♫ I’ve Never Been To Me ♫

Charlene, whose full name is Charlene Marilynn D’Angelo Duncan Oliver, is an R&B singer who is known mainly for this one song.  Originally released in 1976, it barely made a blip on the charts, reaching only #97 in the U.S.  Six years later, it was re-released after a Florida radio station started playing it to great public acclaim, by which time Charlene had moved to England and was working in an Ilford, Essex sweet shop. The re-release became a huge hit in both the U.S. and the UK.

I am not one who deeply analyzes songs.  I take lyrics at face value … when I even hear the lyrics, that is!  I hadn’t given much thought to the lyrics, but might have missed the meaning of them anyway.  According to Songfacts …

The song was originally written from a male perspective but was rewritten by Ron Miller for Charlene. The use of the line “I’ve been to crying for unborn children” was not written about abortion. The line refers to a woman who is at a point in her life that she wished she had taken the time to have children.  There are many misconceptions about this song. The spoken bridge in the song was not about or did it mention abortion – it was deemed too feminist and when Charlene’s first album was re-released in 1977, the spoken bridge had been deleted. When the song became an unexpected hit in 1982 it was the version WITH the spoken bridge intact that was released. It has also been widely reported that the 1982 single was a re-recording, it is not.

This was used in the 1994 movie The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert. There have been several cover versions of this song by both male and female artists, including Nancy Wilson, Randy Crawford, The Temptations, Walter Jackson and Howard Keel.

I’ve Never Been To Me
Charlene

Hey lady, you, lady, cursin’ at your life
You’re a discontented mother and a rich inventive wife
I’ve no doubt you dream about the things you’ll never do
But I wish someone had a talked to me like I wanna talk to you

Ooh I’ve been to Georgia and California, oh, anywhere I could run
Took the hand of a preacher man and we made love in the sun
But I ran out of places and friendly faces because I had to be free
I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me

Please lady, please, lady, don’t just walk away
Cause I have this need to tell you why I’m all alone today
I can see so much of me still living in your eyes
Won’t you share a part of a weary heart that has lived a million lies

Oh I’ve been to Nice and the isle of Greece
While I sipped champagne on a yacht
I moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo and showed ’em what I’ve got
I’ve been undressed by kings and I’ve seen some things
That a woman ain’t s’posed to see
I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me

Hey, you know what paradise is? It’s a lie. A fantasy we create about
People and places as we’d like them to be. But you know what truth is?
It’s that little baby you’re holding, and it’s that man you fought with
This morning, the same one you’re going to make love with tonight.
That’s truth, that’s love

Sometimes I’ve been to cryin’ for unborn children
That might have made me complete
But I, I took the sweet life and never knew I’d be bitter from the sweet
I spent my life exploring the subtle whoring that cost too much to be free
Hey lady, I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me

I’ve been to paradise, never been to me
(I’ve been to Georgia and California, and anywhere I could run)
I’ve been to paradise, never been to me
(I’ve been to Nice and the isle of Greece
While I sipped champagne on a yacht)
I’ve been to paradise, never been to me
(I’ve been to cryin’ for unborn children)

Songwriters: Kenneth W Hirsch / Ronald N. Miller
I’ve Never Been To Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

31 thoughts on “♫ I’ve Never Been To Me ♫

  1. Pingback: ♫ I’ve Never Been To Me ♫ – Deborahs Designs

  2. Charlene’s version is probably the favorite for most and I do like it. But, I am going to have to say that I prefer The Temptations version from the early 80’s performed during their Reunion Tour and on the eponymous album from the same time. Having 7 Temptations instead of 5 was great, but they experienced much discord. Dennis Edwards as lead vocal on this song is marvelous. I had to pull this album out when he died this February, just two days before his 75th birthday. Although, he wasn’t with The Temptations for quite some time by then…a different group, I forget the name. Thank-you!

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    • As usual, I have learned something new from you! I don’t think I ever knew that there were 7 Temptations! Per your recommendation, I shall have to go check out the Temptations version of the song. 😉

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      • There were 7 for that Reunion Tour and might have continued that way. But, it was frought with dissension and if memory serves me correctly, it was ended early. David Ruffin was a problem because of his drug addiction, I think that Eddie Kendricks was also problematic…they were the reunited part of the tour! That aside, I really love this song!

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        • I need SpellCheckPlus! I was scooping the litter boxes and it flew into my mind…fraught, not frought!! Why, you ask…I never know what will fall out of those convolutions in my brain or when.

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          • Ahhhh … I can relate! Scooping litter boxes, like mopping floors, washing dishes and the rest is mindless work … it gives our minds time to leisurely stroll back through the day and … OOPS … got that one wrong! 😀

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        • I did find the Temptations’ version and listened, but I think I still like Charlene’s better. That said, as a rule of thumb I love the Temptations and most of the Motown sound!

          As an aside … why is it that these stars … great musicians with the world at their fingertips … so often turn to drugs and even end up killing themselves? It would seem they have everything to live for … things most of us don’t even bother to dream of … and yet, they aren’t satisfied. I don’t get it?

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  3. A very sad song, one I’m sure a lot of women can relate to. As a man with no children the sentiment is not quite the same, at least not for me. I’ve come to terms with the fact I never became a father, and that is all it is–a fact. Meanwhile, for those women who wanted children, but never had any, or could not have any, I do feel for them.

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    • I suppose it is a sad song, though I never really thought of it as such … I just thought of it as one older and more experienced, realizing things she may have missed, giving advice to a younger who still has her life ahead of her and can make new choices. But then … I tend toward optimism … or, at least I did until the last two years.

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      • I guess, for sake of this conversation, it can go both ways. But will a younger woman listen, and how will her life be changed if she does?
        For me this brings up the question of abortion. In our current society women are told over and over that abortion is wrong, that they are going to regret it if they have one. What does that type of brainwashing do to them? If they expect it to bother them, eventually it will bother them. But if no one tells them it is wrong, or they will regret it, do they still suffer in later years? Maybe some, but not all. These outcomes are being placed in their heads, and poisons them. Similarly, telling others a woman is regretting not having children can poison them.
        I don’t mean to make such a big deal out of this, but there are so many ifs, ands, and buts in our lives we don’t need more added to them. We make life hard enough as it is, why do we want to make it even harder. And that is why I say this song is a sad one. A woman is in pain, that is sad. But if she causes pain for others, even unintentionally, that makes it much much sadder.

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        • Ahhhh … so you open the can of worms here, eh? Okay … I’ll bite. 🙂 I think that even if nobody said a word, most women would always feel a bit sad about having had an abortion, always wonder what that child might have been like, how life might have been different. I wouldn’t call it regret, for women who have an abortion did so for very valid reasons … at least most did … but rather, it is just introspection, a ‘what if’ pondering. So, I don’t think I am as bothered by people cautioning a woman who is considering an abortion as I am the ‘christians’ who demonize women who make that painful choice. Roe v Wade did not in any way encourage abortion, it simply gave women control over their own body. And then along comes the right-wing holier-than-thou religious contingent to tell a woman that she is dooming herself to hell if she so much as thinks about aborting a fetus. And not only that, but they wish to impose their will over her own right to decide whether or not she can afford, emotionally and/or financially, to have a child. But let’s take it a step further …

          The right-wing evangelicals claim that a human life is in effect the moment the sperm meets up with the egg, and abortion is murder of a human being. They call themselves “right to life”. But wait!!! What happens when a woman has a baby that she cannot financially support? Do those evangelicals hurry to help her with food, shelter and medical care? Are they willing for a small portion of their tax dollars to go to help the woman and her baby? Noooooo … she got herself into this mess, they say, and let her figure it out on her own. And they say that she can put the child up for adoption, but … how many children are stuck in a mostly-broken foster care system because there are more children up for adoption than there are parents willing and able to adopt them???

          As you may have noted, this is one of my pet peeves … one of many, but an important one, for the vast majority of those who make decisions like this are men … men who can impose their will and then walk away with a wink-wink and a nod. Phew … I’m out of breath now … where are my smokes???

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          • Smoking when you a out of breath, Jill? Landsakes alive, girl, are you ttying to commit suicide? Don’t answer that, I’m partially kidding.

            As for your silent diatribe, I have spoken very similar words myself quite often in my life. It is one of my pet peeves also. Some Pro-Life believers. They should be called Anti-Lifers, condemning people to a lifetime of probable misery just to satisfy their own egos. How dare they!

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            • Actually, I have convinced my body that a cigarette works even better than the inhaler when I am struggling for air … and it works! Mind over matter!

              I agree … anti-lifers is a more apt term for them. And … these are the same people who are all for capital punishment. Now … is there an oxymoron here, or what? The are for life that isn’t even born yet, but once born, they have no qualms about letting a child starve to death or a person convicted of a crime be executed, even though it may later be proven that he was innocent of said crime?

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              • Their lives are all that matter to them. “Others” don’t really exist, they are mere bit players. God gave them dominion over all animals, and others are animals. They are the true “chosen” humans. It is their way, or the highway.

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                • I read some goofy Q&A thing a day or two ago that asked the question: How did humans get on earth, and what is their purpose? Nine out of ten blindly answered that god put them here and their purpose was to ‘rule’ or dominate all other species. It made me so angry I threw my mouse … luckily it didn’t hit any of the kitties!

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                  • It must have been wireless to throw it, so they wouldn’t have eaten it, not without a tail. A cat we had thought the old variety had a tail, and tried to eat the tail all the time. How she never got fried we’ll never know…

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                    • It is wireless … a mini. I cannot tolerate the touchpad, so I keep it disabled, for otherwise as I type, my wrists rub against it and send the cursor all over the place. Ha ha … I bet she did get a bit of a buzz on her tongue every now and then, but there isn’t enough current running through them to do lasting damage. Rather like my vacuum, which has several frayed places in the cord where the wire is exposed, but all I ever get is a bit of a jolt. I figure it gives me some much-needed energy! 😀

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                    • Please wrap some electrical tape around the frayed spots, or get a new cord. I never want to have fried Jill on my menu. BTW, please unplug the cord before you tape it. I’m sure you know that, but next time you use it, and it breaks down, you might not be in your right mind. Fix it before you use it, even if just to please me (and your other readers).

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                    • I did wrap electrical tape around the first few places that frayed, but then I noticed it wasn’t rewinding easily into the auto cord rewinder, so I stopped adding more girth to the cord with electrical tape. Still … it is only a small jolt, and I have asked for a new vacuum for Christmas! Might even buy one sooner, for with 6 kitties, it’s imperative to have one that works properly and this one is getting old!

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    • I fell in love with the song when I saw the movie The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert when Chris was watching it on tv many years ago, and periodically catch myself singing it in the kitchen (the kitchen and shower being the only two places that I’m allowed to sing within the house).

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        • My problem is that ‘all in my head singing’ generally turns into ‘annoy everyone else singing’. Words just start popping out of my mouth! Sometimes this even happens in the grocery store and people look at my funny! One of the advantages of old age is they just sort of smile and walk on by, thinking “Awww … isn’t that cute … a senile little old lady …”

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          • The trouble I get comes from being influenced by my son some 15 years ago into various genres of ‘metal’ (as he was short of cash, always I suggested he produce for me compilation cassette tapes of bands he was following)…If you say find on YouTube the band Killswitch Engage and select ‘Rose of Sharyn’ you can see how a 67 year old guy bursting out with that in average public would not be looked upon with much sympathy or indulgence 😃 (PS: Love that song)

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