♫ I’ve Never Been To Me ♫

I played this one a few years back … sometime in 2018 … and this morning, as I was sweeping peanut shells off the back patio, it just popped into my head, where it has remained for much of the day.  When I played it back in 2018, I played only the version by Charlene, the only one I was aware of at the time.  However, my friend Ellen commented that the Temptations had also covered this song on their Reunion Tour in the early ’80s.  Although I love the Temptations, I still prefer the Charlene version of this song, but I will include both this time ’round so you can choose for yourselves!

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

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

  1. Luv, luv, luv this song! It was featured (in drag) in one of my favorite movie of all time. Check out “The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert” if you haven’t already, it’s become a cult classic.
    My friends and i watch this ever year for the wonderful laughs and memorable one-liners. This and the “Big Lebowski” are total riots, and they have the best soundtracks which i think u’ll enjoy very much.
    Enjoy ur week ahead, keep pumpin’ out the jams sweet mama ❤

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  2. Just wondering Anne. Maybe I am hearing it wrong, but I don’t think the writer is saying a husband is the only answer. The lyricist misses not having had children, but that lyricist was male. Was he writing from the female point-if-view? I cannot tell, but from the backstory, I think it was originally from the male viewpoint. Charlene just gave a voice to his words. Singers generally sound like they wrote the song, but that is part of the magic. As for having many sexual partners, it is a choice one makes, is it not? The idea of whoring is definitely old-fashioned and highly moralistic, yet public and peer pressures can work on a person that way. This is why I hate hearing anti-abortionists screaming at women that they are going to regret not bearing their babies. That can happen, but it does not have to happen. But they place the seed in ,their victims’ minds, hoping it will take root and cause the woman grief. That is a horrible, totally unchristian thing to do. Atheists are much nicer people than christians for the most part, by way of nothing.

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  3. Sorry, Jill, I really don’t like the words of this one. I have never fully listened to it before, just caught the chorus, and thought “Oh yeah, twee, but okay”. However the words are quite disconcerting. I get that sipping champagne on yachts and being undressed by kings may not be fulfilling in the long run, but the song says that having children and a husband is the only answer. And the phrase “the subtle whoring” really made me cross! I do hope we have moved away from the idea that a woman who willingly takes many sexual partners is a whore. Now, I will step down off my soapbox!!
    Take care my friend ~hugs~

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    • No need to apologize, my friend! Music is one of those things that is a matter of personal taste. I always liked this one but my interpretation of the lyrics was that she (the singer) had done lots of things that the rest of us only dream about, but in all of that, she never found true satisfaction, the satisfaction that some women find in family, in their children, their lives that some may see as humdrum, but yet they are fulfilled. Does that make any sense? Anyway, as I say, we all hear something different in a song. I’m sorry you didn’t like this one. Big hugs to you, dear friend!!! ❤

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  4. I loved this song in the 80’s. I totally understood its meaning as someone who married just out of high school, leaving a codependent home life to transfer all that love and giving to my beloved children and abusive husband. It took years before I found the real me, waiting patiently in the shadows. It is tender, honest and brutally truthful.

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    • Oh yes, I think many women of the day were able to relate to it for the very reasons you list. I am so sorry, though, to hear that you were the victim of an abusive husband. My own was emotionally abusive, though not physically. It does take years to find ourselves, to really understand who we are. Which makes my case, having learned from experience, against people marrying before the age of 30! I’m so glad you liked the song, my friend.

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      • Thanks Jill. Happily I have been married to a wonderful man for 32 years now, after those trying years. My parents never taught me how to walk away but I learned it on my own eventually. I was 16 when we married but had graduated on a three year high school program because of my good grades and credits. I had my first child at 21. I was smart enough to insist on waiting three years before having a baby. Can you believe I have never lived alone as an adult? Now my husband has cancer and I don’t want to experience it in my 60’s. 🤦‍♀️🙏🏻

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        • I knew you had remarried and thought you seemed pretty happy now … I’m so glad! Speaking of which, how is he doing now?

          Oh wow, you did get married early! I was 19 and now think that was much too young … I didn’t even know much of anything, but by the time I was 20 I was married and had a child. You were wise to wait those three years for the baby!

          I lived alone as an adult for a number of years, until my daughter had a baby of her own and moved back home, where she and that ‘baby’ who is now 26 years old, still live! Living alone has some advantages, but … it’s also lonely. I am keeping my fingers crossed that your husband pulls through this and that the two of you have many, many, many more years of happiness together! Hugs, dear Cheryl. ❤

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