For this month’s The Original Vs The Cover, we are comparing the versions of the song “Higher Ground” originally performed by Stevie Wonder and then later covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Two great artists and two very different versions so which will come out on top.
The song was written by Stevie Wonder and it came out on his 1973 album ‘Innervisions’. It went all the way to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart. It was a very successful song for Stevie and in 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #265 on the Top 500 Songs of all time. Not bad.
The song is possibly about two things. One being second chances and the other is reincarnation (which could also be considered a second chance I guess). Stevie wrote the song and recorded it in a span of 3 hours which to me is amazing. According to Stevie, he felt a sense of urgency to get it done as if something was going to happen and he needed to finish it. Just a few months later, he was in a car accident that put him in a coma for four days (3 days after the album was released).
Okay, let us get to the songs…
Stevie’s song is pure 70’s funk. It has such an awesome little groove and that unique wah sound comes from a clavinet using a Mu-Tron III pedal. What are those? Here is a picture (thanks wikipedia).