The Twelfth Of Never

Album: Johnny's Greatest Hits (1957)
Charted: 9
Play Video


  • This was written by Jerry Livingston and Paul Francis Webster. They wrote songs (though they were not permanent songwriting partners) for a variety of films. Livingston saw three of his songs receive Oscar nominations (all had lyrics written by Mack David, Hal's older brother), while Webster saw three of his songs win Oscars and five receive Oscar nominations.
  • The "Twelfth of Never" is an expression that defines the date of a future event that will never happen at all. In this song, the singer uses the phrase to explain that his love will last forever. The expression also appears in the lyrics of the Earth, Wind & Fire song "Fantasy."
  • Excluding the bridge, the melody of this song was adapted from a folk song entitled "I Gave My Love a Cherry," whose alternate title is "The Riddle Song."
  • A version by Cliff Richard reached #8 in the UK in 1964. Donny Osmond reached UK #1 and US #8 with his cover in 1973, and a version by Elvis Presley was released posthumously, making #21 in the UK in 1995.
  • The title of the 1993 biographical book Until the Twelfth of Never: The Deadly Divorce of Dan & Betty Broderick is a reference to the fact that this song was played at Dan and Betty Broderick's wedding. Betty was convicted of second-degree murder for killing Dan and his second wife.
  • Roger Miller covered this song for his 1968 album A Tender Look at Love. Olivia Newton-John covered it for her 1989 album Warm and Tender, and Dolly Parton recorded it as a duet with Keith Urban for her 2005 album Those Were the Days.

    Other artists who have covered this song include Glen Campbell, Cher, the Chi-Lites, Petula Clark, Waylon Jennings, Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas, Nina Simone, the Ventures, Bobby Vinton, Slim Whitman, Roger Whittaker, Andy Williams and Tammy Wynette. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jerro - New Alexandria, PA, for all above
  • This was the flip side to the #1 hit "Chances Are."
  • Mathis disliked everything about this song except for the bridge. He told John Gilliland for the radio documentary Pop Chronicles: "I didn't like it because it was all so repetitious, and nothing seemed to happen. And I was really Joe College at that time. I was right out of college and I was hot to trot. I wanted to do something, you know, rah-rah-rah, something earth-shattering - at least pyrotechnical."
  • Donny Osmond was just 15 when his version of "Twelfth of Never" was released, but the song stuck with him and remains one of his favorites. It's remained a constant in his setlist throughout his career, including at his Las Vegas residency that started in 2021. "The chord structures, even musicians today in my band, they say, 'This song is absolutely beautiful. It's gorgeous,'" he told Songfacts.

Comments: 6

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 9, 1957, Johnny Mathis performed "The Twelfth of Never" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV weekday-afternoon program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #14 on Billboard's Most Played by Jockeys chart, just over two weeks later it would peak at #9 {for 1 week} and it spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on the same 'Bandstand' show he also performed the record's A-side, "Chances Are", and at time it was at #1 on the Most Played by Jockeys chart...
    Between 1957 and 1984 Mr. Mathis had forty-three* records on the Top 100 chart, six made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, besides the above "Chances Are", his other #1 record was "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late", a duet with Deniece Williams, for 1 week in 1978...
    John Royce Mathis celebrated his 82nd birthday ten days ago on September 30th {2017}...
    * Three of his forty-three Top 100 records were duets; two with Deniece Williams and one with Dionne Warwick.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 11th 1965, Johnny Mathis performed at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, CA...
    At the time his album 'Johnny's Greatest Hits'* was at #133 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart, and it was also its 362nd week on the chart, it would stay on the chart for another 128 weeks, for a grand total of 490 weeks on the Top 200 Albums chart...
    Sharing the bill with Mr. Mathis was Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, and their album 'Whipped Cream and Other Delights' was at #26 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    * "The Twelfth Of Never" was track three on the 'Johnny's Greatest Hits' album.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 25th 1973, "The Twelfth of Never" by Donny Osmond entered Billboard's Top 100 chart at position #82; and on April 22nd it peaked at #8 (for 2 weeks) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #7 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 22nd 1967, Johnny Mathis performed "The Twelfth of Never" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show" (it was included in a medley of his hits, "It's Not For Me To Say", "Wild Is The Wind", "Chances Are", and "Wonderful Wonderful!"...)
    Ten years earlier on October 8th, 1957 "The Twelfth of Never" entered Billboard's Top 100 chart; eventually it peaked at #9 and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    The record's A-side, "Chances Are", also charted, it reached #1 (for 1 week) and stayed on the Top 100 for over a half-year (28 weeks)...
    R.I.P. Mr. Sullivan (1901 - 1974) and Mr. Mathis celebrated his 78th birthday four months ago on September 30th (2013).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyAccording to Billboard; "The Twelfth of Never" peaked at #9 while the flip-side "Chances Are" peaked at #1 for one week!!!
  • Hal from Atlanta, Gabefore settling on a singing career, johnny mathis was promising track star and was invited to try out for the 1956 us olmypic team headed to australia. but he chose music instead reportedly on the advice of his father
see more comments

Editor's Picks

David Paich of Toto

David Paich of TotoSongwriter Interviews

Toto's keyboard player explains the true meaning of "Africa" and talks about working on the Thriller album.

80s Video Director Jay Dubin

80s Video Director Jay DubinSong Writing

Billy Joel and Hall & Oates hated making videos, so they chose a director with similar contempt for the medium. That was Jay Dubin, and he has a lot to say on the subject.

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)Songwriter Interviews

Chad tells tales from his time as drummer for Nirvana, and talks about his group Before Cars.

dUg Pinnick of King's X

dUg Pinnick of King's XSongwriter Interviews

dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.

Michelle Branch

Michelle BranchSongwriter Interviews

Michelle Branch talks about "Everywhere," "The Game Of Love," and her run-in with a Christian broadcasting network.

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?Song Writing

Katy Perry mentions McDonald's, Beyoncé calls out Red Lobster, and Supertramp shouts out Taco Bell - we found the 10 restaurants most often mentioned in songs.