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Motown Series – “Ain’t no mountain high enough”


Welcome back to Unity Spiritual Center!

We are coming to the end of our Summer Series on Motown Music. Unfortunately, that means summer is closing in too. We still have lots of time for fun in the sun, so let’s get started.

This week we listen to the words of Marvin Gaye & Tammie Terrell and another hit for him, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Song co-author Nickolas Ashford strolling down the streets of New York, he observed the tall skyscrapers around him; they seemed almost mountainous. He thought about how nothing, not even these great and marvelous structures, could stop his dreams. When he sat down with his wife, Valerie Simpson, to write what would become a Motown hit, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” he thought about how love can be mountainous too. While Ashford and Simpson felt they could not do the song justice vocally, several people have endeavored to perform the song. The most notable versions are the ones by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (1967), and Diana Ross (1970).  

We are focusing on the first version, Gaye & Terrell.

In their duet “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” love is clearly the main focus as they profess their devotion and commitment to one another in alternating statements. The song is deliberately slow in order to make the lyrics and message–nothing can stop love– more impactful. The slow rhythm of the song contributes to the heartfelt attitude of the singers. Terrell tells Gaye “If you need me, call me, no matter where you are, no matter how far” and Gaye croons “I told you, you could always count on me, darling.” Gaye and Terrell alternate lyrics throughout the song instead of alternating verses. This alternating structure makes the song seem almost like a conversation.

Though most of the song consists of them singing to each other, both Gaye and Terrell sing the chorus, harmonizing with each other to create a sense of intensity when delivering the most memorable lyrics of the song. This intensity helps develop the loving and passionate tone they intend to express. In the chorus, they make use of hyperbole by claiming “ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough to keep me from getting to you.” These lines convey the main point of the song: their love for each other is so strong, nothing can keep them apart. During the last verse, Terrell says, “no wind, no rain, no winters cold can stop me baby” and Gaye sings “If you’re ever in trouble, I’ll be there on the double just send for me.” Their belief in the strength of their love creates a sense of optimism and hope for the longevity of their relationship.

How can this love song be spiritual? What do you think?

I think it’s simple. It is about God’s love for us and our love for God. Much like the Song of Solomon, which Biblical scholars have interpreted various ways. Among Jews, the allegorical interpretation regards the book as an allegory of God’s love for the Israelites, with whom he has made a sacred covenant. Among Christians, the book is interpreted as describing the covenantal love of Christ for his church. In medieval mysticism, the Song of Solomon was construed to apply to the love between Christ and the human soul.

If we look at a few of the important words metaphysically, we can get another idea.

Metaphysical meaning of mountain from the Revealing Word tells us – A mountain represents an exalted state of mind where the divine plan may be perceived and unfolded; a state of spiritual realization.

The “high mountain” to which personality carries us in our spiritual uplift is the consciousness of power over mortal thought in all its earthly avenues of expression. Going up into the mountain to pray means elevating our thoughts and our aspirations to the spiritual viewpoint.

I believe going up into the mountain and coming down from the mountain are mentioned 15 times in the New Testament. Jesus goes up to pray, bringing his consciousness higher. He comes down to heal and spread the good news.

So, when we take ourselves into our higher consciousness, we are connecting to our Higher Self, our authentic self.

How often do we read or see Jesus and other spiritual people lifting their eyes…it has nothing to do with our childhood belief in heaven being in the sky?  It’s about lifting our consciousness to be aware of our closeness to God and Divine Spirit’s closeness to us.

So, this song can be seen spiritually as all qualities of God. Nothing can keep us from them, because they are within us. Nothing can keep us from God, Divine Spirit, but our own thoughts…. the mountains of our own making.

We form whatever we will according to our faith & understanding. If we are weak, maybe struggling, and we all experience struggle, the walls, mountains, even hills we build are of our own making. We can shatter them with faith, prayer, & meditation.

Chopra – “we change the world most effectively through who we are, recognizing ourselves as one with Spirit. And being that open channel, good will flow through us.”

Another important point the song makes is

If you need me, call me
No matter where you are
No matter how far (Don’t worry baby)
Just call my name
I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry

We all too often fail to reach out when we are tired, sick, maybe out of sorts. I used to call it the ‘ho-hums’ when talking with my Mother.

I am at fault too. Oh, I did ask for help each time I was laid up from the accident and the surgeries. But I’m much slower when it comes to my emotional/spiritual needs. I’m an introvert and tend to stay inside myself. Something I am working on.

How about you? Do you reach out when you need a listening heart? A helping hand?

Call. Write. Visit. Be a friend.

You know that saying, “if you want a friend, you have to be a friend”….


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