Never Can Say Goodbye

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This article is about the song. For the album by Gloria Gaynor, see Never Can Say Goodbye (Gloria Gaynor album). For the album by Joey DeFrancesco, 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 (1971-03-16) (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"
(1970)
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
(1971)
"Maybe Tomorrow"
(1971)

"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 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 #2 hit for three consecutive weeks on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, stuck behind Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" (May 8-May 22, 1971), and a #1 hit on the Billboard Black Singles chart in the United States.[1] In the United Kingdom, it reached #33 on the UK Singles Chart. An alternate version (live performance on Flip Wilson Show from 1971 with an extra part added to it) appears on the Jackson 5 CD "I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters" released in 2009. The song was performed on the Flip Wilson Show (4 November 1971), The Jackson 5 Show (5th November, 1972), TUPI (1974), One More Time (10 January 1974), Johnny Carson Show (4th April, 1974), Cher Show (16 March 1975) and The Jacksons TV Series (7th July, 1976).

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 October 27, 1974 (U.S.)
Format Vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)
Recorded 1974
Genre
Length 6:19
Label MGM
Writer(s) Clifton Davis
Producer(s)
Gloria Gaynor singles chronology
"Honey Bee"
(1974)
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
(1974)
Reach Out, I'll Be There"
(1975)

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.

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

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 Hi-NRG[14]
Length 4:30 (7" 45 RPM)
4:53 (Album Version)
7:50 (12" single)
7:50 and 5:35 (CD Maxi single)
Label London (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
"Tomorrow"
(1987)
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
(1987)
"For a Friend"
(1988)

In 1987, British band The Communards had a hit with a Hi-NRG 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[15] by Stephen Wight and recently[specify] as the signature tune to the British comedy series Vicious.

A music video was commissioned for this version of the song, directed by Andy Morahan.[16]

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) ,[17] Smokey Robinson (in 1973) ,[18] Cal Tjader, David T. Walker, The Sandpipers, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Herbie Mann, Yazz, Sheena Easton, Gerald Albright, Sonny & Cher, David Benoit, Westlife, The Impact of Brass and Matchstik "The Mj Tribute".

Isaac Hayes first recorded the song for his 1971 album Black Moses. Released as a single, this version reached #5 on the Billboard R&B chart, #19 on the Easy Listening chart, and #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 both Mac and Hayes, who both died before the project was released.

Vanessa Williams covered the song for her 2005 studio album Everlasting Love. Her version features George Benson.

In 2008, pianist David Benoit recorded a version for his covers-packed album "Heroes"[19][20] and saxophonist Gerald Albright covered the song on the album "Sax for Stax."[21][22] In 2009, keyboardist Bob Baldwin along with guitarist Chuck Loeb covered the song from Bob's album "Lookin' Back."[23][24]

In 2010, Singapore singer Olivia Ong recorded a cover on her album Olivia.

Guitarist Zachary Breaux covered the song on his 1997 album, Uptown Groove, which was his final studio album released before his death one month later after the album's release.

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".[25] 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".[26] Crystal Bell of HuffPost TV described it as a "blah performance", but Kate Stanhope of TV Guide said it was "sweet and reflective".[27][28] 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.[29][30]

In 2012, Wu-Tang Clan rapper Raekwon released his cover version of the song in which he raps over the instrumental.[31]

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).
  • The Jackson 5 version appears in the 1994 movie Crooklyn and on the second volume of its soundtrack album.
  • Nicole Kidman sings a few lines of the song in the animated film Happy Feet (2006).
  • Will Ferrell sang the song on the first episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.
  • The Gloria Gaynor version of the song was heard on the TV series Charmed ("That 70's Episode").
  • Jorge Núñez sang the song on the top 13 show on American Idol season 8.
  • J Xavier sampled the Jackson 5 version for his single, "I Love My Music".
  • The song is the theme for the 2013 British comedy show Vicious (TV series)
  • The Gloria Gaynor version is confirmed to appear in Just Dance 2015.

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

Personnel[edit]

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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 287. 
  2. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. 
  3. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1971/Top 100 Songs of 1971". 
  4. ^ http://50.6.195.142/archives/70s_files/1971YESP.html
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 226. 
  6. ^ "Meco Monardo". DiscoMusic.com. 
  7. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002]
  8. ^ http://www.billboard.com/charts/adult-contemporary/1975-01-04
  9. ^ http://tropicalglen.com/Archives/70s_files/19750201.html
  10. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992"
  11. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. 
  12. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1975/Top 100 Songs of 1975". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2014-07-03. 
  13. ^ http://50.6.195.142/archives/70s_files/1977YESP.html
  14. ^ Betts, Graham (2014). Motown Encyclopedia. "Never Can Say Goodbye – The Jackson 5 [Single]": AC Publishing. ISBN 978-1-31144-154-6. 
  15. ^ http://www.hulu.com/watch/246531/whites-episode-6
    Sorry, currently our video library can only be watched from within the United States
    Hulu is committed to making its content available worldwide. To do so, we must work through a number of legal and business issues, including obtaining international streaming rights. Know that we are working to make this happen and will continue to do so. Given the international background of the Hulu team, we have both a professional and personal interest in bringing Hulu to a global audience.
  16. ^ Garcia, Alex S. "mvdbase.com - the Communards - "Never can say goodbye"". Music Video DataBase. Retrieved November 1, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Whosampled". 
  18. ^ "Allmusic". 
  19. ^ "Heroes overview". Allmusic.com. 
  20. ^ "Heroes : David Benoit : Concord Music Group". Concord Music Group. 
  21. ^ "Sax for Stax overview". Allmusic.com. 
  22. ^ "Gerald Albright - Sax for Stax". Smooth-jazz.de. 
  23. ^ "Lookin' Back overview". Allmusic.com. 
  24. ^ "CD Review of Bob Baldwin". Jazzreview.com. 
  25. ^ Chaney, Jen (January 31, 2012). "'Glee' by the musical numbers: Maxing out on Michael Jackson". The Washington Post. Katharine Weymouth. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  26. ^ Lynch, Joseph Brannigan (February 1, 2012). "'Glee' recap: An 'Off the Wall' Tribute to MJ". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  27. ^ Bell, Crystal (January 31, 2012). "'Glee' Recap: Tribute To Michael Jackson". HuffPost TV. Huffington Post. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  28. ^ Stanhope, Kate (January 31, 2012). "Glee's Promising Road to Graduation Begins". TV Guide. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  29. ^ Futterman, Erica (February 1, 2012). "'Glee' Recap: A Tribute Worthy of a King". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  30. ^ Slezak, Michael (January 31, 2012). "Glee Recap: A Thriller of a Night!". TVLine. Mail.com Media. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  31. ^ "xclusiveszone.net". 

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
none
Billboard Disco Action number-one single (Gloria Gaynor version)
October 26, 1974 – November 16, 1974
Succeeded by
"Express" by B.T. Express