Carlene (song)

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Single by Phil Vassar
from the album Phil Vassar
Released October 25, 1999
Format CD Single
Recorded 1999
Genre Country
Length 4:06 (album version)
Label Arista Nashville
Writer(s) Charlie Black
Rory Michael Bourke
Phil Vassar
Producer(s) Phil Vassar
Byron Gallimore
Phil Vassar singles chronology
"Just Another Day In Paradise"

"Carlene" is a song co-written and recorded by American country music artist Phil Vassar. It was released in October 1999 as Vassar's debut single, from his self-titled debut album. "Carlene" reached a peak of number 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts, and number 45 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and it reached number 1 in Canada. Vassar wrote the song with Charlie Black and Rory Michael Bourke.


"Carlene" is a moderate up-tempo backed mainly by piano, played by Vassar. In the lyric, the narrator recalls a girl named Carlene with whom he went to high school. He recalls being an athlete who struggled with his academics, while she was the valedictorian. Now an adult, he visits the school yard, where he meets Carlene again. He tells her that she is "lookin' good". In the second verse, the two go out for a ride together and begin conversing. She reveals that she now has a Ph.D. and is modeling for Vogue, while he is a songwriter who "finally got a couple [songs] out on country radio". The single edit omits one repetition of the chorus at the end.

Collin Raye sings backing vocals on the song.[1]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Gerry Wenner. It features Vassar singing the song while playing the piano on a rooftop.

Critical reception[edit]

Country Standard Time critic George Hauenstein cited "Carlene" as a standout track on Vassar's debut album. He said that although the song did not have a traditionally country music sound, it was a "fun, up-tempo song", and that it was more lyrically substantial than most other songs on country radio at the time.[2] Vince Ripol, reviewing the album for Allmusic, also described "Carlene" favorably, calling it "boisterous" and an "immediate hit", also saying that Vassar's songwriting style recalled Tom T. Hall's story songs.[3]

Chart positions[edit]

"Carlene" debuted at number 74 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks for the week of October 30, 1999. Although Vassar had written several singles for other singers since the mid-1990s, "Carlene" is his first release as a singer.

Chart (1999–2000) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[4] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[5] 45
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[6] 5

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2000) Position
US Country Songs (Billboard)[7] 21
Preceded by
"Been There" by Clint Black with Steve Wariner
RPM Country Tracks number-one single
April 10-April 24, 2000
Succeeded by
"Been There" by Clint Black with Steve Wariner


  1. ^ Phil Vassar (CD booklet). Phil Vassar. Arista Nashville. 2000. 18891. 
  2. ^ Hauenstein, George. "Phil Vassar review". Country Standard Time. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  3. ^ Ripol, Vince. "Phil Vassar review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  4. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 9836." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. April 10, 2000. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  5. ^ "Phil Vassar Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Phil Vassar.
  6. ^ "Phil Vassar Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Phil Vassar.
  7. ^ "Best of 2000: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2000. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 

External links[edit]