Never Can Say Goodbye

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"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Never Can Say Goodbye - Jackson 5.jpg
Single by Jackson 5
from the album Maybe Tomorrow
B-side"She's Good"
ReleasedMarch 16, 1971 (1971-03-16) (U.S.)
RecordedJune 1970
StudioHitsville West (Los Angeles, CA)
Songwriter(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; however, Motown decided it would be better for the Jackson 5. It was the first single released from the group's 1971 album Maybe Tomorrow, and was one of the group's most successful records. It has been covered numerous times, most notably in 1974 by Gloria Gaynor and in 1987 by British pop group The Communards.

The Jackson 5 original version[edit]

The recording features 12-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 for three consecutive weeks on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, stuck behind Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" (May 8–22, 1971), and a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in the United States.[1] In the United Kingdom, it reached number 33 on the UK Singles Chart.

Notable televised performances of the song by the Jackson 5 (and their newer incarnation, The Jacksons) include:

In addition, the song appeared on the animated TV show The Jackson 5ive in the episode "A Rare Pearl", which aired on January 15, 1972.

This version appears in the 1994 movie Crooklyn and on the second volume of its soundtrack album.


Isaac Hayes version[edit]

"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Single by Issac Hayes
from the album Black Moses
B-side"I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)"
ReleasedApril 1971 (U.S.)
  • 5:07 (original album version)
  • 3:32 (7-inch single version)
Songwriter(s)Clifton Davis
Producer(s)Isaac Hayes
Issac Hayes singles chronology
"Ike's Mood I"
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
"Theme from Shaft"

Isaac Hayes first recorded the song for his 1971 album Black Moses. Released as a single, this version reached number five on the Billboard R&B chart, number 19 on the Easy Listening chart, and number 22 on the Hot 100. Hayes re-recorded the tune for the soundtrack of 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 Mac and Hayes, who both died before the project was released.

Gloria Gaynor version[edit]

"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Never Can Say Goodbye - Gloria Gaynor.jpg
Single by Gloria Gaynor
from the album Never Can Say Goodbye
B-side"We Just Can't Make It"
ReleasedOctober 27, 1974 (U.S.)
  • 6:19 (original album version)
  • 2:58 (7-inch single version)
Songwriter(s)Clifton Davis
Gloria Gaynor singles chronology
"Honey Bee"
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
"Reach Out, I'll Be There"

A major version by Gloria Gaynor, re-imagined as a disco record in 1974, was a number-nine hit on the U.S. Pop Singles chart and went to number 34 on the Soul Singles chart.[6] The Gloria Gaynor version became one of the defining recordings of the disco era. Indeed, her version peaked at number two in the United Kingdom during January 1975, and number three 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.[7]

Gaynor's cover has the distinction of occupying the number-one spot on the first Dance/Disco chart to appear in Billboard magazine. Never Can Say Goodbye was also the title of Gaynor's debut album on which the single appeared.

Gaynor has re-recorded the song on more than one occasion, in increasingly fast tempos, and subsequent remixes have hit the dance charts.

Gaynor's version of the song was heard on the TV series Charmed ("That '70s Episode"), and is featured on the video game series Just Dance 2015.


The Communards version[edit]

"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Never Can Say Goodbye by The Communards standard artwork.jpeg
Artwork for standard release
Single by the Communards
from the album Red
  • "'77, The Great Escape" (7-inch)
  • "Tomorrow" (Remix) (U.S. 12-inch)
  • 4:30 (7-inch 45 RPM)
  • 4:53 (Album Version)
  • 7:50 (12-inch single)
Songwriter(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 band the Communards had a hit with a hi-NRG cover of the song, which was featured on their second album, Red.

Their version reached number one in Spain and number two in Ireland, number four on the UK Singles Chart, number 51 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and 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 cover was also a top 10 hit in several European countries and New Zealand.

A music video was produced for this version of the song, directed by Andy Morahan.[22]

The Communards version of the song was used as the signature tune to the 2013 British comedy series Vicious.


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1987–1988) Peak
Australia (Australian Music Report)[23] 13
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[24] 6
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[25] 4
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[26] 7
France (SNEP)[27] 9
Ireland (IRMA)[28] 2
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[29] 3
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[30] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[31] 6
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[11] 15
Spain (AFYVE)[32] 1
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[33] 12
UK Singles (OCC)[34] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[35] 51
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[36] 2
West Germany (Official German Charts)[37] 6

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1987) Position
UK Singles (OCC)[38] 51
Chart (1988) Position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[39] 84
Germany (Official German Charts)[40] 62

Other versions[edit]

Other artists who have covered the song include:

Television, film, and stage performances[edit]


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".[49] 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".[50] Crystal Bell of HuffPost TV described it as a "blah performance", but Kate Stanhope of TV Guide said it was "sweet and reflective".[51][52] 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.[53][54]

Samples and remixes[edit]

The Neptunes remixed "Never Can Say Goodbye" on the 2009 Michael Jackson remix album The Remix Suite.[55]

Astro rapped over the song on a 2011 episode of The X Factor USA.

In 2012, Wu-Tang Clan rapper Raekwon released his cover version of the song in which he raps over the instrumental.[56]

In popular culture[edit]

While appearing on The Hollywood Squares Clifton Davis sang a bit of the song a capella and then was asked who wrote the song. His answer was "I did" to which the contestant agreed (and was correct).


"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]


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External links[edit]