Meaning of River Deep by Mountain High & The Song

The history of the song River Deep – Mountain High developed according to an amazing scenario. She was blinded from motley sketches proposed by three authors. The recording cost a fabulous sum, but the participants recalled the work process as a farce. The record contains the name of a person who had nothing to do with the track and never showed up in the studio. The composition failed in the American hit parade and forced the producer to retire for several years.

However, it has become the hallmark of the legendary Tina Turner, has been performed by several popular bands and has been included in the most famous lists of the greatest songs of all time.

History of River Deep – Mountain High

River Deep – Mountain High was born thanks to the joint efforts of the spouses Ellie Greenwich (Ellie Greenwich) and Jeff Barry (Jeff Barry), as well as producer Phil Spector (Phil Spector). This was not the first experience of their cooperation. They have previously composed several successful tracks for The Ronettes and The Crystals.

Each of the co-authors offered sketches of the text and variants of the melody of the future song. Ellie played the piano, Phil played the guitar, and Barry improvised on drums. Greenwich later recounted:

The three of us were singing all the time like crazy people. Suddenly, we stumbled upon something.

As soon as River Deep – Mountain High took shape, Spector decided that Tina Turner should perform it.

Recording of the song River Deep – Mountain High

The song was recorded at Gold Star Studios, Los Angeles. Phil Spector invited two dozen session musicians and spent about twenty-two thousand dollars, which in those days was an unthinkable amount for a single.

Ike Turner did not take part in the recording, although his name appears on the record. Phil bought him off with twenty thousand. After becoming sole producer, Spector demanded that Ike not even show up at the studio.

Bassist Carol Kaye recalled:

There was a feeling that this was another thing that would become a hit. But when you entered the booth, and there were a lot of people, and there was a crowd in the studio, it seemed that you were at a party. Ah, you know, if it’s like a party, there won’t be a hit record. When you sit down and make a record, it should not feel like that, because this is a business. You must be in business.

Darlene Love had a similar comment about the record:

It was a massive mess. Solid noise, not music. Only Phil took everything close to his heart.

Independent, 2009

Spector harassed Tina Turner with endless takes. The singer recalled:

I must have sung it five hundred thousand times. I was all wet with sweat. I had to take off my shirt and sing while standing in my bra.

Rolling stone

The recording scene of the track is featured in the biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It about the life of Tina Turner.

Only Spector liked the final result. They say that Ellie Greenwich, after hearing the recording, grabbed the plastic from the player and launched it into the wall.

Release and achievements

American music lovers the track also did not win. Released in May 1966, the single peaked at number 88 on the Billboard Hot 100. It peaked at number three on the UK chart.

Phil Spector was dejected by the composition’s failure in the US:

When she left, I thought this was my goodbye. I just said: “Goodbye” … I will never understand why it did not become a hit.

He was so disappointed that he abandoned his production activities for several years. He returned to work only in 1970, when The Beatles invited him to record the album Let It Be.

Ike Turner stated that the record did not do well on the charts because it was in the style of white pop music, and Tina’s voice was only suitable for rhythm and blues.

But the glorious history of the song was just beginning. A couple of years later, the song was released again. She again did not succeed in the American charts, but received flattering reviews and attracted the attention of famous musicians.

Cover versions

In 1968, the rock band The Animals recorded the song. Check out the music video for River Deep – Mountain High.

The composition was also performed by Neil Diamond, Darlene Love and other artists. Let’s listen to River Deep – Mountain High in the Deep Purple version.

In 1970, The Supremes and Four Tops covered River Deep – Mountain High climbed to number fourteen on Billboard. Let’s watch the music video.

Interesting Facts

  • In 1995, Phil Spector produced a Celine Dion cover version of River Deep – Mountain High, but the result was so unsuccessful that the track was not even released.
  • River Deep – Mountain High is included in the Grammy Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone and NME lists of the five hundred greatest tracks of all time.

River Deep Lyrics

When I was a little girl I had a rag doll
The only doll I’ve ever owned
Now I love you just the way I loved that rag doll
But only now my love has grown
And it gets stronger in every way
And it gets deeper let me say
And it gets higher day by day

Do I love you my oh my
River deep, mountain high
If I lost you would I cry
Oh how I love you baby, baby, baby, baby

When you were a young boy did you have a puppy
That always followed you around
Well I’m gonna be as faithful as that puppy
No I’ll never let you down
‘Cause it goes stronger like a river flows
And it gets bigger baby and heaven knows
And it gets sweeter baby as it grows


I love you baby like a flower loves the spring
And I love you baby like a robin loves to sing
And I love you baby like a schoolboy loves his pet
And I love you baby river deep mountain high


River Deep Lyrics

When I was a little girl I had a rag doll
The only doll in my life
Now I love you just like her
Only now love has become even stronger
And she grows stronger in every way
And it gets deeper, trust me
And she strives up day by day

Do I love you? Oh my God!
My love is deep like a river, high like a mountain
If I lost you, I would cry
How I love you, baby, baby, baby, baby

When you were a boy you had a puppy
Who would follow you everywhere?
So, I will be faithful to you, like that puppy
No, I will never betray you
‘Cause she’s getting stronger like a river
And she is more and more, baby, God sees,
And the stronger she is, baby, the sweeter


I love you baby like a flower loves spring
And I love you baby like a robin loves to sing
And I love you baby like a schoolboy loves his pet
My love baby is deep like a river, high like a mountain

Song quote

…a perfect record from start to finish. You couldn’t improve it.

George Harrison,

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