Outlander, The Association and ‘Never My Love’

A new song came into my life last week which I have just discovered is one of the most listened to of the 20th century. Why am I only finding out about it now, as for me, it ticks all the boxes?

  • Released in 1967
  • Recorded by a band of the sunshine pop persuasion
  • Made with members of the legendary Wrecking Crew (that group of session musicians based in Los Angeles who worked with Sonny & Cher, the Mamas & the Papas, the 5th Dimension, the Monkees, the Beach Boys and many others)

The Association were until last week unknown to me, however according to the well-known online encyclopaedia, they hit the No. 1 spot in the charts in October 1967, and had four other top ten hits in the late 1960s. Ah…, but not here in the UK, in America (as I would have called it then). That would explain it, as it seems they largely bypassed the notice of the great British public. The song I have become quite smitten by is this one, their version of Never My Love.

Never My Love by The Association:


The reason I stumbled upon this beautiful song from over 50 years ago was because it featured in the final episode of the historical television drama Outlander, which we have just finished binge watching for the second time. Overkill perhaps I know, but we needed something to fill the gaps in our viewing schedule and the storyline is about events and people from our neck of the woods. It’s also one of the reasons why we’ve been getting so many visitors to the Highlands over the last few years (pre-pandemic), as what with time-travel and romance as well as drama, the Outlander books and television series have quite the cult following.

Anyway, I won’t give too much away in terms of spoilers in case anyone hasn’t reached the final episode of season five yet, but the main character Claire returns to her own time, the late 1960s, in a surreal, dream-like set of scenes. The song Never My Love would have been chosen because it fitted the era, as well as the love story that runs through the whole plotline. Here is a clip that uses some of that footage, as well as footage from the mid 1700s, where she goes back in time and meets her handsome Highlander, Jamie Fraser.

It was a strange coincidence then that we reached the end of a series that all kicked off with the build up to the Jacobite Rising, just as we were about to mark the 275th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, the last pitched battle held on British soil. As most people know, the Jacobite army led by Charles Edward Stewart was decisively defeated by government troops on 16th April 1746, and over 2000 Highlanders were killed or wounded.

Although 275 is not a particularly round number for anniversaries, a large event had been planned at the visitor centre for last Friday, but sadly, due to continuing pandemic-related restrictions, it all moved online. The battlefield was still open for walks however, and as we are local we decided to go up with our new camera equipment, hoping to make a little film. I’ve shared a few dashcam films around here before, but this time all credit goes to Mr WIAA who put this effort together. A few Outlander fans were there on the day looking for the Clan Fraser stone (Jamie’s clan) and as usual it had a few floral tributes in front of it.

Culloden Battlefield – Site of the last pitched battle fought on British soil

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I love that I’m still making lots of new discoveries from the late ’60s as I do seem to have a real affinity for the music from that time. More often than not it comes from having heard it on a film or television soundtrack, and as there is nothing like an older song to evoke the era, film-makers usually choose wisely.

As for the Outlander phenomenon, not so many visitors for us over the last year, but I am hopeful that by summer we will be able to open up again and welcome people back. My little holiday hideaway is being prepped and made appealing for bookings as we speak. I know we won’t get many from abroad this year (nor should we), but hopefully we’ll get some guests from other parts of the UK. I hate the word ‘staycation’ which keeps being bandied about – For someone like me brought up in the ’60s and ’70s we never went abroad, and all our great ‘holidays’ were in Scotland. A staycation would have happened during one of those summers when for one reason or another we had to stay at home, and just had day trips instead – Something quite different to my mind.

Jamie Fraser from Outlander

Anyway, whatever it’s called, all being well we will be able to travel more freely this summer and you would be made very welcome if visiting the Highlands. Hopefully the visitor centre at Culloden will be open for business again and I can thoroughly recommend it – You can even dress up in a kilt, just like the one worn by Jamie in Outlander. As for the term Outlander, it apparently means foreigner, or more specifically an English person (used to describe Claire) although I’d personally never heard it before and am more familiar with the word Sassenach which essentially means the same thing. But again, whatever it’s called, you would be made very welcome, so what are you waiting for? The midges await!

Until next time…

Never My Love Lyrics
(Song by Don Addrisi/Dick Addrisi)

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

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

You ask me
If there’ll come a time
When I grow tired of you
Never my love
Never my love

Never my love
Never my love

Never my love
Never my love

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

21 thoughts on “Outlander, The Association and ‘Never My Love’”

  1. One of the greatest slices of pop (always wanted to say that….just like follow that taxi) is Windy by The Association, grab a listen to that it’ll fairly brighten up your day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This one is a bit more familiar or is it because it sounds as if it could have been attached to a ’60s kids telly show? A great slice of pop! Definitely would brighten up anyone’s day.

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  2. ‘Never My Love’. Now there’s a song from my ‘youth’! To your opening comment on The Association, Alyson, while they were certainly more popular in North America than they were in the UK, they were a ‘tier 2’ group here.( Not on the level of the Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel or Mamas & Papas).
    Perhaps, the Fortunes or the Rocking Berries would be UK comparables.
    Their breakout hit was ‘Along Comes Mary (1966), followed by ‘Cherish’, ‘Windy’ and then ‘Never My Love’.
    A strong vocal group that used session musicians the ‘Wrecking Crew’. You used the phrase ‘sunshine pop’. Others have said ‘Baroque Pop’.
    Rumour has it that Jimmy Webb originally sent his opus ‘McArthur Park’ to The Association, but they declined.
    An engineer named Bones Howe did a lot of work with the ‘Wrecking Crew’, ‘The Association’ and Jimmy Webb in those days.
    He probably recognized the potential of ‘McArthur Park’ and ended up working on the Richard Harris version.
    I’m afraid that my wife & I gave up on Outlander long before Season 5.. Referencing this song in the finale of that season is encouraging me to revisit the series.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, although Never My Love was the 2nd most played song of the 20th century in the US (mind-boggling) it was because it was recorded by just about everyone. If the Association had been in the top tier I would surely have heard of them. Since starting this blog I have discovered that 1967 is my favourite year to return to and of all the genres I’ve listened to I think baroque pop is my favourite. For my 100th post I shared Different Drum by The Stone Poneys which was apparently baroque pop in style – Love it.

      Any group/band that is mentioned in the same breath as Jimmy Webb or The Wrecking Crew is ok with me. I’m so used to the Richard Harris version of McArthur Park I’m not sure if I can imagine it performed by the Association instead but then again I really like the Donna Summer version so maybe it would have worked out fine.

      As for Outlander, we feel obliged to watch it because of all the local connections and I am partial to a bit of time travel in my dramas as it can throw up all sorts of interesting plotlines and paradoxes. Knowing the local accent however, we cringe when we hear some of them speak and we can immediately tell who is a Scot and who is not. They say ‘Ah ken’ (I know) an awful lot, but we really don’t. Jamie looks the part but whenever things get intense we say, ‘Oh, there he goes, he’s “acting” again’. Maybe not for you – A hybrid of all sorts of genres (with a touch of 50 Shades of Grey thrown in!).

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  3. A ‘new’ old song, ah, that’s a moment to savour! I agree with you regarding ‘staycation’, a ghastly term. Wishing you the very best for a successful tourist season!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not many ‘new’, new songs that I seem to discover nowadays so going back 50 years seems to be the way to go.

      As for the tourist season we just don’t know yet. Everyone seems to be hedging their bets and not wanting to book anything in case of the rules changing again, or foreign travel opening up again. I have a feeling there will be a lot of last minute bookings once we get closer to July/August. The usual 6 million visitors from abroad won’t be darkening our door this year that’s for sure, so hope the local tourist businesses can survive.

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  4. I see they are trying to build houses at the scene of the battlefield at Culloden.
    All that green space and they opt for a site of historical interest.
    I suspect that money will talk in the end. It usually does.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed – The town has doubled in size (trebled?) since I came here 30 years ago and we just can’t understand where all the people are coming from and where they find jobs. Loads of house building all over town right now so yes, you would think they could stay away from the battlefield. Getting closer every year but lovely views of the Firth from up there so a prime site for developers.

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  5. I have another Association track for you to check out – a favourite of mine as it’s got that slightly harder psychy edge, ‘Six Man Band’. If you like that and particularly ‘Along Comes Mary’ I’m wondering (if you’re not already familiar) if you might like the Strawberry Alarm Clock too…lots of very ’67 sunshiney trippy harmonised vocals lushness! (‘Incense and Peppermints’, ‘Pretty Song From Psych-out’ and ‘Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow’ for starters perhaps…. check out their outfits too!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll add it too for good measure. It is a bit harder and psychy isn’t it and if I remember correctly you went through a phase of being really into such music. Thanks for directing me to the other bands too – Great tunic blouse/white pants combos (and the dancing – well!). Maybe that’s what we need right now a bit of late 60s psychedelia to get us through these tough times.

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  6. Alyson,

    This is a great song! The backing vocals are just heavenly (literally, it is like a chorus of angels). So, so lush. Glad you have become acquainted with it now! I seem to think of the Association in the same space as Classics IV, especially their song “Stormy” (later beautifully reworked by John Legend as “Save Room.”

    My wife and I tried Outlander, but after getting through part of Season 2, it seemed like someone was getting tortured, killed, or raped in every episode. Just got to be too much for us. Perhaps it improved over the other seasons. I know my mother and sister both enjoy it.

    The Culloden visitor center is fantastic! That immersive video is incredible (thought definitely not suitable for young children).

    Also wanted to touch on the language part of your post, since that is definitely my thing. In German, the word for foreigner is Auslander, which literally translates to Outlander. Considering the Germanic roots of the English language, I’m not surprised to see that word construction used here, though I don’t know that it has strong usage in Scotland or any other English speaking country. It is almost like something a German speaker with only fair English skills would directly translate and use.

    Also, as for “ken”, I knew someone in Elgin, just east of you, who used that word regularly as part of his speech. He was a younger guy in his 20s, worked at the auction mart, and was definitely pre-Outlander so not influenced by the show. That word also has German roots, with the German verb “kennen” meaning to know or be acquainted with. All this being said, I also learned that an Elgin accent and an Inverness accent are pretty different, and they are only separated by ~30 miles so some of these language uses and idioms could be hyper-local! You’d have a much wider database than mine, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is a lovely song and I’ve now become quite smitten with ‘Windy’ as well. Looking at my book of Hit Singles, the only time the Association bothered our UK singles chart was in 1968 when they reached the 23 spot with a song called Time For Livin’. No wonder they weren’t familiar to me.

      Your description of Outlander doesn’t really make it sound very appealing and to be fair there were a few unsavoury scenes that we fast-forwarded through this time round, but it does seem to have a bit of a cult following, so they must be doing something right. That very last episode had a pretty harrowing and unsavoury scene which is why Claire was transported in a dreamlike state back to the late 60s. A great chance to include the song though.

      Indeed, there is a big crossover in words from German/words in the Scottish dialect so there must be a link. I use the term earworm a lot around here to describe a song that’s got stuck in my head – It comes directly from the German uhrwurm. I was kind of lying when I said we don’t use the phrase Ah ken much, as plenty of people do, just not in every sentence as they do in Outlander. It is much more common in the North East of Scotland though, where I’m from, and where the local dialect is called Doric (tough to understand if you are indeed an ‘Outlander’). Elgin is still in the Doric-speaking region but a few miles on it all changes and once you’re about 25 miles outside Inverness the accent changes, pretty much pure English with few words that wouldn’t be understood elsewhere.

      Thanks for the interesting comment – You are a font of information.

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      1. I did NOT realize that earworm comes from German “Ohrworm” as you explained. Despite what Mark Twain might say about the language, I love how the Germans just mash a bunch of words together to describe concepts such as this.

        As for Doric….I would cheekily reply “fit like ma loon” but don’t know the gender equivalent for loon, nor if it would even be appropriate to use in this case. Strange language to the ear at first, but I came to appreciate listening to it. Now, when I hear a Scots accent on television, etc., it makes me feel happy inside. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        1. A ‘loon’ is a boy and a ‘quine’ is a girl in Doric – Don’t think there is a word for someone of my years but good on you for knowing the phrase. Rich Kamerman always said that he felt as if spiritually he was a Scot, so it sounds as if you have a touch of that going on as well.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Alyson. I am a little surprised you didn’t know this one but not because it was such a big hit over here. I think it has more to do with it being so up your alley. It’s an Alyson song if there ever was one. Never My Love is one I never get tired of hearing. I rank it right up there with Walk Away Renee as the best baroque pop from that era. Something you wrote intrigued me. You said you were smitten with “their version” of Never My Love. What is the version you were familiar with? Perhaps you know a take I don’t. Just curious…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Brian – Thanks for dropping by and you are right, it’s an Alyson song if ever there was one. When I looked into it more, it seemed that although The Association’s version is the best known, it has also been recorded by dozens of others artists in the decades since (5th Dimension being one) which is why I added the “their version”. Personally I had never heard it before (to my knowledge) so maybe I just worded that bit badly.

      Now that I’ve mentioned the 5th Dimension I think it would be an idea to add yet another clip (there’s been a lot in these comments boxes), so that we can compare and contrast. Personally I’m not liking their version as much – Too slow.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nothing wrong with the writing, Alyson. I just made an assumption. At any rate, the version you provided is, indeed, new to me. I think I’m with you overall, but it has more to do with comparing it to the Association’s take. Otherwise, I think I would have liked it more.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If you were unaware of the song, I’d have to ask your age. This was a big hit in the 60s. If you weren’t around then, you shouldn’t wonder why you don’t know it. It didn’t get much air time after its heyday, unless you found an oldies station. Pretty though, isn’t it? Lots more where that came from.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi – I was just a little kid in the 60s and lived in rural Scotland so it passed me by at the time. I was surprised at how a song that was so successful in the US largely bypassed us here in the UK but these things happen. Very pretty as you say and I’ve enjoyed listening to the other clips shared in the comments boxes.

      Liked by 1 person

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