Never on Sunday

Released October 1, 1960
Format Vinyl
Recorded 1960

Label United Artists
Writer(s) Manos Hadjidakis

“Never on Sunday”, also known as “Ta Pediá tou Pireá” (Greek: “Τα Παιδιά του Πειραιά”; English: “The Children of Piraeus”), is a popular song by Manos Hadjidakis. A vocal version was also released and performed by Melina Mercouri in the film of same name directed by Jules Dassin and starring Mercouri. The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1960, a first for a foreign-language picture. The film score to the movie was first released on October 1, 1960 by United Artists Records. The song has since been recorded by numerous artists, and has gained various degrees of success throughout the world.

“Never on Sunday” was written by Manos Hadjidakis originally in Greek with the title “Ta Pedia tou Pirea” (The children of Piraeus). The original Greek version featured lyrics also written by Hadjidakis, and was performed in the film by Melina Mercouri. The original Greek lyrics (along with the foreign translations in German, French and Italian) do not mention “Never on Sunday” (as found in the English lyrics), but rather tell the story of the main female character of the film, Illya (Mercouri). Illya is a jolly woman who sings of her joyful life in her port town of Piraeus (“If I search the world over/I’ll find no other port/Which has the magic/Of my Port Piraeus”). Although she earns her money as a prostitute, she longs to meet a man someday who is just as full of joie de vivre as she is herself.

In 1960, the song was nominated and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, a first for a foreign-language picture since the Academy began to recognize achievements in this category in 1934.

The song has been recorded in a number of languages since its release:

Greek (as “Τα Παιδιά του Πειραιά”) by Melina Mercouri, Nana Mouskouri, and Pink Martini.
English: An orchestral version recorded by Don Costa reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960, then returned to the Billboard Top 40 when reissued in 1961. His version also peaked at #27 in the UK Singles Chart. Following the success of the orchestral version as well as the Oscar win, an English language version of the song was commissioned to be written especially to match the title of the film. The lyrics to the English version of the song were written by Billy Towne. A vocal of the song by The Chordettes reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1961. It was also recorded by Billy Eckstine, Bing Crosby, Lena Horne, Doris Day, Andy Williams, Trini Lopez, The 4 Seasons, Connie Francis, Julie London, Eartha Kitt, Petula Clark, Lale Andersen, Ann-Margret, and The Chordettes, plus as an instrumental by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and James Last. The Ventures released a version on their 1963 Dolton album The Ventures Play Telstar and the Lonely Bull.
In Britain, there were five versions in the UK Singles Chart. They were Don Costa, reached number 27; Chaquito (actually Johnny Gregory), reached number 50; Lynn Cornell with the only vocal version in the UK chart, reached number 30; Makadopulos and his Greek Serenaders, reached number 36; and Manuel and his Music of The Mountains (actually Geoff Love), which peaked at number 29.
Italian (as “Uno a te, uno a me”) by Dalida, Milva, Isabella Fedeli.
French (as “Les enfants du Pirée”) by Dalida, Melina Mercouri, Darío Moreno. Dalida’s French version of this song topped French singles chart in 1960.
Spanish (as “Los niños del Pireo”) by Dalida. “Nunca en Domingo” by Xiomara Alfaro.
English / Spanish (as “No Tengo Dinero”) by Los Umbrellos, based on the melody.
German: Lale Andersen scored a number one hit in 1960 with the German-language version of the song titled “Ein Schiff wird kommen”. It was also covered by Dalida, Caterina Valente, Lys Assia, Nana Mouskouri, Helmuth Brandenburg and Melina Mercouri. In 1982 the Neue Deutsche Welle band Der Moderne Man recorded a gay themed new wave version named “Blaue Matrosen” with the same German lyrics of Lale Andersen’s version, but sung by a man.
Dutch (as “Waarom ben jij nooit op zondag vrij”) by Mieke Telkamp, based on the melody.
Yiddish (as “Af zyntik – neyn”) by The Barry Sisters.
Polish (as “Dzieci Pireusu”) by Maria Koterbska and duo of actors Hanna Śleszyńska & Jacek Wójcicki.
Czech (as “Děti z Pirea”, 1962) by Milan Chladil & Yvetta Simonová.
Serbian (as “Деца Пиреја”) by Lola Novaković and Ljiljana Petrović.
Croatian (as “Nikad nedjeljom”) by Ksenia Prohaska.
Slovenian (as “Otroci Pireja”) by Helena Blagne.
Cantonese (as “兩仔爺”) by Andy Lau, Anita Mui, Sandra Ng, Ronald Cheng, Gordon Lam, Suzanne Chung, Cherrie Ying and Lam Chi-chung in the film Dance of a Dream (愛君如夢). The title song roughly translates “Father and Son”.
Mandarin (as “別在星期天”) by Teresa Teng. The title translates as “Never on Sunday”.