Higher Ground

Album: Innervisions (1973)
Charted: 29 4
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • 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.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 17

  • Les from UkFirstly Stevie's version is better than any cover. The song is about reincarnation as the lyrics clearly show.
  • Jules from OregonInnervisions is one of the greatest LPs of all time. Just listening to Golden Lady. If you haven't listened to the entire album, do yourself a service and do so.
  • Dave from Wheaton, IlI'd heard that the accident took away some, or all, of Stevie's sense of smell.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn 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.
  • Neal from Grand Rapids, MiThis song was in an NBA tv commercial a number of years ago.
  • Brandon from Burbank, CaThe 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.
    LOVE YOU STEVIE!!
  • Ron from Los Angeles, CaSorry....but Stevie version is the best.....PERIOD!!
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaWhat 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.
  • Sean from Chicago, IlStevie did this at the Taste of Chicago in 2008. Man, I can't tell you how many asses that performance kicked!!!
  • Pete from Nowra, AustraliaLove 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 weight
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdMichael 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!
  • Willy Mccoy from Seattle, WaStevie wrote this song, played all the instruments, and had it tracked in three
    hours. Electricladyland studio
  • Jeffrey from Paramaribo, South AmericaOk 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.

    (chorus)

    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...
  • Spencer from Los Angeles, CaIt's the same lyrics, ergo, it's a cover.
  • Jeffrey from Paramaribo, South Americadear 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.
  • Yen from Colorful, CoThe only thing better with the RHCP version is flea on bass guitar!
  • Ryan from Suffolk, Nyi prefer the red hot chili peppers cover version of this song off "Mothers Milk"
see more comments

Judas PriestSongwriter Interviews

Rob Halford, Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton talk twin guitar harmonies and explain how they create songs in Judas Priest.

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?Song Writing

Katy Perry mentions McDonald's, Beyoncé calls out Red Lobster, and Supertramp shouts out Taco Bell - we found the 10 restaurants most often mentioned in songs.

Leslie West of MountainSongwriter Interviews

From the cowbell on "Mississippi Queen" to recording with The Who when they got the wrong Felix, stories from one of rock's master craftsmen.

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.

Yacht Rock QuizFact or Fiction

Christopher Cross with Deep Purple? Kenny Loggins in Caddyshack? A Fact or Fiction all about yacht rock and those who made it.

Supertramp founder Roger HodgsonSongwriter Interviews

Roger tells the stories behind some of his biggest hits, including "Give a Little Bit," "Take the Long Way Home" and "The Logical Song."