I say the same to you. There’s no reason at all to be sad, for the music I like brings me great joy, but why should I waste time listening to music that doesn’t appeal to me, that brings a scowl rather than a frown to my face. No, I’m not missing out on anything … we all have different tastes in music and I’m perfectly happy playing only songs that I actually like. Same with food … I love some seafood but don’t ever eat oysters or squid or octopus. I don’t like them. I’m not missing out, just have my own preferences. I respect your right to like what you like … please do the same.

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  2. Marvin and Tammi had this one nailed down for me. When you finish getting round to Keith’s documentary try having a look at Ashford and Simpson’s Solid as a Rock and see if you remember it. Unless you already have done.
    Cwtch

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    • I agree with you on Marvin & Tammi. Thought I haven’t yet managed to watch the documentary, I did go check out the song “Solid” and I am amazed to have to say that I have never, to the best of my knowledge, heard that one before! It hit #12 here, so it seems that I should have heard it, but I haven’t. I did like it, though, as evidenced by the fact that I listened to the whole song and even checked it out on SongFacts! Dunno how I missed it back in 1984 … but then, at the time, I was going through a divorce, working three jobs, and going to college, so maybe I just didn’t pay attention.
      Cwtch

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  3. Pingback: ♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫ | Filosofa’s Word | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  4. I much prefer the Marvin & Tammi version. The Ross one is too mushy and overblown for my taste. Tammi’s was a tragic story, but she achieved a lot in a short time.

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  5. Jill, it is interesting to see how well-prepared and orchestrated Ashford and Simpson’s songwriting was. In the “Motown” documentary, the house band would often help make a song better, but it sounds like Ashford and Simpson had the songs more developed. Keith

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    • You suggested that documentary to me when I first played this one back in 2019 and I STILL haven’t managed to watch it! I shall put it on my ‘to do’ list for this weekend … a perfect time to watch it, since we have rain, thunderstorms, tornado warnings, hail and more, so I won’t be setting foot outside the house!

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      • Jill, the documentary is a treat. The friendly competition to write and record songs made them all better, plus the house band was a bunch of tier one jazz musicians they recruited in Detroit. Keith

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        • I watched the first few minutes of it just now, and I am definitely going to finish watching it, but not tonight, as it is already after 3:00 a.m. and I’m heading to bed as soon as I finish responding to comments! But tomorrow ….

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