You'll Never Walk Alone

"You'll Never Walk Alone"
Introduced in the 1945 musical, Carousel
Song by Christine Johnson
Composer(s) Richard Rodgers
Lyricist(s) Oscar Hammerstein II
Language English

"You'll Never Walk Alone" is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. In the second act of the musical, Nettie Fowler, the cousin of the female protagonist Julie Jordan, sings "You'll Never Walk Alone" to comfort and encourage Julie when her husband, Billy Bigelow, the male lead, commits suicide after a failed robbery attempt. It is reprised in the final scene to encourage a graduation class of which Louise (Billy and Julie's daughter) is a member. The now invisible Billy, who has been granted the chance to return to Earth for one day in order to redeem himself, watches the ceremony and is able to silently motivate the unhappy Louise to join in the song.

The song is also sung at association football clubs around the world, where it is performed by a massed chorus of supporters on matchday; this tradition began at Liverpool F.C. in the early 1960s.


Christine Johnson, who created the role of Nettie Fowler, introduced the song in the original Broadway production.[1] Later in the show Jan Clayton, as Julie Jordan, reprised it, with the chorus joining in.

In the film, it is first sung by Claramae Turner as Nettie. The weeping Julie Jordan (Shirley Jones) tries to sing it but cannot; it is later reprised by Julie and those attending the graduation.

Subsequent history

Besides the recordings of the song on the Carousel cast albums and the film soundtrack, the song has been recorded by many artists, with notable hit versions made by Roy Hamilton,[2] Frank Sinatra, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Andy Williams, and Doris Day. Progressive rock group Pink Floyd took a recording by the Liverpool Kop choir, and "interpolated" it into their own song, "Fearless", on their 1971 album Meddle.

From 1964 through 2010, Jerry Lewis concluded the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day MDA Telethon by singing the song.[3] After the end of a concert by the rock band Queen, the audience spontaneously sang this song, according to lead guitarist Brian May,[4] and this helped to inspire the creation of their songs "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You". Italian-American tenor Sergio Franchi sang a notable version accompanied by the Welsh Men's Choir on the June 9, 1968 telecast of The Ed Sullivan Show.[5] He also covered this song in his 1964 RCA Victor album The Exciting Voice of Sergio Franchi.[6] American singer and songwriter Barbra Streisand sang this song in a surprise appearance at the close of the 2001 Emmy Awards, in honor of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[7]

In 1990 at the Nelson Mandela: An International Tribute for a Free South Africa concert at Wembley Stadium London, the audience spontaneously broke out into a mass rendition. Mandela turned to Adelaide Tambo who accompanied him onto the stage and asked what the song was. She replied, "A football song".

Renée Fleming sang the song at the Concert for America, which marked the first anniversary of 9/11,[8] and for the Inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.[9]

In 2010, this was sung during the festivities of the Last Night of the Proms, with the choir at the Royal Albert Hall joined by crowds of the public from Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland; Caird Hall, Dundee; Hyde Park, London; Salford, Greater Manchester; and Wales, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Oscar Hammerstein II.

In the second season of American Horror Story, this song was recited as a poem.

It has been the song of the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps song since 1954, where they first performed it as a part of their first field show in 1954. Challenged by the Rosemont Cavaliers singing "Over the Rainbow" in 1957, the corps responded with "You'll Never Walk Alone", and it has been the official corps song ever since.

Punk band Dropkick Murphys covered the song for their 2017 album 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory. "As you may know, opiate overdoses are an epidemic in America now particularly in this area (Boston). I've been to thirty wakes in two years, three this week, one being my cousin, Al lost a brother in law. It's hit home close to us. I was leaving one of the wakes and this song came on and as I was listening to the lyrics it summed up exactly how I was feeling. Sad but knowing there is hope. You never have to be alone" vocalist/bassist Ken Casey said in a December 2016 interview discussing the reason behind their version.

Sporting anthem

"You'll Never Walk Alone"
Single by Gerry and the Pacemakers
from the album How Do You Like It
Released October 1963
Recorded July 2, 1963, EMI Studios, London[10]
Length 2:40
Label Columbia (EMI) (UK)
Laurie Records (US)
Producer(s) George Martin
Gerry and the Pacemakers singles chronology
"I Like It"
"You'll Never Walk Alone"
"I'm the One"
The 'Shankly Gates' entrance to Liverpool's home stadium Anfield

In the UK, the song's most successful cover was released in 1963 by the Liverpudlian Merseybeat group Gerry and the Pacemakers, peaking at number one on the UK singles chart for four consecutive weeks. Sung by Liverpool fans in 1963, the song quickly became the anthem of Liverpool F.C. and is invariably sung by its supporters moments before the start of each home game with the Gerry and the Pacemakers version played over the PA system.[11][12][13]

According to former player Tommy Smith, lead vocalist Gerry Marsden presented Liverpool manager Bill Shankly with a recording of his forthcoming cover single during a pre-season coach trip in the summer of 1963. "Shanks was in awe of what he heard. ... Football writers from the local newspapers were travelling with our party and, thirsty for a story of any kind between games, filed copy back to their editors to the effect that we had adopted Gerry Marsden's forthcoming single as the club song."[14] The squad was subsequently invited to perform the track with the band on The Ed Sullivan Show[13] and Shankly later picked the song as his eighth and final selection for the BBC's Desert Island Discs on the eve of the 1965 FA Cup Final.[15] As Liverpool fans sang "You’ll Never Walk Alone" at Wembley during the 1965 FA Cup Final win over Leeds, commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme referred to the song as “Liverpool’s signature tune”.[16]

Marsden told BBC Radio how, in the 1960s, the disc jockey at Anfield would play the top-ten commercial records in descending order, with the number one single played last, shortly before kickoff. Liverpool fans on the Kop would sing along, but unlike with other hit singles, once "You'll Never Walk Alone" dropped out of the top-ten, instead of disregarding the song, supporters continued to sing it.[17][18]

The song was adopted by Scottish team Celtic after a 1966 Cup Winners Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Anfield.[13][16] It is now sung by Celtic fans prior to every home European tie.[13][16][19] The song has also been adopted by Dutch teams Feyenoord, FC Twente and SC Cambuur,[20] Germany's Borussia Dortmund, FSV Mainz 05, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, SV Darmstadt 98, Eintracht Braunschweig, Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfL Osnabrück, Alemannia Aachen, FC St Pauli, TSV 1860 Munich,[21] Belgium's Club Brugge, Japan's F.C. Tokyo,[22] Spain's CD Lugo.[23] and the Marist St. Pats MSP 80/80 Blues. In Ice Hockey, the song has been adopted by German Deutsche Eishockey Liga side Krefeld Pinguine and Croatian Medveščak Zagreb.

A special recording of the song was made in solidarity with Bradford City following the Valley Parade fire in 1985, when 56 spectators died and many more were seriously injured. The song was performed by The Crowd, featuring Gerry Marsden and Paul McCartney, among others.

Some years later, after witnessing a rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" at Anfield in 2007, the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, said he felt inspired to seek lyrics to his country's wordless national anthem, the Marcha Real, ahead of Madrid's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.[24][25]

During the 2014 Hong Kong protests, legislator Tam Yiu Chung quoted the song during a Legislative Council of Hong Kong meeting, to salute the Hong Kong Police,[26] who had received widespread criticism for using excessive force against pro-democracy protesters. More than 2,000 Liverpool Football Club fans in Hong Kong condemned his inappropriate use of the song, comparing his support of the police action to the police actions in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, where British Police were found to have distorted facts relating to the unlawful killing by negligence of 96 Liverpool supporters.[27][28][29]

The song was also the inspiration for Australian Football League club Port Adelaide’s use of "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS as their pre-match anthem, which is played before every AFL home game at Adelaide Oval.[30]

On March 13, 2016, after Borussia Dortmund's 2-0 win against 1. FSV Mainz 05 in the German Bundesliga, supporters of both teams performed the song to commemorate a Dortmund fan who died from a cardiac arrest in the stands during the game.[31]

Recorded versions


  1. "You'll Never Walk Alone (original version 1945)". Youtube. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  2. 1 2 Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 3 - The Tribal Drum: The rise of rhythm and blues. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles.
  3. "Milestones: Retiring: Jerry Lewis", Time magazine, May 30, 2011, p. 17
  4. Interview with Tom Browne for BBC Radio One, broadcast Christmas Eve and Boxing Day 1977
  5. DVD is not dated
  6. Streisand's stage fright spiked with thought of terror, By Edna Gundersen, USA Today, December 12, 2001
  7. Video on YouTube
  8. Gallo, Phil (January 18, 2009). "We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration". Variety. RBI. Retrieved February 8, 2009.
  9. Gerry and the Pacemakers diary
  10. Nik Brumsack. The story of 'You'll Never Walk Alone',, April 14, 2014.
  11. Liverpool vs. Leeds United on YouTube, F.A. Cup Final, BBC, 1965. "The song was covered by Liverpool group Gerry & The Pacemakers in 1963. At this time, supporters standing on the Spion Kop terrace at Anfield began singing popular chart songs of the day. The mood was captured on camera by a BBC Panorama camera crew in 1964. One year later, when Liverpool faced Leeds in the cup final, the travelling Kop sang the same song and match commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme commended the 'Liverpool signature tune'." Paul Coslett, You'll Never Walk Alone BBC Online. June 9, 2008.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Hart, Simon (25 October 2013). "Anfield's 50 years of never walking alone". The Independent. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  13. Smith, Tommy. Anfield Iron, Bantam Press, p. 68-69
  14. Bill Shankly, Desert island Discs BBC, Mon April 26, 1965.
  15. 1 2 3 Why Liverpool fans sing 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. Four Four Two. Retrieved 10 October 2016
  16. Cavanagh, John. "The History of You'll Never Walk Alone", BBC Songlines, 2006.
  17. Morgan, John. "The Other Mersey Sound", BBC Panorama, 1964.
  18. Aldred, Jessica. Liverpool or Celtic: who Walked Alone first? The Guardian. March 12, 2003.
  19. Whyatt, Chris. McClaren's new charges BBC. August 13, 2008.
  20. 1 2 Bela B. & The Tikiwolves feat. Gary 'O' Wolf: You'll Never Walk Alone (FC St. Pauli hymn) at Discogs (list of releases)
  21. Nagatomo tells Japan "You'll never walk alone", The mainichi Daily News. March 2011.
  22. "You´ll never walk alone" in Anxo Carro. Punto Pelota TV Programm
  23. Liverpool fans inspire Spain to write words to anthem, Reuters. June 5, 2005
  24. Spain to add lyrics to wordless national anthem, MSNBC. June 26, 2007.
  25. Legistrative Council Record.
  26. Hong Kong Legislative Council Record
  27. Yahoo News
  28. Hong Kong Legislative Council Record 08:07:18 - 08:07:35
  29. McGuire, Michael. "Liverpool brings its football and its famous song to Adelaide Oval". The Advertiser. News Corporation. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  30. Whaling, James (13 March 2016). "Borussia Dortmund fan dies from heart attack during Bundesliga match against Mainz". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  31. John The Punk. "Welcome to The Adicts Official Website!". Archived from the original on May 4, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  32. "Cilla Black Discography: You'll Never Walk Alone (duet with Barry Manilow) – Single". Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  33. Johnny Preston, Running Bear Retrieved September 10, 2015
  34. "Richard Rogers: You'll Never Walk Alone - Last Night of the BBC Proms 2012". BBC YouTube channel. September 8, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
  35. "Stages — Josh Groban". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  36. "Joyce contributes to highly anticipated new recording: Rogers & Hammerstein at the Movies". August 22, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
  37. Recorded for Capitol Records Judy Garland with Orchestra conducted, by Norrie Paramor, August 3, 1960.
  38. It's Raining In My Heart (LP/MC) (Goud & Platina) 1976
  39. "You'll Never Walk Alone". Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  40. Columbia Catalog Number DB4816"
  41. "You'll Never Walk Alone". (Liverpool FC's Channel). Retrieved December 27, 2011.
Preceded by
"The Things That I Used to Do" by Guitar Slim and His Band
Billboard R&B Best Sellers in Stores number-one single (Roy Hamilton version)
March 27, 1954 – May 15, 1954
Succeeded by
"Work With Me Annie" by The Midnighters
Preceded by
"Do You Love Me" by Brian Poole and The Tremeloes
UK number-one single
(Gerry & The Pacemakers version)

October 31, 1963 (four weeks)
Succeeded by
"She Loves You" by The Beatles
Preceded by
"19" by Paul Hardcastle
UK number-one single (The Crowd version)
June 9, 1985 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Frankie" by Sister Sledge
Preceded by
"Say You'll Be There" by Spice Girls
UK number-one single (Robson & Jerome version)
("What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" / "Saturday Night at the Movies" / "You'll Never Walk Alone")

November 3, 1996 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Breathe" by The Prodigy
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