Friday, August 8, 2014

"I've Never Been to Me" by Charlene

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  0941
Date:  03/06/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  3
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Charlene Duncan was signed to Motown in 1974 and after a failed initial single, she recorded a full album for their Prodigal label in 1977. Her first single from the LP, "It Ain't Easy Comin' Down," barely nicked the pop chart (#97). A second album (which was a basic revamp of the first) swiftly followed that included a new single, "Freddie," which didn't fare much better (#96). A second single was lifted from the LP and it too couldn't muster much business reaching #97. That single was "I've Never Been to Me." Charlene recorded another album, but it was shelved and her time at Motown ended. Or so it seemed. Fast forward a few years to when Tampa DJ Scott Shannon started to play the song at the behest of his girlfriend. It caught on, became popular, and soon Motown was on the ball and issued a new single. By this time, Charlene Oliver (remarried name) was living in England and working at a sweets shop. Motown swooped her back up, re-signed her and had her in the studio recording an album that would share the song's title. The famous track reached #3 in the US and proceeded to hit #1 in the UK and other countries. Unfortunately, Charlene couldn't quite follow-up the unexpected smash and it garnered her one-hit wonder status.

ReduxReview:  Long before the drag queens of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" were miming this song, my best friend and I were doing the same thing in the front seat of her 1978 powder blue Maverick. We loved this song! Of course I had to get the LP and her mellow AC sound was terrific. I was an immediate fan. Now when I hear it, the song has lost a lot of its initial luster. It still is a wonderfully overdone syrupy song that brings back lots of memories, but I can't really defend that it's a great song. It's kind of bad really - but in a good way. Know what I mean? I still listen to the "I've Never Been to Me" album on occasion with great fondness and I always look forward to Charlene telling me what paradise is.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) This song appeared on her first album "Charlene" in 1977. It then made her revamped second album "Songs of Love." However, on that LP the famous spoken word recitation was taken out with that section of the song left as an instrumental break. That version was the single that reached #97 in 1977. When the song was released by Motown in 1982, it was the full original version with the spoken word section intact.  2) Charlene was not the first to record this song. Jazz/R&B singer Randy Crawford included it on a 1976 LP. Nancy Wilson was the first to issue the song as a single and it reached #47 on the R&B chart in 1977.  3) The song is from a woman's point of view, but a male version exists. Originally recorded by Walter Jackson in 1977, the lyrics were changed to be about an old dying man talking to a young guy. The Temptations did this version for a 1982 album.



  1. 7/10 for me, glad to see you like this song as well, I never understood the hatred people have for that song, from my perspective this song really makes me think about what's really important in life and that's something I can't say about many songs.