Never Can Say Goodbye

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Gloria Gaynor album, see Never Can Say Goodbye (Gloria Gaynor album). For the Joey DeFrancesco album, see Never Can Say Goodbye: The Music of Michael Jackson.
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Single by Jackson 5
from the album Maybe Tomorrow
B-side "She's Good"
Released March 16, 1971 (U.S.)
Format Vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)
Recorded June 1970
Hitsville West, Los Angeles, CA
Genre Soul
Length 2:58
Label Motown
Writer(s) Clifton Davis
Producer(s) Hal Davis
Jackson 5 singles chronology
"Mama's Pearl"
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
"Maybe Tomorrow"

"Never Can Say Goodbye" is a song written by Clifton Davis and originally recorded by The Jackson 5. The song was originally written and intended for the Supremes to record; however Motown decided the song would be better for the Jackson 5. Released as a single in 1971, it was one of the group's most successful songs. The song has been covered numerous times, most notably in 1974 by disco diva Gloria Gaynor and in 1987 by British pop group The Communards.

The Jackson 5[edit]

The recording features 11-year-old Michael Jackson singing a serious song about a love, with accompaniment from his brothers. Although such a record was unusual for a teenage group, "Never Can Say Goodbye" was a number-two hit on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and a number-one hit on the Billboard Black Singles chart in the United States.[1] In the United Kingdom, it reached number thirty-three on the UK Singles Chart. An alternate version (live performance from 1971 with an extra part added to it) appears on the Jackson 5 CD "I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters" released in 2009.

Chart performance[edit]

Gloria Gaynor version[edit]

"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Single by Gloria Gaynor
from the album Never Can Say Goodbye
B-side "We Just Can't Make It"
Released November 13, 1974 (U.S.)
Format Vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)
Recorded 1974
Genre Soul, disco
Length 3:00 (7" version), 6:19 (album version)
Label MGM Records
Writer(s) Clifton Davis
Producer(s) Jay Ellis, Meco Monardo, Tony Bongiovi, Harold Wheeler
Gloria Gaynor singles chronology
"Honey Bee"
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Reach Out, I'll Be There"

A second major version, reimagined as a disco record by Gloria Gaynor in 1974, was a number-nine hit on the U.S. Pop Singles chart and went to number thirty-four on the Soul Singles chart.[5] The Gloria Gaynor version became one of the defining recordings of the disco era. Indeed, her version peaked at #2 in the UK during January 1975, and #3 in Canada, surpassing the Jackson Five's original recording in those nations.

Gaynor's cover, released on MGM records, was produced by the Disco Corporation of America, a production company newly formed by Meco Monardo and Tony Bongiovi to which Gaynor was signed. Also working on this production were Jay Ellis and Harold Wheeler.[6]

Though perhaps best known for her 1978/1979 hit "I Will Survive", Gaynor's version of "Never Can Say Goodbye" has the distinction of occupying the number-one spot on the very first Dance/Disco chart ever to appear in Billboard magazine. Never Can Say Goodbye was also the title of Gaynor's debut album on which the single appeared.

The Newark, New Jersey, native has re-recorded the song on more than one occasion, in increasingly Hi-NRG tempos, and subsequent remixes have hit the dance charts.

Chart performance[edit]

The Communards version[edit]

"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Single by The Communards
from the album Red
B-side "'77, The Great Escape" (7")
"Tomorrow" [Remix] (U.S. 12")
Released 1987 (International release)
Format Vinyl record (7" 45) (12" single) CD Maxi Single
Genre Pop, dance, club
Length 4:30 (7" 45 RPM)
4:53 (Album Version)
7:50 (12" single)
7:50 and 5:35 (CD Maxi single)
Label London Records (UK) / MCA Records (U.S.) / Metronome (Germany)
Writer(s) Clifton Davis
Producer(s) Stephen Hague
Remix and additional production by Shep Pettibone
The Communards singles chronology
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
"For a Friend"

In 1987, British pop band The Communards had a hit with a pop-dance cover of the Clifton Davis classic, which was featured on their second album, Red.

Their version reached number four in the UK Singles Chart, number 51 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Dance/Disco chart in the U.S. The group had reached number one on those charts covering another 1970s classic, "Don't Leave Me This Way", in 1986.

The Communards version was also featured in the episode "Father's Day", which was set in 1987, in the first series of the revived Doctor Who. It also could be heard in the final episode of Whites, featuring a dance number [1] by Stephen Wight and recently as the signature tune to the British comedy series Vicious.

Other covers[edit]

The song was covered by a number of artists, including Isaac Hayes, Grant Green, Andy Williams, Junior Walker, The Supremes (in 1971) ,[11] Smokey Robinson (in 1973) ,[12] Cal Tjader, David T. Walker, The Sandpipers, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Herbie Mann, Yazz, Sheena Easton, Vanessa Williams, Gerald Albright, Sonny & Cher, David Benoit, Westlife, The Impact of Brass and Matchstik "The Mj Tribute".

Isaac Hayes recorded the song in 1971 and re-recorded it for the 2008 film Soul Men, in which he appears alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac. The film's producers dedicated the 2008 version to both Mac and Hayes, who both died before the project was released.

In 2008, pianist David Benoit recorded a version for his covers-packed album "Heroes"[13][14] and saxophonist Gerald Albright covered the song on the album "Sax for Stax."[15][16] In 2009, keyboardist Bob Baldwin along with guitarist Chuck Loeb covered the song from Bob's album "Lookin' Back."[17][18]

In 2010, Chinese singer Olivia Ong recorded a bossa nova based cover on her Olivia album.

Guitarist Zachary Breaux covered the song on his 1997 album, Uptown Groove, and the final studio album released before his untimely death the following month.

The Astronomical Kid sampled the song in a performance during The X Factor USA

Dianna Agron covered the song in 2012 during the eleventh episode of the third season of the American musical television series Glee, entitled "Michael". The performance received mostly positive reviews. Jen Chaney of The Washington Post gave the song a "B−", and said it "worked much better than every track that preceded it" because it adapted the song to the show "instead of trying to out-Jackson Jackson".[19] Entertainment Weekly '​s Joseph Brannigan Lynch called it "a nice summation of her character's journey, but not vocally impressive enough to justify listening to outside of the episode" and gave it a "B".[20] Crystal Bell of HuffPost TV described it as a "blah performance", but Kate Stanhope of TV Guide said it was "sweet and reflective".[21][22] Erica Futterman of Rolling Stone wrote that it was "a tune well-suited for Quinn's sultry voice and the flipped meaning she gives the lyrics", and TVLine '​s Michael Slezak had a similar take: he gave it an "A" and called it a "remarkably lovely fit" for her voice.[23][24]

In 2012, Wu-Tang Clan rapper Raekwon released his cover version of the song in which he raps over the instrumental.[25]

In popular culture[edit]

The Neptunes remixed Never Can Say Goodbye on the album The Remix Suite (2009).


Never Can Say Goodbye was originally copyrighted on June 10, 1970 [EU0000187089] and then was copyrighted again on December 21, 1970 [EP0000281027]

The Jackson 5[edit]

Gloria Gaynor[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 287. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1971/Top 100 Songs of 1971". 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 226. 
  6. ^ Meco Monardo and the Disco Sound of the 1970s
  7. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1975/Top 100 Songs of 1975". Retrieved 2014-07-03. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Whosampled". 
  12. ^ "Allmusic". 
  13. ^ "Heroes overview". 
  14. ^ "Heroes : David Benoit : Concord Music Group". Concord Music Group. 
  15. ^ "Sax for Stax overview". 
  16. ^ "Gerald Albright - Sax for Stax". 
  17. ^ "Lookin' Back overview". 
  18. ^ "CD Review of Bob Baldwin". 
  19. ^ Chaney, Jen (January 31, 2012). "'Glee' by the musical numbers: Maxing out on Michael Jackson". The Washington Post (Katharine Weymouth). Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  20. ^ Lynch, Joseph Brannigan (February 1, 2012). "'Glee' recap: An 'Off the Wall' Tribute to MJ". Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc.). Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  21. ^ Bell, Crystal (January 31, 2012). "'Glee' Recap: Tribute To Michael Jackson". HuffPost TV (Huffington Post). Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  22. ^ Stanhope, Kate (January 31, 2012). "Glee '​s Promising Road to Graduation Begins". TV Guide. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  23. ^ Futterman, Erica (February 1, 2012). "'Glee' Recap: A Tribute Worthy of a King". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  24. ^ Slezak, Michael (January 31, 2012). "Glee Recap: A Thriller of a Night!". TVLine. Media. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  25. ^ "". 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye
Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles number-one single (The Jackson 5 version)
May 1, 1971 – May 15, 1971
Succeeded by
"Bridge over Troubled Water" by Aretha Franklin
Preceded by
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (Gloria Gaynor version)
October 26, 1974 – November 16, 1974
Succeeded by
"Express" by B.T. Express