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"
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
Songwriter(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; however Motown decided it would be better for the Jackson 5. Released as a single in 1971, it 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[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.

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.

Chart performance[edit]

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"
Released October 27, 1974 (U.S.)
Format Vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)
Recorded 1974
Genre
Length 6:19
Label MGM
Songwriter(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, re-imagined as a disco record by Gloria Gaynor in 1974, was a #9 hit on the U.S. Pop Singles chart and went to #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 #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.[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.

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
Recorded 1987
Genre Hi-NRG[21]
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)
Songwriter(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 song, which was featured on their second album, Red.

Their version reached #2 in Ireland, #4 in the UK Singles Chart, #51 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Disco chart in the U.S. The group had reached #1 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.

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[22] by Stephen Wight and as the signature tune to the 2013 British comedy series Vicious.

A music video was produced for this version of the song, directed by Andy Morahan.[23]

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1987–1988) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[24] 13
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[25] 6
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[26] 4
France (SNEP)[27] 9
Germany (Official German Charts)[28] 6
Ireland (IRMA)[29] 2
Italy (Hit Parade Italia)[30] 42
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[31] 3
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[32] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[33] 6
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[11] 15
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[34] 12
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[35] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[36] 51
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[37] 2

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[38] 84
Germany (Official German Charts)[39] 62

Isaac Hayes version[edit]

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.

Other covers[edit]

The song has been covered by many other artists, including Grant Green, Andy Williams, Junior Walker, The Supremes (in 1971), [40] Smokey Robinson (in 1973), [41] Cal Tjader, David T. Walker, The Sandpipers, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Herbie Mann, Yazz, Sheena Easton, Gerald Albright, Sonny & Cher, Westlife, The Impact of Brass and Matchstik "The Mj Tribute".

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

In 1998, Gloria Estefan included "Never Can Say Goodbye" as part of her "70's Moment Medley", recorded as a b-side for her single "Don't Let This Moment End". Other hits included in the medley were "I Thought It Took a Little Time", "If I Can't Have You", "This Time Baby" and "Don't Leave Me This Way".

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 album Heroes[42][43] and saxophonist Gerald Albright covered the song on the album Sax for Stax.[44][45] In 2009, keyboardist Bob Baldwin along with guitarist Chuck Loeb covered the song from Bob's album Lookin' Back.[46][47]

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

Frank Ocean covered this song as a medley with "Close To You" during his Blonde Tour in Summer 2017.

Television, film, and stage performances[edit]

Glee[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".[48] 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".[49] Crystal Bell of HuffPost TV described it as a "blah performance", but Kate Stanhope of TV Guide said it was "sweet and reflective".[50][51] 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.[52][53]

Samples and remixes[edit]

The Neptunes remixed "Never Can Say Goodbye" on the 2009 Michael Jackson remix album The Remix Suite.[54]

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.[55]

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).

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". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-04. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2016-05-30. 
  5. ^ Billboard. Books.google.com. 1971-12-25. p. 15. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 226. 
  7. ^ "Meco Monardo". DiscoMusic.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-28. 
  8. ^ http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/films-videos-sound-recordings/rpm/Pages/image.aspx?Image=nlc008388.6133a&URLjpg=http%3a%2f%2fwww.collectionscanada.gc.ca%2fobj%2f028020%2ff4%2fnlc008388.6133a.gif&Ecopy=nlc008388.6133a
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1975-01-18. Retrieved 2018-03-01. 
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  11. ^ a b "SA Charts 1965 - 1989 Songs M-O". South African Rock Lists. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  12. ^ "Superventas 1975". 
  13. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  14. ^ "Adult Contemporary Music Chart". Billboard. 1975-01-04. Retrieved 2016-10-04. 
  15. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 2/01/75". Tropicalglen.com. 1975-02-01. Retrieved 2016-10-04. 
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  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  21. ^ Betts, Graham (2014). Motown Encyclopedia. "Never Can Say Goodbye – The Jackson 5 [Single]": AC Publishing. ISBN 978-1-31144-154-6. 
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Garcia, Alex S. "mvdbase.com - the Communards - "Never can say goodbye"". Music Video DataBase. Retrieved November 1, 2015. 
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  27. ^ "Lescharts.com – The Communards – Never Can Say Goodbye" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
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  29. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Never Say Goodbye". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  30. ^ "Indice per Interprete: C". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
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  35. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
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  37. ^ "The Communards Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
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  41. ^ AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine (1973-06-19). "Smokey - Smokey Robinson | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-10-04. 
  42. ^ "Heroes overview". Allmusic. 
  43. ^ "Heroes : David Benoit : Concord Music Group". Concord Music Group. 
  44. ^ "Sax for Stax overview". Allmusic. 
  45. ^ "Gerald Albright - Sax for Stax". Smooth-jazz.de. 
  46. ^ "Lookin' Back overview". Allmusic. 
  47. ^ "CD Review of Bob Baldwin". Jazzreview.com. Archived from the original on 2010-07-15. 
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  49. ^ Lynch, Joseph Brannigan (February 1, 2012). "'Glee' recap: An 'Off the Wall' Tribute to MJ". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  50. ^ Bell, Crystal (January 31, 2012). "'Glee' Recap: Tribute To Michael Jackson". HuffPost TV. Huffington Post. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
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  55. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-07. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 

External links[edit]