Covers In The Key Of Life

I hope this black cat doesn't bring me seven years of bad covers.

I hope this black cat doesn’t bring me seven years of bad covers.

Good Monday morning, everyone!  Did you leave a wake up call for another totally rad song refab?  Wait, don’t hit that snooze button just yet!  It’s time for The Nest to raid the merry olde music box and pull out another sick disc in our Top 30 Cover Songs of All Time countdown!  Our parliament of ponehs are about ready to bring down the mothership of funk to help shake off those cranial cobwebs with a little music that’s prime for getting down!  The future’s so bright, DJ Scratchy’s gotta wear shades…


#9. “Higher Ground” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

If you have an eardrum that can pick up music, then chances are you’ve heard of a gentleman named Stevie Wonder.  Stevie Wonder was writing and recording music at an age when you were probably still picking your nose and wiping it under the school desk.  Little Stevie Wonder, as he was known when he signed his first recording contract before becoming a teenager, has been making some of the best R&B music in the business for the past five decades plus despite the fact that he’s never seen a single royalty check in his life… or seen anything else for that matter.

You don't have to be able to see to understand music.

You don’t have to be able to see to understand music.

Stevie’s list of hit songs over the years could fill up a week’s worth of blog posts.  But I just called to say that the song we’re going to focus on today is Wonder’s 1973 #4 hit “Higher Ground.”  The song deals with the concept of reincarnation… which is ironic not only because Stevie wound up in a near-fatal auto accident just a few months after the song was released that left him in a coma, but also because musical reincarnation is kinda the whole concept behind this countdown in the first place…

It's a much better idea than reincarnating possums.

It’s a much better idea than reincarnating possums.

Enter one of the pioneering bands in the alternative sound of the 90’s, The Red Hot Chileh Chili Peppers.  Before they broke out with their smash hit “Under the Bridge” in 1991, they were releasing a lot of music that wasn’t making it into the mainstream in the 80’s, and one of their final singles of the decade was a much more up-tempo version of the funk masterpiece “Higher Ground.”

With all due respect to Stevie, THAT is a killer jam.  The Chili Peppers took this song to the higher ground that the original just didn’t quite reach…

raccoon guru

I have achieved enlightenment through Flea.

I doubt Stevie Wonder will be overjoyed should he end up reading this on his braille tablet, but we’ll give the master blaster some credit.  Nobody will ever top his renditions of “Sir Duke” or “Part Time Lover,” and though The Nest loves the Stevie Ray Vaughan cover of “Superstition,” we still score that a slight win for the original… sorry SRV.

Just about every Stevie except this one got caught in the crossfire of Superstition.

Just about every musical Stevie except this one got caught in the crossfire of Superstition.

But Stevie W. will never, ever have the greatest song named “I Wish“….

Stevie Wonder's bodyguard is not amused.

Stevie Wonder’s bodyguard is not amused.

Are you ready for the Elite Eight, August Madness style?  Come back next week for another most excellent cover that’s guaranteed to bust your bracket…


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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17 Responses to Covers In The Key Of Life

  1. yay for the red hot chileh peppers! I’m with you,I like it much much more than Stevie’s version. It starts with such a weird instrument what sounds like a frog (clavinet?) and it feels like nothing would fit together… so paws up for a super cover version!

  2. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Finally, a good one! 😀

  3. fanrosa says:

    This one is a struggle, I really like just about everything RHCP and I really dislike just about everything Wonder. So I guess it’s a draw…?

    For no reason whatsoever I was thinking about Steve the other day and came to the conclusion that there are only two SW jams that I really like, Sir Duke (my bff had the .45 of this to play on her portable hi-fi BITD) and Boogie On, Reggae Woman (I had the .45 of this to play on my dad’s actual turntable).

  4. Mental Mama says:

    I actually cannot stand Red Hot Chili Nightmare. I think their music is horrid. I’m actually not all that fond of Stevie either, but at least he was tolerable.

    • RHCP is give or take for me… and this is obviously one of their songs I’ll gladly take. I’m surprised this is the second Stevie meh, though. I thought it was unAmerican to not like Stevie Wonder…

      • Mental Mama says:

        You know, I can’t even tell you what it is about him that I’m not fond of. Maybe it is just a “meh” kind of thing. I can say this, if I’m listening to a radio station that plays his music and one of his songs comes on I’m not likely to change the station because of it. RHCP, on the other hand, I will change the station, rip the stereo out of the dash, light it on fire, and bury the ashes in a Port-a-potty.

  5. Trisha says:

    The turntable in my brain refused to pull up any Stevie Wonder songs and kept getting stuck on Higher Love by Steven Winwood, and I knew the Chili Peppers wouldn’t remake that one! I had to hit You Tube to try to jog my memory of ol’ Stevie. I actually like both versions of this song. Thinking about how long the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around makes me feel really, really old though!

    • I had no clue they were together for much of the 80’s… and since I largely tuned out music during the early 90’s, I didn’t even discover who the band was until many years after they hit it big.

  6. gentlestitches says:

    Go Fleah! A lot of musical talent has come out of Oz considering the small population. New Zealand too. 😀

  7. Maybe I just grew out of a lot of music from back then. I’m pretty sure I really like Stevie Wonder during his halcyon days, but I can’t remember the last time I listened to anything of his. Just slipped away. The other stuff … I think it just zipped past me. I was never really a serious pop music fan, always at least five years behind the cool kids. By the time I was discovering something, everyone else had long since moved on. Story of my life 🙂

    • I quit listening to pop music around 1990, and didn’t start listening again fo another decade. I did manage to catch up on a lot of 90’s stuff, but it’s not really one of the finest eras in rock history…

  8. markbialczak says:

    Sorry, Bill, I gotta put a sock on your enthusiasm for the cover with this one. Stevie’s ‘Higher Ground’ beats the Chilleh Peppers in my book. Give me his screaming soul this time around, pretty hot in its own right, I have to tell you.

    • I expected this… and I’m not going to argue with anyone who prefers the Stevie version. I got a similar reaction from another online friend when I once mentioned that I thought the RHCP version had more energy. If cyber looks could kill. I guess tempo isn’t everything…

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