Behind the Song: “Never My Love”

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

Unrequited devotion and possibly the best-repeating riff in a love song ever

By Caroline Paone

The Association’s timeless ode to the relationship, “Never My Love,” with its heartfelt lyrics and enchanting melody, has seen its fair share of re-imaginings, but who started the lifelong love affair with the song?

The Addrisi Brothers’ Original:

“Never My Love” was created in the 1960s by The Addrisi Brothers, an American pop duo from Massachusetts whose parents were the Flying Addrisis, a famous traveling trapeze act.

The brothers wrote “Never My Love” in 1967 while songwriters at the Valiant Record label. Later working as talent agents, they subsequently signed The Association, which had a huge hit with the tune.

The Addrisis scored their own hits in the 1970s and also composed the theme for the ABC television program Nanny and the Professor. In 1977 “Slow Dancin’ Don’t Turn Me On” topped the charts. That same year, the brothers released “Never My Love” as a groovy duet for Buddha Records. Their version included a sweeping orchestral arrangement of strings, horns, and chimed-out flourishes. Pure ’70’s easy listening; the track opened with a female vocalist whispering an added line before the first verse. Written over a decade earlier, the songwriters’ original idea came full circle as the tune rose up to the Top-40.

Over the years, countless takes on the lyrically elegant ballad would also make lasting impressions.

The Association’s Version:

You could call the late ’60s California pop scene a groovy, vocal love-fest. The Association exemplifies this breezy, laid-back style on songs “Windy,” “Cherish,” and “Along Comes Mary” – all stacked with their signature vocal harmonizing.

“Never My Love” mesmerized the flower-power generation and provided decades of listening pleasure thereafter. The Association was as much a band as they were a vocal group, even opening the historic Monterey Pop Festival.

“Never My Love” was a hit off their Insight Out album released in 1967.

Structurally delightful, the memorable keyboard and drum intro and the catchy –E, F, G, B, C– repeating riff coalesced beautifully with their polyphonic sound. The song permeated the airwaves and live television performances and became a staple in clubs and wedding halls. Later, the song eventually gained momentum on film and television.

The Association’s chart-topping rendition of the Addrisi-penned tune had a lasting effect on music as well as popular culture and remained a widely played tune.

The Lyrics:

After an instantly recognizable, warm instrumental opening (depending on the artist’s version), the song kicks off with a very simple question, but one that powers straight through your heart and soul.

You ask me if there’ll come a time
When I grow tired of you
Never, my love
Never, my love
You wonder if this heart of mine
Will lose its desire for you
Never, my love
Never, my love
What makes you think love will end?
When you know that my whole life depends
On you (on you)
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba (ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba)
Never, my love
Never, my love
You say you fear I’ll change my mind
I won’t require you
Never, my love
Never, my love
How can you think love will end
When I’ve asked you to spend your whole life
With me? (with me, with me)
Never, my love (never, my love)
Never, my love
Never, my love (never, my love)
Never, my love
Never, my love

the song never my love

“When I heard the song ‘Windy’ I thought, ‘That’s a cutey, that should do well.’ When I heard “Never My Love,” I thought, ‘That’s a hit.’ ”

Larry Ramos – the association

Other Notable Versions:

“Never My Love” defies genres and musical trends from the 1960s up until the 21st century. The song was recorded by numerous artists, notably The 5th Dimension, who had a #1 hit with it.

Etta James, Blue Swede, the Four Tops, Barry Manilow, Bryan Adams, Jakob Dylan and Norah Jones, Donny Hathaway, the Ventures, Kathy Troccoli, Andy Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Samantha Jones, Spencer Day, and the Casuals are merely some of the artists who’ve put a spin on the timeless song,

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

TV & Film:

Sons of Anarchy

A haunting version of “Never My Love” by Audra Mae and the Forest Rangers provided a stark backdrop for the Season 7 premiere of FX’s biker drama Sons of Anarchy.

The song underpins main character Jax Teller venting his demons as the vocal duo vulnerably sputters then hums like a Harley on a desolate, gray road. The tune trembles along then dips down via sweet bass lines, and bristles up on raw vocals, all as a montage of cast members, including club matriarch Gemma, ride the trials and tribulations of the California biker and drug scene.

Outlander–Time Traveling Love

In 2020, the historical time travel drama Outlander featured the song during the opening of its Season 5 finale episode, aptly titled “Never My Love.”

The Association’s standard is definitely required for this back-in-time, forward-in-time episode. The cast dressed in ’60s attire switches to 1743 Scotland in a dream sequence that’s beautifully in tune with the dynamic vocals amping up the devotional message of the song.

More Love for the Tune

Other instances of its use have appeared in the Netflix mini-series, Nine Perfect Strangers, which featured the song during its finale. Then, of course, the romance-themed networks grabbed the song here and there, such as the Hallmark movie, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Vows we Have Made.

Sound Fact: In 1999, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) ranked “Never My Love.” as the second most-played song on radio and television during the 20th century in the U.S.

Never Ending Journey:

Variations on a theme and individual artistry have made a fabulous song a hit over and over. Be it a different vocal tone, tempo, or unique Orchestral arrangement, a song can become a whole new experience. But great songwriting starts the journey. The Addrisi Brothers wrote the song, which is clearly still evolving.

Ultimately, the song captures the essence of “you’re not alone.”

You ask me if there’ll come a time

When I grow tired of you

Never, my love…

Caroline Paone (@CarolineRex) is a contributor for and may be reached at

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