The Hit Songs Deconstructed Wire

Penn's Picks: Gloria Gaynor – Never Can Say Goodbye



Artist: Gloria Gaynor
Song/Album: Never Can Say Goodbye / Never Can Say Goodbye
Writer(s): Clifton Davis
Year Released: 1970 (Original Version), 1975 (Gaynor Version)
Genre/Sub Genre: Pop/Disco, R&B

Written by Clifton Davis back in 1970, “Never Can Say Goodbye” was originally recorded by the Jackson 5 in 1971 before being given the full “Disco Treatment” by Gloria Gaynor in 1975. Gloria’s version is widely regarded as the “definitive” version, inspiring the Disco scene that followed.

Take Note Of This:
One of the most powerful choruses and vocal performances in the history of popular music.

Why it’s a “Penn’s Pick”:
The overall craft and arrangement of this song is phenomenal – there’s just SO MUCH going on (melody, counterpoint, strings, background vocals, “disco” drums, bass, etc…) yet they all jibe perfectly together in creating a super-infectious, memorable, powerful song. Gloria’s vocals are beyond superb (remember, there was no Auto-Tune back then) and packed with tons of emotion (I’m not even going to attempt to write about it – just listen to the song).

It’s the chorus, though, which is the real standout and the main reason why it’s a Penn’s Pick. You want to talk about a chorus that soars? Well, they don’t soar much more than this…

Overall, love or hate Disco, you’ve got to appreciate the mastery of this song.