Ain't No Mountain High Enough

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is a song written by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson in 1966 for the Tamla label, a division of Motown. The composition was first successful as a 1967 hit single recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and became a hit again in 1970 when recorded by former Supremes frontwoman Diana Ross. The song became Ross's first solo number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.[4]

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Single by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
from the album United
B-side"Give a Little Love"
ReleasedApril 20, 1967
RecordedDecember 1966 – February 1967
StudioHitsville U.S.A., Detroit, Michigan
LabelTamla (T-54149)
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell singles chronology
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
"Your Precious Love"

Background edit

The song was written by Ashford and Simpson prior to joining Motown. British soul singer Dusty Springfield wanted to record the song but the duo 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. Nick called it the 'golden egg'."[5] Springfield recorded a similar verse melody in "I'm Gonna Leave You" on Dusty.[citation needed]

The original 1967 version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was a top-20 hit. According to record producers, Terrell was a little nervous and intimidated during the recording sessions because she did not rehearse the lyrics. Terrell recorded her vocals alone with producers Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol, who added Gaye's vocal at a later date.[6] "Ain't No Mountain" peaked at number 19 on the Billboard pop charts, and went to number three on the R&B charts.[7]Billboard's original review of the single stated: "Chalk up another pulsating fast smash for Gaye with his new partner Tammi Terrell. The electricity of the duo combined with the blockbuster rhythm material grooves all the way."[8]

Cashbox advertisement, May 27, 1967

This original version of "Ain't No Mountain", produced by Fuqua and Bristol, was a care-free, danceable, and romantic love song that became the signature duet between Gaye and Terrell. Its success led to a string of more Ashford/Simpson penned duets (including "You're All I Need to Get By", "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", and "Your Precious Love"). In 1999, the Gaye/Terrell version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[9]

The Gaye/Terrell version was included in the soundtrack for the 1998 film Stepmom, the 2000 film Remember the Titans as well as the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy.

Personnel edit

Charts edit

Chart (1967) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 19
US Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles (Billboard)[11] 3
Chart (2013) Peak
France (SNEP)[12] 90
UK Singles (OCC)[13] 80

Certifications edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Belgium (BEA)[14] Gold 10,000
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[15] Platinum 90,000
Germany (BVMI)[16] Gold 250,000
Italy (FIMI)[17] Platinum 50,000
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[18] 2× Platinum 120,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[19]
Digital sales since 2004
3× Platinum 1,800,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

The Supremes and Temptations version edit

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.

Diana Ross solo version edit

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Single by Diana Ross
from the album Diana Ross
B-side"Can't It Wait Until Tomorrow"
ReleasedJuly 16, 1970
RecordedMarch 13, 14, and 18, 1970
StudioHitsville USA (Studio A), Detroit, Michigan
GenrePsychedelic soul[3]
  • 6:18 (album version)
  • 3:32 (single version)
LabelMotown (M 1169)
Songwriter(s)Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Producer(s)Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Diana Ross singles chronology
"Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)"
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
"Remember Me"

In early 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". Initially, Ross was apprehensive, but was convinced to make the recording. The remake was a complete reworking of the song, featuring a style similar to gospel with elements of classical music strings and horns, and spoken-word passages from Ross. The Andantes, Jimmy Beavers, Jo Armstead, Ashford & Simpson and Brenda Evans and Billie Calvin of the Undisputed Truth were used as backing singers, giving the song a soul and gospel vocal element. Ross' version of the song was released on July 19, 1970, as the second and final single from her solo self-titled 1970 debut album by Motown.

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 to number one on both the pop and R&B singles charts, higher than Gaye/Terrell's version.[20] Ross received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The song is performed in the key of C minor for most of the song, changing to F sharp major towards its conclusion.

In 2017, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was remixed by Eric Kupper, StoneBridge and Chris Cox, amongst others, on Motown/UMe.[21] The remix peaked at number one on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart.[22]

This song is featured in the soundtrack of the 2005 Disney animated movie Chicken Little, in which the titular character goes to watch an in-universe movie at the cinema in the climax.

This version is also featured in the fifteenth season of RuPaul's Drag Race as a lipsync battle between the bottom 2 of the week, Princess Poppy and Amethyst, resulting in the former's elimination.

Personnel edit

Charts edit

Certifications edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[37] Silver 200,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Other notable covers edit

  • In 1981, American disco band Inner Life released their version, which reached No. 20 on the U.S. Dance chart.[38] It is particularly noted for the 10 minute Larry Levan remix.
  • In 1981, Boys Town Gang recorded a medley of the song "Remember Me" together with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". The single was a No. 5 U.S. Dance hit and a top 20 hit in Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • In 1991, Australian singer Jimmy Barnes released an album of soul remakes titled Soul Deep, including his rock version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". His version reached No. 28 in Australia in 1992.[39]
  • In 2004, Jimmy Somerville recorded his version for his studio album Home Again. The song was also released as a single, charting in Germany at number 88.[40]
  • In 2018, a remix of the Diana Ross version reached No. 1 on the US Dance Club Songs chart.[41]
  • In 2024, German Eurodance trio Cascada recorded a cover version for their studio album "Studio 24".

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "The 20 greatest love songs of all time". NME. February 9, 2021. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  2. ^ Guarisco, Donald A. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Horton, Matthew (2015). "Diana Ross - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". In Dimery, Robert (ed.). 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. New York: Universe. p. 263.
  4. ^ "1970 Grammy Winners". Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  5. ^ Kot, Greg (November 17, 2011). "Valerie Simpson on Nick Ashford: 'I'm not used to him not being here yet'". Chicago Tribune.
  6. ^ Chin, Brian (2001). Liner notes for Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: The Complete Duets. New York: Motown Records/UMG Recordings.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits. New York, NY: Billboard Books, 2006. Print.
  8. ^ "Spotlight Singles" (PDF). Billboard. May 6, 1967. p. 20. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  9. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". The GRAMMYs. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  10. ^ "Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  11. ^ "Marvin Gaye Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  12. ^ "Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  13. ^ "Marvin Gaye: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  14. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – singles 2016". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 12, 2023.
  15. ^ "Danish single certifications – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – Ain't No Mountain High Enough". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  16. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell; 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  17. ^ "Italian single certifications – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  18. ^ "Premios (Awards)". Retrieved January 12, 2024.
  19. ^ "British single certifications – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain't No Mountain High Enough". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  20. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 501.
  21. ^ "Diana Ross – Ain't No Mountain High Enough / Can't It Wait Until Tomorrow". discogs. 1970. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  22. ^ "Dance Club Songs – January 20, 2018". Billboard. January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  23. ^ "Go-Sets National Top 40". Go-Set. December 5, 1970. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  24. ^ "Every Unique AMR Top 100 Single of the 1970". Top 100 Singles. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  25. ^ "Billboard HITS OF THE WORLD". Billboard. Vol. 82, no. 40. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. October 3, 1970. p. 64. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  26. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4363." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  27. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  28. ^ "Diana Ross - Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  29. ^ "Diana Ross: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  30. ^ "Diana Ross Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  31. ^ "Diana Ross Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  32. ^ "Diana Ross Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
  33. ^ "Top 100 1970-09-26". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
  34. ^ "Official Singles Downloads Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  35. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". July 17, 2013.
  36. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1970/Top 100 Songs of 1970". Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  37. ^ "British single certifications – Diana Ross – Ain't No Mountain High Enough". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 17, 2023.
  38. ^ "Allmusic: Inner Life – Awards". Billboard. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  39. ^ Chart Position @ Retrieved May 3, 2009
  40. ^ Offizielle Deutsche Charts – Jimmy Somerville "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
  41. ^ "Diana Ross". Retrieved June 7, 2021.

External links edit