You'll Never Walk Alone

"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 protagonist Julie Jordan, sings "You'll Never Walk Alone" to comfort and encourage Julie when her husband, Billy Bigelow, the male lead, falls on his knife and dies 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.

"You'll Never Walk Alone"
GenreShow tune
Composer(s)Richard Rodgers
Lyricist(s)Oscar Hammerstein II

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 developed at Liverpool F.C. after the chart success of the 1963 single of the song by the local Liverpool group Gerry and the Pacemakers.[1]


Christine Johnson, who created the role of Nettie Fowler, introduced the song in the original Broadway production.[2] 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,[3] Frank Sinatra, Roy Orbison, Billy Eckstine, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Lee Towers, Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge, Olivia Newton-John 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.[4] After the end of a concert by the rock band Queen, the audience spontaneously sang this song, according to lead guitarist Brian May,[5] 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 9 June 1968 telecast of The Ed Sullivan Show.[6] He also covered this song in his 1964 RCA Victor album The Exciting Voice of Sergio Franchi.

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".

American singer Barbra Streisand performed this song in a surprise appearance at the close of the 2001 Emmy Awards, in honor of the victims of the September 11 attacks.[7] To mark the first anniversary of the attacks, Renée Fleming sang the song at the Concert for America.[8] Fleming sang the song again at the Inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.[9]

In 2010, the song was sung during the Last Night of the Proms, with the choir at the Royal Albert Hall in London 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.[10]

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. Vocalist/bassist Ken Casey said in a December 2016 interview discussing the reason behind their version. "As you may know, opiate overdoses are an epidemic in America now particularly in (the Boston) area. I've been to thirty wakes in two years, three this week, one being my cousin, Al's 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. I hope you like our version".

Lee Towers has been performing the song from an aerial work platform at the start of every Rotterdam Marathon since 1995.

Sporting anthem

Liverpool F.C.

"You'll Never Walk Alone"
Single by Gerry and the Pacemakers
from the album How Do You Like It
B-side"It's All Right"
ReleasedOctober 1963
Recorded2 July 1963
StudioEMI Studios, London[11]
GenreMerseybeat, baroque pop
LabelColumbia (EMI) (UK), Laurie Records (US)
Composer(s)Richard Rodgers
Lyricist(s)Oscar Hammerstein II
Producer(s)George Martin

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 football anthem of Liverpool F.C., which adopted "You'll Never Walk Alone" as its official motto on its coat of arms. The song is sung by its supporters moments before the start of each home game at Anfield with the Gerry and the Pacemakers version played over the public address system.[1][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 with Marsden stating, "Bill came up to me. He said, 'Gerry my son, I have given you a football team and you have given us a song'."[1]

Shankly 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 it 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]

In his commentary on the memorial service following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, Peter Jones recited the lyrics, which were then sung by a cathedral choir. Aretha Franklin's recording of the song was played by John Peel in his first show following the disaster, when he became too upset to carry on broadcasting for a period. In 2019, during a Take That concert at Anfield, lead singer and Liverpool fan Gary Barlow brought out a guest vocalist, Gerry Marsden – who had come out of retirement for the performance – and they sang the club's anthem “You'll Never Walk Alone”.[19]

Other teams

The song was adopted by Scottish team Celtic after a 1966 Cup Winners Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Anfield, and is now sung by Celtic fans prior to every home European tie,[1][16][20] and later by Germany's Borussia Dortmund who Liverpool went on to play in the cup final.[1]

The song has also been adopted by Dutch team FC Twente after it was officially given to them by the former Anfield stadium speaker George Septhon during the last game in the Diekman stadium, before moving to the new Arke Stadion.[21] Today, Twente fans sing the song before every home game. Elsewhere in the Netherlands, Feyenoord and SC Cambuur have adopted the song as well.

Additional football teams which now use the song include 1. FSV Mainz 05, TSV 1860 Munich, Japan's F.C. Tokyo,[22] Spain's CD Lugo,[23] Greece's PAOK and Indonesia's Bali United.[24] 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, which was a supergroup featuring Gerry Marsden, Paul McCartney and others, and spent two weeks at number one in the UK.

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.[25][26]

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,[27] 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 South Yorkshire Police were found to have distorted facts relating to the unlawful killing by negligence of 96 Liverpool supporters.[28][29][30]

On 13 March 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. Hart, Simon (October 25, 2013). "Anfield's 50 years of never walking alone". The Independent. Retrieved April 6, 2015. Gerry and the Pacemakers’ version hit No 1 in October 1963, it was picked up by the Kop and the game’s greatest anthem was born
  2. "You'll Never Walk Alone (original version 1945)". Youtube. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  3. Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 3 - The Tribal Drum: The rise of rhythm and blues. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  4. "Milestones: Retiring: Jerry Lewis", Time magazine, May 30, 2011, p. 17
  5. Interview with Tom Browne for BBC Radio One, broadcast Christmas Eve and Boxing Day 1977
  6. "SOFA Entertainment - Ed Sullivan Show".
  7. Streisand's stage fright spiked with thought of terror, By Edna Gundersen, USA Today, December 12, 2001
  8. Scott Simon (April 28, 2018). "'Carousel' Returns To Broadway". Weekend Edition Saturday. NPR. Retrieved April 30, 2018.: "SIMON: ... 'You'll Never Walk Alone' - you sang this at the Obama inauguration too, didn't you? FLEMING: Yes, and also the 9/11 memorial a year after the attacks."
  9. Gallo, Phil (January 18, 2009). "We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration". Variety. RBI. Retrieved February 8, 2009.
  10. "Last Night: Last Night of the Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London". The Independent. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  11. "Gerry's Datebook".
  12. Nik Brumsack. The story of 'You'll Never Walk Alone',, April 14, 2014.
  13. 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.
  14. Smith, Tommy. Anfield Iron, Bantam Press, p. 68-69
  15. Bill Shankly, Desert island Discs BBC, Mon April 26, 1965.
  16. Why Liverpool fans sing 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. FourFourTwo. Retrieved 10 October 2016
  17. Cavanagh, John. "The History of You'll Never Walk Alone", BBC Songlines, 2006.
  18. Morgan, John. "The Other Mersey Sound", BBC Panorama, 1964.
  19. "Take That and Gerry Marsden bring Anfield to a standstill with heartwarming You'll Never Walk Alone". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  20. Aldred, Jessica. Liverpool or Celtic: who Walked Alone first? The Guardian. March 12, 2003.
  21. Whyatt, Chris. McClaren's new charges BBC. August 13, 2008.
  22. Nagatomo tells Japan "You'll never walk alone", The mainichi Daily News. March 2011.
  23. anfieldcarro (June 30, 2011). ""You´ll never walk alone" polo Anfield Carro PUNTO PELOTA" via YouTube.
  24. Chants, North Side Boys 12. "Bali United YNWA". Youtube. Youtube. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  25. Liverpool fans inspire Spain to write words to anthem, Reuters. June 5, 2005
  26. Spain to add lyrics to wordless national anthem, NBC News. June 26, 2007.
  27. Legistrative Council Record.
  28. 香港特別行政區立法會 (October 16, 2014). "立法會會議 (2014/10/16) - IV. 立法會休會待續議案 - 根據《議事規則》第16(2)條動議的立法會休會待續議案 (第五部分)" via YouTube.
  29. "利迷聯署強烈譴責:譚耀宗勿侮辱YNWA - Yahoo奇摩新聞".
  30. Hong Kong Legislative Council Record 08:07:18 - 08:07:35
  31. Whaling, James (March 13, 2016). "Borussia Dortmund fan dies from heart attack during Bundesliga match against Mainz". Daily Mirror. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  32. John The Punk. "Welcome to The Adicts Official Website!". Archived from the original on May 4, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  33. "Cilla Black Discography: You'll Never Walk Alone (duet with Barry Manilow) – Single". Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  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 Archived April 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine 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". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  41. Columbia Catalog Number DB4816"
  42. "You'll Never Walk Alone". (Liverpool FC's Channel). Retrieved December 27, 2011.
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