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Jackson 5 - Never Can Say Goodbye
July 21, 2009
Jackson 5, Never Can Say Goodbye, Maybe Tomorrow
Sometimes, happenstance plays an importance part in the making of hit records. Producer Hal Davis was in his Los Angeles office at Motown Records when he heard a catchy melody being played on a piano in the next room. Investigating, he found aspiring songwriter Clifton Davis who'd come to the label to shop his song "Never Can Say Goodbye" to its publishing firm, Jobete Music. Expressing interest in recording the song, Clifton was happily taken aback when Hal told him that he'd produced the Jackson 5's R&B/ pop chart-topper "I'll Be There." Producer Davis booked a recording session for that night, assembling such first-call talent as guitarist David T. Walker, Art Wright, drummer Gene Pello, bassist Bob West, and pianist Joe Sample of the Crusaders, some of whom had played on some of the J-5's biggest hits. The beautiful arrangement by Gene Page perfectly fits the quiet, introspective tone of the lyrics. It was also a very "grown up" ballad for the group and to some extent balanced out their " bubblegum soul" image. Amazing as it sounds, there was some dissent in the label's A&R department, with some thinking the record would blow a good thing by alienating the group's massive teen following. Luckily label founder Berry Gordy intervened and "Never Can Say Goodbye" topped the R&B charts for three weeks in spring 1,971. Clifton also wrote another number one R&B hit for the Jackson 5, "Lookin' Through the Windows," and starred in the TV sitcoms That's My Mama and Amen.