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I've Never Been To Me

by

Charlene



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Charlene originally recorded this in 1976, and it got to #97 in the American charts. 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 England as well. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England)
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. (thanks, Shawn - Los Angeles, CA)
Charlene was signed to Motown Records, but this was her only hit.
When this song was first released in America 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, her name was then Charlene Oliver because of her marriage to Englishman Jeff Oliver. (thanks, Terry - Northampton, England)
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.
Charlene filmed the video for the song at Blicking Hall, Norfolk, England in the very same dress that she got married in. (thanks, Terry - Northampton, England)
Charlene
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Comments (53):

On February 28th 1982, "I've Never Been To Me" by Charlene entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #84; and on May 16th it peaked at #3 (for 3 weeks) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 6 of those 13 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
And on June 26th, 1982 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
The three weeks it was at #3 on the Top 100, at #2 was "Don't Talk To Strangers" by Rick Springfield and #1 was "Ebony and Ivory" by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder...
Was co-composed by Ron Miller; who also co-wrote "A Place in the Sun", "For Once in My Life", "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday", and Diana Ross' #1 hit "Touch Me in the Morning"...
Charlene, born Charlene Marilynn D'Angelo, will celebrate her 64th birthday in four months on June 1st (2014).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
To me, this is the worst song that ever made the top 10. Absolutely unlistenable. I remember when it came out, I had to jump out of the shower to turn it off when it came on the radio.
- Larry, Wayne, PA
It's pretty sad that not many people totally get this song. I've been singing this whenever I get to hold a microphone and my friends and family even strangers get awestruck whenever I sing this. Maybe because this song is basically a song of my life. And no I don't have a husband or a child, but I have certainly been to places and had things I thought I wanted. In plain sentence, I have everything I ever wanted but not what I needed.
- marie, cebu, Philippines
The Irish comedian Dustin The Turkey had a song called Never Ben To Meath with the same air as this song and this song was referenced in a Simpsons episode in recent years.
- Sioraf, Macroon, Ireland
This is truly one of the cheesiest, sappiest, most self-indulgent, faux-deep songs I have ever heard. It sounds like it should be the background music for a feminine hygiene product. I was out the other day having a perfectly nice meal at a Thai restaurant and this came on and ruined it. It was like, "Oh gawd, where did that come from? And what the hell does 'I've never been to me' mean?" I never got that when the song came out, and I still don't get it now.
- roger, Birmingham, AL
One of the worst songs ever recorded.
- Thomas Wuestenfeld, Arlington Heights, IL, IL
It's interesting how many people who "realize the values in this song are true" are, or become, born-again Christians.
- Ekristheh, Halath, United States
In reference to the earlier question about the "b" side of this record, "Used To Be", I remember it getting a great deal of airplay here in LA and I think it charted somewhere in the teens. And, Charlene's voice IS wonderful!
- Steve, Valencia, CA
I'm the webmaster for Charlene's new, official web site and just wanted to let folks know it's at CharleneSongs.com. She has an album of new songs there, including a new version of you know what :) and also her books -- a cute children's book, and her autobiography, aptly titled I've Never Been To Me.
- Andrew, Denver, CO
I heard dis song fully for d'fist time t'day (21/08/2010) an' I have t'say I was deeply moved by it in a way I've never been before when listenin' to a song!!! I come from Ireland, an' I don't know if any of you are familiar wit' "Dustin the Turkey" (a comic Irish television puppet) who has won many achievements includin' a musical career (he can't sing t'save his life - dat's part of his comic performance)!! He liked t'take well known songs an' rewrite dem as parodies for charity (even ruin dem at times but it was all in a good cause) Any way he rewrote "Never been to me" as "Never been to Meath" where he expressed his wishes to see d'county Meat'!!! When I heard dat it was d'first time I heard d'melody to Charlene's masterpiece!!! An' ever since den I've been tryin' t'find dis song an' now I have an' it has a more melancholic mood dan Dustin's comic parody version, as I say I'm very moved by it!!! Now I heard it fully for d'first time t'day an' I am surprised dat I didn't hear it before now because it is superb, d'imagery is so powerful an' der is so much heart put into it dat it's a wonder people don' make a greater fuss about it!!! I have t'say now dat bein' passionate about listenin' to a songs lyrics dis song will, as of t'day, be placed very near d'top o'my list of songs dat have moved me!!! IUt is absolutey excellent I do not know what else t'say!!!!
- Conor Doran, Carnew, Israel
I like this song. Tracy Huang from Taiwan has sung it as early as in 1978 and released in her album "Just The Way You Are". It was a big success, that's why this song was earlier known and more popular in Asia than in the states. Tracy has changed the lyric a bit, she changed "undressed by kings" into "caressed by kings" and "subtle whoring" into "inner feeling", so that the song was more acceptable in our culture. I love both Charlene's and Tracy's rendition.
- Christie, Beijing, China
To all those trying to apply meanings - sometimes a thing is just a thing. The song isn't about abortion. The song is about concequenses. These come with every decision we make in life, good or bad. Sometimes they are immediate, sometimes they don't come around until later in life. I envy those who can sing. I would trade every homerun, touchdown or dunk I ever made to be able to sing. I would love to be even a "one hit wonder".
- Brent, Idaho Falls, ID
This is one of the lamest songs I have ever heard in my life!How melodramatic can you possibly get? I rank it right down there with "You Light Up My Life" and "Sometimes when We Touch". With his sappiest efforts, Barry Manilow managed to make better songs than this.Since so many people on this site think it's so great, I defy anyone to rag on me for my love of ABBA's music!
- Paul, Washington DC, DC
I used to love this song when I was young in late 70's and in early 80's and after re-discovering it recently, I found I love it even more. I read with interest all the comments posted and I respect people for their ideas/messages... and after all that's said... I still LOVE this song (along with "Somewhere in My life" & "It Ain't Easy comin' Down". Charlene's voice is (was?) simply amazing.
- Evelyn Mills, Oxford, United Kingdom
This song has a certain connection to me. I don't know why but each time I listen to it, there's that certain kind of feeling that I am someone else. This is not my favorite song but it certainly is one of the best songs I've ever heard.
- daryll, Manila, Philippines
well first of all, I love this song, not many people understand it, it is not about abortion, it's about a woman who has never had children because she was to busy chasing her fantasy life . it is a very sad song if you really listen to the lyrics. I've Never Been to Me" was written for me by Ron Miller, he was my boyfriend at the time. I am Charlene the original Motown singer. My Book will be released titled "I've Never Been to Me" with the London show Priscilla Queen of the Desert" which features my song March 24th 2009. I have a new website being constructed as we speak. please check it out, I just want to say thank you to all my wonderful fans out there who have supported me all these years, I also want to post a note, I just lost my dearest friend Shawn Collins, he passed away suddenly, he was my best friend, and I will miss him forever.
X
Charlene
- Charlene oliver, Santa Clarita , CA
I'm surprised that there are so many moralistic people writing here who honestly think that this song is a positive message for women. this song is atrocious! Women are different, some will find the love of their lives and marry, some won't, some will travel the world, some will love where they are. Some of us want to have children, some of us don't. I don't see the point of morally judging this - and her line about "subtle whoring" is so vitriolic and embarassing. Having families is wonderful if that's what happens and that's what you want, but I wouldn't put down another woman who chose a different path. I have plenty of friends who love being mothers and a few who really struggle, and some who never will be. What's the deal? Heard of overpopulation and resource scacity? Some of the comments here are crazily judgemental and sorry girls writing here, but did feminism never happen? Women and men should be able to travel the world and not have children if they don't wish - what's with the 1940s christian ethic? No one is making you go travelling and sit in the sunset....When you read comments like this I really realise how extreme the Christian influence is in some parts of the US. I'm afraid that to us Europeans it can look very regressive and fundamentalist sometimes.
- Kate, Exeter, United Kingdom
I love this song it reminds me of good times spent dancing at my parents parties. I found this new version of her song at www.charlenehits.com. Is this her new site?
- ian, london, United Kingdom
It amazes me how many people here are criticizing this song who simply don't get it. Vomit inducing? Excuse me? It's clear to me you have not walked down paths that other people have walked otherwise you wouldn't make such an insensitive statement.

I remember 1982 when this song came first came, and I remember it very well. Why? Because I could've been that "discontented mother" and "regimented wife" that the singer was referring to. There were a number of women at that time for whom that song either struck a chord or a nerve. I found it interesting because in retrospect, the lyrics on the surface do seem somewhat corny and a bit presumptuous, but when you get to the heart of the song, you see what she is trying to convey...and it's really not about feminism or anti-feminism at all. It's about the idea held by many people, be they women or men, that the grass is seems greener on the other side, but the singer is telling us that she's been to the "other side" and that things aren't always as they seem, and that we should be grateful for what we have in life...we should embrace reality, not chase after an empty fantasy.
- Sabrina, Corvallis, OR
There is a moment in one of the "Shrek" films when Shrek goes into a bar to look for some people and one of the people in there is singing this song on stage. Then a closer look reveals a man dressed up as a woman.
I love Randy Crawford's version. She has a wonderful voice!!
- montse, verdĂș, Spain
One of the pivotal things about this song, and the reason why some dislike it so, is the monologue. It is open to interpretation. Some people simply think the protagonist is talking about the most important things in life and find it to be a comforting message. Some very feminist-minded individuals take offense to this philosophy, believing that it wants to cast women solely in the roles of subservient housewives and mothers. Charlene's first album, CHARLENE (1976), has the mononologue. The re-packaged version of what is essentially the same album, SONGS OF LOVE (1977), does not contain the spoken section as it was deemed too feminist (or perhaps anti-feminist, depending on one's perspective). When the song became a huge hit in '82, it was the version with the monologue that was being played on the radio, so that's the take that Motown re-released.

When the song laments "unborn children," you have to give some leeway for creative license. I think she's just saying she's sad because she never had any children. It doesn't need to be taken literally although you could make a case for it. The same way "regimented wife" simply is referring to her being in a rut, every day's the same, not necessarily that she is a battered woman whose whole life is dictated to her by an abusive husband. But again, some things are left open for interpretation. PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT pokes fun at the song in a way that is both humourous and affectionate.
- Alan, Northridge, CA
The flip side to the 45 was "Use to Be" Duet with Stevie Wonder. Does anyone remember? It was a good song but I can't find it anywhere.
- Barbara, Miami, FL
I always thought this was a very haunting song. A beautiful voice that came through as a woman who was strong yet almost broken from the life she choose. I could hear the hint of harlot in her voice, later shame, when she bragged about the things that she'd done. I was a child when I heard this song. Maybe 10 years old. I understood it then as I understand it now; she would have loved to trade places with that mother & wife who had no regard for the blessings in her own life. And she tried her best to warn that woman that hers had been a wasted life, that, if the woman was considering leaving her family, she would be devastated by the realization of the truth.
- Lisa, Phoenix, AZ
i just dont understand why there such people have so many comments on this song. i really love this song. this is one of my favorites. in fact, the lyrics is good, the melody is good. there are many good songs of charlene. i also like it ain't easy comin' down, use to be and there must be love somewhere in my life. this are rare good damn songs. i wish i had an album of this. sad to say, it didn't reach the album in our country. i heard this songs in the radio station way back 80's, since then i love it so much. i keep looking the album in the music store but its a " HARD TO FIND" . well, if there's someone out there that know this song, especially "there must be love somewhere in my life" please please do email me. i could die over this song.
- Shelha C. Macasero, Cagayan de Oro City, Other
WOW. I guess you can make any record and there will be fans somewhere. This is a true masterpiece in horrible music. This ranks right up there with "Feelings" for vomit inducing lyrics.
- Kevin Witt, Haymarket, VA
This is just a truly amazing song from a truly amazing film....(Priscilla, Queen of the Desert)gives me goosebumps every time I hear it!I'm divided on the line "i've been to crying for unborn children" is she suggesting that she's crying over an abortion she may have had? or that she has had too much of a pampered lifestyle to think or care about wanting children of her own? Is the song suggesting that it is an older woman telling her life story, and speaking of her regrets?? Fascinating song!!
- rob, nottinghamshire, England
Enjoyable song. I find interesting that the song is used in a feminist play, "Respect", yet it is about a lady who lives her life for herself only to find that she has missed out on the really important things that would have made her happy: the love of a man and having children.
- Bob, atlanta, GA
This song is the musical answer to "Chicken Soup for the Soul." It's a fine lesson to any of today's youths who value style over substance, pizzazz over punctuality, glitz over God.
- Mike Longtin, Orlando, FL
Hello people, nice comments! :)
I remember liking this song when I first heard it, i was just in our house, about 12 yrs old and voila! there you go...
The intro goes soft then a cool refreshing voice emerges, it captivated me...

But what more captivates me is the meaning, it haunted me till high school and tried to research its lyrics. Pretty damn deep! he he he.
I eve try to interpret this in my own during breaktime with my officemates with the song playing in background. I just realized that I got sensitive with it, and my officemates discovered that this song is cool, can be interpreted in your own democratic thinking. Its hard to find songs this kind nowadays, cool, poetic, strong convicted,...great day to all
- albert, Quezon, Other
Wow ! i din know there r so many facts and comments on a song ! I heard this song few years back and this song really did make an impact on me. 1st time i hear it, i imagine myself somewhere sipping a cup of coffee, sitting down, surrounded with people and just watch people walk pass me. I watched a movie before that says, a good song last forever.... and i guess this song really will last forever....
- obelixhubby, KL, Malaysia
There are alot of misconceptions about this song... you can read the female and male lyrics and learn more about its creation at Charlene's Official Site: www.charlenesmusic.com
- Shawn, Los Angeles, CA
To Sam, Caribou, ME - i am not going to argue re: this song's meaning. Only want to tell you that Charlene is a mother to 3 daughters - 2 of whom I know quite well (and by the way are strong Christians, beautiful, smart and talented). I attend church with her and her family every week. She's a really nice person, and very devoted to Christ. I don't think her life has been lived in the way you 'guessed' at all. Very strong judgement coming from a place of ignorance. Start your day by looking in the mirror and worrying about that person.
- Michele, Valencia, CA
To Sam, whenever a reference is made to the "unborn", please know that this without a doubt is about a woman who is with child, better known as pregnant.It's a poetic way of saying "fetus". No one politized anything. This song is a lamenting of one woman's regrets and a warning to those that desire to follow in her footsteps. This song changed my life, back in 82, when my girlfriend told me she was late.
Like the moron I was then, I ask, late for what?
Very good song structure, good melody, well arranged, but more importantly the lyric is right on, for then as well today. Peace.
- al, Lafayette, LA
A CNN poll released 4-26-2006 rated this song as 4th worst of all time, behind "You're Having My Baby," "Muskrat Love," and "You Light Up My Life."
- john, seattle, WA
I heard this song when it was first released. I was 17yrs old and planning my future.I thank God for this song ,in the beginning I played by all the rules live today for today and don't worry about the conquences.I was never happy but had a lot of fun.One night I went to bed listening to this song and had a dream (I was about to turn down my seventh marriage proposal)that all the fun I was having was like candy in a candy store,that it is only sweet for a while,and there was a bottle of vitamins on the countertop of this candy store. The voice behind the counter pushed forward the bottle of vitamins and said "candy it is sweet and fun but it only last for a short time then you have cavities,but vitamins last for a life time it takes care of you,nurtures you,take it and live".When I had awaken I then understood what Charlene was saying in that song. Today I am a bornagain Christian,and I believe God used her song to help me steer my life according to His will.I've been happily married to that man(whom I call my bottle of vitamins,my seventh proposal)for 27and half years.Today's Music should have a postive impact on it's listeners.
- pc, USA, United States
This song has really a lot of meaning in it. It can be used to guide all of us in this new milenium. Everyone is having fun and looking for materialistic without leaving behind their blood member to carry on the generation.
Azlan-Malaysia
- Azlan, malaysia, Malaysia
In 1982 i made a list of my favourite singles of all time."Ive Never Been To Me" was in second place on that list.Now,almost 24 years later it still remains in second place.A truly classic song that i never grow tired of listening to.Gavin from West Midlands,yes,she does have a marvellous voice and youre lucky to be working with her.Of all the songs ever released by female solo singers this one has never been (to me) toppled.
-Terry,Northampton,England
- Terry, Northampton, England
My friend and i have compiled a list of the 400+ worst songs of the 60's and 70's and this song is hands down the worst, most god- awful "tune" we have ever heard. i hated this song when it came out in 1977 and if you can belive it i absolutely loathe it now.
- mac, san francisco, CA
Randy Crawfords version is infinitely superior.
- DA, London, England
The song is one of my all time favorit, simply because it's an excellent demonstration of good music. Smooth melody, a great voice, and sincerely saying something in a simple yet elegant manner. I won't even care to dig into the abortion bit of it, everyone can disagree and to have different views on all sort of things. I like the song because whenever I listen to it (for well over twenty years and still feeling the same), it's like listening to Charlene confiding and telling story in her sweet voice that not just please my ears, it also touches my heart (and I might not necessarily have to agree with her, or share her feelings), just like listening to what a good old friend has to say. That's what I call good music.
- GC, Earth, United States
This song is great, but where do you people get that there's anything to do with abortion in it? She spent her life running around, living the fast life, got to menopause having neglected to ever settle down or have kids. Now she's past her prime, no one will marry her, and she's too old to have kids and has some regrets that she only lived a life of fun. "Unborn children" doesn't mean aborted children; it's just children she never had... because she was too busy partying and jetsetting. The cost of the "subtle whoring" is that she never found the true love of a faithful husband and loving family, not that she got knocked up and pulled the plug on it. The whole "never been to me" fits right in with that sense, whereas it makes no sense if you look at this as an anti-abortion song. I swear, some people need to politicize everything.
- Sam, Caribou, ME
I remember this song from when I was a kid. It seemed to me women liked it for some feminist reasons, but examining the lyrics they seem to preach the opposite of that. I never caught the abortion thing... I hated the song but thought the point was "I've done everything except get to know who I really am..", and I thought that was cool, but "the only fulfilling thing a woman can be is a mother and wife" is kinda Phyllis Schlafly conservative propaganda. You can have both an adventurous life and a family, which will probably be better of because of it.
- Leef, Baton Rouge, LA
The lyrics of this song - they are cynical right? She's singing about the great life she's had, then teaching bored and boring housewives it's not that nice after all... without any clue to why, but enough to let the gray dull girls think their life's possibly not as bad as they feel everyday.. subtle sarcasm...
If this is the way I should listen to it... great song!
- Joost, Amsterdam, Netherlands
This has got to be one of the worst, syrupy songs of all time. For sure on my top 10 worst songs of all time...and pretty close to the # 1 spot!
- Craig, San Leandro, CA
Are you sure about the chronology? I seem to remember the "short" (no spoken part) having been on LA radio first. The version that I have, from the 1980s, features a spoken passage ("Do you know what Paradise is? It's a lie, a fantasy we create about people and places as we'd like them to be . . .") which tells the younger woman to cherish her husband. The song is surprisingly inspirational, underrated, and should be included in every quickie-divorce application kit.
- Keith, SLC, UT
On an episode of Saturday Night Live, Rachel Dratch played Barbara Walters on Weekend Update. She was supposed to interview herself before she retired from 20/20. She ended the interview asking herself about her mother and made herself cry (like Barbara does to all celebrities) then ends the session singing "I've Never Been To Me." This episode was hosted by Megan Mullally (from Will & Grace.)
- Jack, Baltimore, MD
This a good song for young girls to listen to who are heading in the wrong direction in life.
- debbie, winthrop, MA
for those of you wondering what happened to charlene, she's in the studio working in england with me at the moment, and she has a truly marvellous voice!
- gavin, west midlands, England
"I wish someone had talked to me like I wanna talk to you" suggests that no-one told her how awful abortion is/was.
- gavin, sydney, Australia
My mother and I sang this song on the Magic Singalong Karaoke System because it's one of our favorite songs. I thought that it's a great song to feature in one of today's movies, but I didn't know it was already featured in one written a decade ago named The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert! Again, this is one of many songs that can warm the heart.
- Tiffany, Dover, FL
One of my favorite songs!
- Tiffany, Dover, FL
I did not like this song for a while, but I have to admit now, it's not such a bad song.
- Sarah, Ottawa, Canada
The best album of this year.
- dan, hicksville , NY
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