"Higher Ground" is a funk song written by Stevie Wonder which first appeared on his 1973 album Innervisions. The song reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the US Hot R&B Singles chart. Wonder wrote and recorded the song in a three-hour burst of creativity in May 1973. The album version of the song contains an extra verse and runs 30 seconds longer than the single version. The unique wah-clavinet sound in the song was achieved with a Mu-Tron III envelope filter pedal. The bass line is provided by a Moog synthesizer and using overdubs, Wonder played all instruments on the track, including drums and percussion.
The song was released in the UK but achieved only modest success, reaching number 29 in the UK Singles Chart.
The song lyrics address the issue of reincarnation. Wonder commented, when interviewed by The New York Times:
I would like to believe in reincarnation. I would like to believe that there is another life. I think that sometimes your consciousness can happen on this earth a second time around. For me, I wrote "Higher Ground" even before the accident. But something must have been telling me that something was going to happen to make me aware of a lot of things and to get myself together. This is like my second chance for life, to do something or to do more, and to value the fact that I am alive.
In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song number 265 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, adding: "'Higher Ground' was recorded just before Wonder was involved in a near-fatal accident in August 1973 that left him in a coma. Early in Wonder's recovery, his road manager sang the song's melody into the singer's ear; Wonder responded by moving his fingers with the music."
As part of the "Year of a Million Dreams" Celebration, Space Mountain at Disneyland in Anaheim, California was transformed into Rockin' Space Mountain. The song was used as its soundtrack for 16 weeks, from January 3, 2007 to April 26, 2007.
British magazine Total Guitar named it the second greatest cover ever in 2000.
^Christopher Knowles (2010). Viva Editions, ed. The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll. ISBN978-1573445641. "Milk gave the band much-needed hits with “Knock Me Down” and a cover of Stevie Wonder's “Higher Ground,” both of which worked the funk-metal vein."
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