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Lyrics | I’ve Never Been to Me | Charlene

 

Hey lady, you lady, cursing at your life
You’re a discontented mother and a regimented wife
I’ve no doubt you dream about the things you’ll never do
But, I wish someone had talked to me
Like I wanna talk to you…..

Oh, I’ve been to Georgia and California and anywhere I could run
I 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 million lies….

Oh, I’ve been to Niece and the Isle of Greece while I’ve sipped champagne on a yacht
I’ve 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 supposed to see
I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me

[spoken]
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, 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 crying for unborn children that might have made me complete
But I took the sweet life, I never knew I’d be bitter from the sweet
I’ve spent my life exploring the subtle whoring that costs too much to be free
Hey lady……
I’ve been to paradise, (I’ve been to paradise)
But I’ve 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 Neice and the isle of Greece while I’ve sipped champagne on a yacht)
I’ve been to paradise, never been to me
(I’ve been to cryin’ for unborn children that might have made me complete)
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

FACTS ABOUT THE SONG

Upon its initial release in 1976, the song reached number 97 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. In 1982, renewed interest in the song led to the single reaching Number 3 in the USA and Number 1 in the UK. The song also reached number 1 in Australia in 1983 for six weeks.

Charlene was signed to Motown Records, but this has been her only hit save for a late 1982 duet with Stevie Wonder, “Used to Be,” which charted but failed to make the top 40.

 

Charlene did two versions of the song. The version which was initially released was actually the second version which Charlene recorded. Her original version (which became more popular) has an expanded bridge, over which the singer makes an impassioned comparison between the non-committal “fantasy about people and places as we’d like them to be,” versus the committed real love of a family.

In 1982, Tampa, Florida disc jockey Scott Shannon, then at WRBQ, started playing it, by which time Charlene had moved to England and was working in a sweet shop in Ilford, east London. Audience reaction was impressive, and spread quickly, resulting in the song’s re-issuance by Charlene’s label, the version WITH the original spoken bridge. The re-release became a huge hit in Britain as well.

The use of the line “I’ve been to crying for unborn children that might have made me complete”, refers to a woman who is at a point in her life that she wished she had taken the time to have children. However, this was deemed too close to feminist issues and when Charlene’s song was first released in 1976, the version used was the one without that portion (which is NOT the spoken bridge). When the song became an unexpected hit in 1982 it was the version with the spoken bridge (ed. note: the spoken bridge has nothing to do with unborn children, that portion of the song was sung, not spoken. The spoken bridge consists of the words “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, 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……” This was not the song portion that was deemed “too feminist”) intact that was released. It has also been widely reported that the 1982 single was a re-recording, it is not.

Originally written from a male point of view, the song was rewritten by Ron Miller for Charlene. The male version is sung from the perspective of an old man begging for a dime for a cup of coffee, addressing a younger man who is “raising hell” the way the old man used to do. The female version is sung to a housewife who wishes that she could trade her everyday life for the exciting, fantastic life led by the singer. The singer tells of some of the highlights of her life, but the tone is bittersweet and she wishes that someone had told her what she is telling the listener. She has learned what is important, but now it is too late. She finds her life hollow and without purpose, having lost her real self years before – the “me” she has never been to, is the life that she would have led if she hadn’t been lured away by false ideas.

When this song was first released in the USA, in 1976, Charlene’s full name was Charlene Duncan through her marriage to record producer Larry Duncan, but when the song was released for a second time in 1982, the name she had taken was Charlene Oliver because of her marriage to Englishman Jeff Oliver.

It soon rose to the top of the Pop charts and Adult Contemporary charts that year. Her LP album I’ve Never Been to Me, released in 1982 proved to also be successful for Charlene. Her song was one of the biggest hits of the year and became a standard in pop music.

Charlene has not yet been able to follow-up the success of her one big hit “I’ve Never Been to Me”, but has continued to record and release songs to the public. She released another album in 1983, but was not so successful.

Because of her one big hit, Charlene became a one-hit-wonder in music. Charlene and her big hit “I’ve Never Been to Me” were featured on VH1’s 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders show, hosted by William Shatner in 2002. Her position on that list was at #75.

Charlene is set to re-release the song in the form of a dance remix via download music.

 

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