Pair #20: "Never"

"NEVER" (Extended Version)
Original Post Dates: November 30, 2005 (Extended: June 9, 2009)
Runtimes: 0:57 (Extended: 3:03)
Genres: Pop/Rock Ballad
Compilation Albums:
Pink Pants (Extended: Skinny Jeans [also available on Autumn])

Prompt Summary: a song about things that Andrew has never done, in 5/4 time and without any percussion

Ah, "Never." When Andrew posted the original version of this song just over 17(!) years ago, STWPT fans were totally blindsided. In a mind-blowing inversion of his frequent cheeky interpretations of serious prompts, Andrew took a fun prompt and made a beautiful, heart-wrenching masterpiece.

As the prompt summary above states, the requester wanted Andrew to write a song about some things that he'd never done before. To make it more fun, they asked for it to be in 5/4 time—five beats per measure; note that "common time" is four beats per measure—and have no backing percussion.* Instead of a whimsical list of outrageous or impossible (or, alternatively, humanly necessary) things, Andrew wrote a song about never having gotten the chance to say goodbye to an ex.

Yup. "Never" is a breakup song. A totally normal breakup song. Like one you'd hear on a Top 40 radio station. Minds: blown.

What makes "Never" even more of an outlier is that the vast majority of the serious songs in the STWPT project are the results of paid commissions. In other words, Andrew pretty much only ever wrote serious songs when someone paid him to do so; otherwise, he even made fun of blatant requests for breakup songs. Except here. We can only speculate as to why this is the exception. Perhaps Andrew had just gone through a breakup in real life? :(

Musically, "Never" does take its 5/4 time request in stride. (It's rather difficult to conduct a song in 5/4 time, as I've learned from this song.) As far as I can tell, the original song features only a guitar and a piano—no drums—which lends it additional emotional weight as Andrew sings over a relatively sparse accompaniment. The original, minute-long version ends on a sustained piano note, leaving you hanging onto the raw emotion that's just been dumped on you out of nowhere by this comedy recording artist, before it fades to nothing. Damn.

Over the years, as you can see for yourself in the comments section of the original site post—click the word "Never" at the top of this post to visit—Andrew was inundated with praise for "Never," with fans expressing awe and appreciation for his songwriting talent. Mixed in with the praise were requests for an expanded version of the song. More than four years later, they got their wish: "Never (Extended)." What began as an unexpectedly heartfelt vignette became a full-length song, complete with verses, a chorus, a bridge, and a coda, thanks to the anonymous hero who paid Andrew to make it so.

Much like the extended version of "Celtic Techno Burrito" back in 2004, this extended track includes the original cut at the beginning. However, per the extended version's request, that final piano note from the original fades out more quickly now, creating a seamless transition into the new parts of the song. There's also a more lively instrumentation, including drums, and while that could have detracted from the emotional impact, it actually builds up quite well, going all forte or even fortissimo during the song's climactic coda.

Andrew successfully raised money on Kickstarter to fund the production of a music video for the song, and while I'm not generally a music video fan, this is one of my favorites. It shows Andrew revisiting a house, presumably where he lived with the significant other, taking in all of the memories they shared before ultimately destroying everything in spectacular fashion, an outpouring of sorrow and pain. The video is visually striking, and it compliments the song brilliantly. Therefore, instead of embedding a YouTube Music song below, I've embedded the official music video!

Andrew also released the extended version of "Never" as the lead single from his second solo LP, Autumn (originally released under the "Your Heart" moniker, a duo that disappeared into thin air). It features as the third track on that album, which comprises ten wrenching but beautiful songs about troubled relationships. This is not the first Song to Wear Pants To to be re-released on one of his "Seasons" albums; he reworked STWPT track "Hidden Camera Show" into the song "1997" on his earlier album Summer.


*As a delightfully pedantic fan commented below the original version's post on the original STWPT site, technically, it does include percussion because technically a piano is a percussion instrument. I would personally consider it a hybrid percussion/string instrument; musicologists would classify it as a chordophone.

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