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Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder

Album: InnervisionsReleased: 1973Charted:
  • The lyrics deal with getting a second chance ("So darn glad he let me try it again") and making the most of it. Strangely, Wonder recorded it three months before he was almost killed on his way to a benefit concert in Durham, North Carolina. The car he was riding in was behind a truck carrying a load of logs, which stopped suddenly, sending a log through the windshield and hitting Wonder in the head. The accident put Wonder in a coma for four days. His road manager and good friend, Ira Tucker Jr., knew that Stevie liked to listen to music at high volume, so he tried singing this song directly into his ear. At first he got no response, but the next day, he tried again and Wonder's fingers started moving in time with the song - the first sign that he was going to recover.

    Recalling his time in the coma, Wonder said, "For a few days I was definitely in a much better spiritual place that made me aware of a lot of things that concern my life and my future and what I have to do to reach another higher ground. This is like my second chance for life, to do something or to do more and to face the fact that I am alive."

    Innervisions was released on August 3, 1973, just three days before Wonder's accident.
  • Guided by a mix of Christian morality and astrological mysticism, Wonder believed he was writing a "special song" whose lyrics suggested a coming day of judgment. "I did the whole thing in three hours" he told Q magazine. It was almost as if I had to get it done. I felt something was going to happen. I didn't know what or when, but I felt something."
  • When he turned 21, Wonder renegotiated his deal with Motown Records, taking control of his recordings by forming his own production and publishing companies. Motown was very regimented in terms of what musicians and producers were used on recordings, but Stevie wanted to do most of this work himself. In 1971, he teamed with the engineers Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil and began a constant cycle of recording in which he played most of the instruments himself. On this track, Wonder is the only credited musician, listed as playing Hohner clavinet, drums, and Moog bass.
  • In 1993 UB40 included a cover version on their Promises And Lies album that reached #45 in the US and #8 in the UK.
  • Wonder was a huge influence on The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who remade this with a more uptempo beat on their Mother's Milk album. They even thank him in the lyrics by adding the phrase "You know what Stevie says." Their version helped introduce many listeners to Wonder. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Shirl - Bay Area, CA
  • Wonder sang an a cappella version of this song with Alicia Keys at the Grammy Awards in 2006.
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Comments: 15

I'd heard that the accident took away some, or all, of Stevie's sense of smell.Dave - Wheaton, Il
On August 12th 1973, "Higher Ground" by Stevie Wonder entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #73; and on October 7th ,1973 it peaked at #4 {for 1 week} and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100... And on September 23rd, 1973 it reached #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...His two preceding releases peaked at #1 on the Top 100; "Superstition" {for 1 week} and "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" {for 1 week}...Mr. Wonder, born Stevland Hardaway Judkins, celebrated his 64th birthday three months ago on May 13th, 2014.Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
This song was in an NBA tv commercial a number of years ago.Neal - Grand Rapids, Mi
The album Innervisions was the first of three-years-in-a-row Grammy awards for Stevie for Best Album of the Year and these are considered the Holy Trinity by Stevie fans...Innervisions...Fullfillingness' First Finale...Songs In The Key of Life.
Brandon - Burbank, Ca
Sorry....but Stevie version is the best.....PERIOD!!Ron - Los Angeles, Ca
What a great song! Stevie's funky, syncopated beat is unique to the world. And a lvoely, upbeat message! He made funk palatable to the vast white audience out there. More proof of his certified GENIUS.Guy - Woodinville, Wa
Stevie did this at the Taste of Chicago in 2008. Man, I can't tell you how many asses that performance kicked!!!Sean - Chicago, Il
Love this song , a real "allright , lets party" type song, a very talented guy , saw him on tele the other day , certainly has put on a lot of weightPete - Nowra, Australia
Michael McDoanld covered this song for his third album If That's What It Takes but it got cut during recording sessions. It can be found on two Mike McDonald compliations. Michael McD 4ever!Sara - Silver Spring, Md
Stevie wrote this song, played all the instruments, and had it tracked in three
hours. Electricladyland studio
Willy Mccoy - Seattle, Wa
Ok for the sake of clarity I don't if the comment by Spencer, Los Angeles, CA, was in reply to mine, but I'd just like to clear up this factual error about the song. The version by UB40 and by Stevie Wonder are totally different songs. I'll illustrate this by the lyrics: Stevie first verse and chorus:
People keep on learnin'
Soldiers keep on warrin'
World keep on turnin'
Cause it won't be too long
Powers keep on lyin'
While your people keep on dyin'
World keep on turnin'
Cause it won't be too long

I'm so darn glad he let me try it again
Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I'm so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin'
Till I reach the highest ground

By UB40:Moon and stars sit way up high
Earth and trees beneath them lie
The wind blows fragrant lullaby
To cool the night for you and i
On the wing the birds fly free
Leviathan tames angry sea
The flower waits for honeybee
The sunrise wakes new life in me.


And every hour of every day Im learning more
The more I learn, the less I know about before
The less I know, the more I want to look around
Digging deep for clues on higher ground...
Now you tell me...
Jeffrey - Paramaribo, South America
It's the same lyrics, ergo, it's a cover.Spencer - Los Angeles, Ca
dear Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England. The song 'Higher Ground' by UB40 is a vastly different song than Stevie's version. It is not a cover.Jeffrey - Paramaribo, South America
The only thing better with the RHCP version is flea on bass guitar!Yen - Colorful, Co
i prefer the red hot chili peppers cover version of this song off "Mothers Milk"Ryan - Suffolk, Ny
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