I never appreciated the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone”…because I associated it with a certain Dutch soccer team, and it’s supporters who sing it in the stadiums.On that same note a dutch singer by the name of Lee Towers sang it in stadiums too. Lee was consistent in raping the song …he kinda ruined my enjoyment of this tune for years. Even though I heard Elvis, Sinatra, Judy Garland and Mario Lanza sing it. I couldn’t seem to shake the negative feelings I experienced when hearing this song. The song was composed by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II in 1945 for a musical entitled “Carousel”. So I heard all of these legendary artist sing it….yet none could make me think of other things than a huge number of people having a brain fart all at the same time, while they were watching 22 guys chasing a ball! Soccer fans, hooligans ‘singing’ on the top of their lungs…‘YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE!!! it’s just the worst!! So why write a blog about a song you don’t care for, one might ask? A legitimate question I grant you! The answer might well be that I actually do care for the song. Huh?! I hear some of you think. Does he care? Or doesn’t he? Well it is quite obvious that I do, I mean, I must…gotta face it…if it annoys me that much, it seems I have to care..right?!
Seemingly the old love and hate & thin line principle applies here once more. I generally do like the occasional pompous, marching, bombastic, anthem type of song. All of the before qualifications are present in this particular one. It’s sturdy and solemn music paired with lofty and nobel lyrics, what a combo! Words about comfort, endurance, friendship and hope! Something beautiful about hope. Hope! Everybody can relate to hope…religious or not! There are more songs that have that type of thing going on…not per se gospel songs, and maybe they are. Songs like “You’ve Got A Friend” “If I Can Dream”and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. are some who come to mind. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is on top of that list of let’s call them cross-over songs!
My association with things I really dislike, like mass hysteria, and people who vandalise other people’s property because their team has gotten their butt kicked was killing me! What I fail to grasp is how they think they can marry that state of mind (if they have one) with all these wonderful principles. To butcher a song that truly stands for the opposite what they represent, just pisses me off .
However the rendition of this tune by the Oak Ridge Quartet made me forget all that crap. Recorded in the early sixties, when the group consisted of Tommy Fairchild piano, Herman Harper bass, Ron Page baritone, Smitty Gatlin lead, and the incomparable Willie Wynn on tenor! Why did this cut make me think different about the song? First of all….the stellar blend this Quartet had, was nothing short of perfect! Tight, full, solid, and all around pleasing to the ears! These gentlemen knew how to sing pretty, and convincingly. The song is sung in a straightforward manner on the choruses. A harmoniously subtle, and vigorous bunch they were! Smitty Gatlin is featured of the verse…and this could well be his finest performance. But what really makes the song happens on the very last line of the song. On the word ‘never‘ Willy Wynn does something fantastic, on the second syllable of the word ‘ne-ver‘ he taps straight into my soul! Listen for it on the 02:35 mark;