♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫ (Redux)

Since today is Juneteenth,  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 twice before, 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

23 thoughts on “♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫ (Redux)

  1. I’m with you on this, I much prefer the Tammi/Marvin version. Not a particular favourite, but I quite like it though. It’s a pity they didn’t let Dusty Springfield record it, as she had a smoky, soulful voice and would have done it proud.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Pingback: ♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫ (Redux) — Filosofa’s Word | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

  3. I hesitate to say Horatio, because I did not listen to this particular song you highlighted. But I listened to a lot of Motown yesterday, in addition to a few other things. Just listened, nothing in particular. Even some non-Motown soul, but it still sounded like Motown.
    Here is a very special piece of Motown and music history, because it involves Canadians, including a very special Canadian who is known all over the world. But not for his soul singing. As you watch the video, look for a white label that says Gordy. Not for sale. The quality is not the greatest, for which “I” cannot apologize, but it highlights this non-Black Canadian that will probably shock a lot of people. The writing credits for the song are up towards the top of the label, right there in black and white. Some people “might” tecognize him before the label comes up, but it won’t be many, if any at all, unless they know the whole story. No hints.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seems I didn’t generate any interest in the past accomplishments of Tommy Chong, half the famous comedy duo of Cheech and Chong. So well known for his druggie humour, yet a man of so many talents. But I guess “Dave’s not here!” anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so sorry! It’s not that it didn’t generate interest, just that I’ve been short of both time and energy for the past several days and somehow missed your original comment. But, even having just read the original comment with the song, I don’t see anything about Tommy Chong … sorry, I’m exhausted and probably not operating on all cylinders tonight. I do appreciate your humour, though, and I DO remember Cheech and Chong!!!


        • Tommy was one of the two writers of the dong, I believe the lyricist. I heard an interview with him on CBC radio years later, and I know he said something about dating a white woman in his teens, and her parents being opposed to it. From the song, it is easy to believe it was black/white racism, but in this instance it was really yellow/white.

          Liked by 1 person

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