“You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers
Unlike many similarly-natured songs, the addressee of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” does not come off as being depressed per se. In fact whether or not he or she is going through a hard time in the present moment is kinda beside the point. For whenever life takes this individual “through a storm”, the vocalist will be there for him or her regardless.
Indeed in the pre-chorus, the singer is actually encouraging the addressee to pursue his or her dreams. That is because when they experience hardships as a result, which they inevitably will, the narrator will always have his or her back.
Or as he puts it, the addressee will never be a position where they are ‘walking alone’. That is to say that they have the never-wavering support of the vocalist.
Key Sentiment of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
So again, this isn’t so much one of those ‘when you’re down, I’ll be there for you’ kinds of songs. Rather the sentiment being expressed is more like ‘do your thing, and when you face hardship along the way, I have your back’.
That’s why for instance this tune is so applicable as a football anthem. The players on the field are trying to achieve a goal (no pun intended), and the supporters want them to know that they are there for them, every step of the way.
And the lyrics also serve as a general form of encouragement even beyond the singer affirming that he supports the addressee. For he also wants this person to know that although pursuing a certain ambition may be arduous, at the end of the road, there lies success.
As such said individual should not “be afraid of the dark”, i.e. venturing out into the unknown, so to speak, in pursuit of his or her ambitions.
So at the end of the day, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is actually a song of encouragement. Success lies ahead for the person the lyrics are being relayed to, if he or she can persist.
And in recognition of the struggle ahead, the vocalist himself will serve as a source of never-ending support to said individual(s).
Who wrote “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
The writers of this song were Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960). Together, these writers formed a famous songwriting/theatrical duo known as Rodgers & Hammerstein.
And they wrote this great classic for one of their Broadway musicals, “Carousel”, which came out in 1945.
Gerry and the Pacemakers’ Version
Due to its timeless message contained therein, as will be expounded on later, this song has been covered by many legendary musicians. But oddly enough out of all of them it is a cover by a relatively-obscure band known as Gerry and the Pacemakers which by far holds the distinction of being the most widely-known.
Gerry and the Pacemakers were a group formed in Liverpool in 1956. You may notice that as being the same location and time period from which another famous British quartet, The Beatles, originated.
In fact as with The Beatles, both Brain Epstein (1934-1967) and Sir George Martin (1926-2016) were involved in the development of the Pacemakers.
However, Gerry Marsden (1942-2021) and the boys never proved quite as popular as the Fab Four, although they did have their own fair share of notable hits.
For instance, they were the first musical act in history whose first three singles all topped the UK Singles Chart. And the third amongst them was “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, which held down the top position for four weeks straight.
During its original going the tune also reached number one in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and re-charted in Ireland, peaking at number four, in 2012.
Anthem of Liverpool Football Club
But even more importantly in terms of this song’s notoriety was it being adopted by the internationally-known Liverpool Football Club as the team’s anthem.
Indeed the phrase “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is inscribed on the team’s official coat of arms. And it still stands as such even some 60 years after this song was first released.
Tommy Smith (1945-2019), a long-tenured player at Liverpool, has put forth that Gerry Marsden (1942-2021) himself presented Bill Shankly (1913-1981), Liverpool’s coach at the time this song was released, with a recording of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
Apparently Marsden didn’t do so thinking he would actually adopt it as the club’s anthem but just for Shankly to give it a listen and offer his opinion. But backed by some media hyping, that’s what happened – it ultimately ended up being adopted by the club.
Or more specifically even after the tune fell out of rotation at Liverpool’s stadium, fans still insisted on reciting it regardless. And just to note, outside of being used on behalf of Liverpool it was a personal favorite of Bill Shankly’s.
Indeed one of the entrances into Anfield, Liverpool’s stadium, is known as Shankly Gate. And inscribed at the top of the fence, once again, are the words “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone” adopted by other Teams
There are also a vast number of other European soccer teams, such as Celtic and FC Twente, who are on record as having utilized or outright adopting this song themselves.
It has also been used by a few ice hockey teams and even FC Tokyo, a soccer club from Japan.
Success of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
As noted earlier, Gerry and the Pacemakers’ rendition of this classic reached the pinnacle of the UK Singles Chart when it first came out. And Gerry was able to do so again, in 1985. This was when he performed it as part of a supergroup which featured, most prominently, Paul McCartney.
They did so in light of a disaster known as the Bradford City stadium fire which transpired that year.
And given the nature of the tune, yes, it has been utilized in such a supportive capacity a number of times.
For instance, another football-related tragedy known as the Hillsborough disaster witnessed this song being used. It was recited by broadcaster Peter Jones (1930-1990) in the subsequent memorial service.
More Interesting Facts about “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
Another interesting story surrounding “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is that it was actually used by a Chinese politician. He used in support of the Hong Kong Police during the Umbrella Revolution which swept the city in 2014.
Him doing so pissed off a sizable number of Liverpool fans, who were also reminded of some sheisty police actions during the aforementioned Hillsborough disaster.
Other artists who have charted by covering “You’ll Never Walk Alone” include the following:
- Frank Sinatra (1945)
- Patti Labelle & The Blue Belles (1964)
- Elvis Presley (1968)
- Brooklyn Bridge (1969)
- Michael Ball & Captain Tom Moore (2020)
The Michael Ball and Tom Moore version also scored a number one on the UK Singles Chart. In fact they did so just a few days shy of Sir Tom Moore’s (1920-2021), a World War II veteran, 100th birthday.
And in doing so, Tom Moore became the oldest person ever to have a UK Singles Chart number one.
And other notable artists who have dropped their own renditions include the below:
- Judy Garland
- Ray Orbison
- Aretha Franklin (1972)
- Olivia Newton-John (1989)
- Lana Del Rey (2020)
- Marcus Mumford (2020)
- Brittany Howard alongside Chris Martin
Howard and Martin did so during the 2021 Grammy Awards in honor of Gerry Marsden, who had just passed away in January of that year.
Additionally a recording of Liverpool fans chanting this song is interpolated into the 1971 Pink Floyd tune “Fearless”.
It also seems that an official music video to the Pacemakers’ version was eventually uploaded onto YouTube. Albeit it was as late as 2013 and features fans reciting the song.