I've Never Been to Me

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"I've Never Been to Me"
I've Never Been to Me.jpg
Single by Charlene
from the album Songs of Love (1977) and I've Never Been to Me (1982)
  • "It's Really Nice to Be in Love Again" (1977)
  • "Somewhere in My Life" (1982)
Released28 July 1977, February 1982
Length3:49 (1977)
3:47 (1982)
LabelProdigal (1977)
Motown (1982)
Songwriter(s)Ron Miller, Kenneth Hirsch
Producer(s)Ron Miller, Don Costa,
Berry Gordy
Charlene singles chronology
"I've Never Been to Me"
"Are You Free"


"I've Never Been to Me"

""Used to Be" (with Stevie Wonder)"

"I've Never Been to Me" is a ballad, written and composed by Ron Miller and Kenneth Hirsch, which is best known via a recording by American pop singer Charlene. Its original release in 1977 barely registered on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, but its re-release in 1982 hit #3 in the U.S. and earned her a Gold certification in Australia.[1] In addition, the song topped the charts in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom[2] and Ireland.


The song is best known as lyrically formatted for a female vocalist and as such is addressed to a desperate wife and mother who would like to trade her prosaic existence for the jet setting lifestyle the song's narrator has led. The narrator alludes to various hedonistic episodes in her life, concluding that while she's "been to paradise," she's ultimately failed to find self-fulfillment expressing this with the line, "I've never been to me." There is also an alternative set of lyrics for the song formatted for a male singer, in which the narrator is an elderly man, destined to die the very next day, 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.

Early versions[edit]

Charlene had recorded "I've Never Been to Me" in 1976 for her debut album, the self-titled Charlene, a Prodigal release (P6 10015S1), and the ballad contained a controversial spoken section. Songs of Love (P610018S1) came out six months later in 1977 and was essentially a re-issue of Charlene, having a slightly different track listing but retaining "I've Never Been to Me" without the spoken bridge. In October 1977, "I've Never Been to Me" became Charlene's third consecutive single to stall in the lowest part of Billboard's Hot 100. From the Charlene LP, the first single, "It Ain't Easy Comin' Down," went to #97 in March 1977 (and #23 on the AC). The following single, "Freddie" from the Songs of Love album, made it to #96 in the Hot 100 in May 1977 (and #40 on the AC). The Hot 100 peak of "I've Never Been to Me" in its original formal release without the monologue was #97 [3], and while Charlene's precedent two singles had both reached Billboard's Easy Listening chart, "I've Never Been to Me" failed to appear on the AC.

The earliest version of "I've Never Been to Me" to be released was that by Randy Crawford and appeared on her 1976 album release, Everything Must Change. Besides Charlene's version, 1977 also saw the release of versions of the song by Nancy Wilson and Walter Jackson: Nancy Wilson's version served as the title track of her June 1977 album release and was the first version of the song to be released as a single, reaching #47 on the Billboard's R&B chart, while Walter Jackson's version - featuring the lyric formatted from a male perspective - was featured on his I Want To Come Back As A Song album released in the spring of 1977.

In February 1978, a mid-tempo recording of "I've Never Been to Me" by Mary McGregor was released as the advance single from her In Your Eyes album: this single reached #29 on Billboard's Easy Listening and Canada's Adult Contemporary charts.[4] A modified version of MacGregor's version was sent out to radio stations with the possibly controversial line in the final chorus: "I spent my life exploring the subtle whoring that costs too much to be free", amended to "I thought my heart would wait but I learned too late that it costs too much to be free." Also in 1978 Marti Caine recorded "I've Never Been to Me" for her album release Behind the Smile from which it was issued as a single, and Mary Roos recorded the German rendering by lyricist Michael Kunze entitled "Doch mich selber kenn ich nicht" (But I do not know myself) for her album Maryland.


In 1982 Scott Shannon, a disc jockey at Tampa radio station WRBQ-FM, began playing the "I've Never Been to Me" track off the Charlene album (with the original recitative), and response from local listeners was such as to motivate Shannon, a former Motown employee, to alert Motown president Jay Lasker to the track's hit potential. Lasker located Charlene who, discouraged by the poor performance of her 1977 Motown releases and by the label's decision not to release a second album she had recorded, had left the music industry and met and married an Englishman, subsequently accompanying him to his native land and taking a job at a sweet shop in Ilford. Lasker personally telephoned her with the invitation to re-sign with Motown Records to facilitate the re-release of her "I've Never Been To Me" single, which was done in the spring of 1982.

The Billboard Hot 100 dated March 6, 1982, showed "I've Never Been to Me" by Charlene debuting at #84 – already 13 places higher than its 1977 peak in its original release. It subsequently rose as high as #3 on the Hot 100, where it held for three weeks during May and June.[5] The track had even greater impact internationally, attaining #1 status in Australia (six weeks), Canada (four weeks), Ireland (three weeks), and the United Kingdom.[2] "I've Never Been to Me" also afforded Charlene a Top Ten hit in Belgium (Flemish Region) (#7), the Netherlands (#7), New Zealand (#5), and Norway (#5). In 1982, Charlene's "I've Never Been to Me" was also a Top 10 hit on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart (#7) and a minor C&W chart crossover (#60).

When the song was revived in 1982, the version being played on the radio was the take with the monologue (from the Prodigal LP Charlene, P6 10015S1), so this was the one that Motown re-issued, not the Songs of Love single version from 1977 (Prodigal, P610018S1).[6][7] The song was never actually re-recorded by Charlene in 1982.

As Charlene was unable to successfully follow up the success of "I've Never Been to Me" – her only subsequent Hot 100 entry "Used to Be" (a duet with Stevie Wonder) got as high as #46 – she remains a high-profile one-hit wonder. On the 2002 VH1 special 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders, "I've Never Been to Me" was ranked at #75.[8] In the program, it was stated that her entry "expresses the post-'70s hangover."

Chart history[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Nancy Wilson
Chart (1977) Peak
US Billboard R&B 47
Chart (1977) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 97
Mary MacGregor
Chart (1978) Peak
Canada RPM Adult Contemporary[10] 29
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[11] 29

Other versions[edit]

A Spanish language recording of "I've Never Been to Me" entitled "Nunca He Ido A Mi" was recorded by Charlene and was one of two B-side tracks featured on the re-release of "It Ain't Easy Comin' Down" - the followup to the 1982 release of "I've Never Been to Me" - in its UK format (in other territories "It Ain't Easy Comin' Down" featured only the one B-side "If I Could See Myself").

Charlene re-released the song in the form of a dance remix via download music in 2008.

English cover versions[edit]

  • The Temptations recorded "I've Never Been to Me" with the male-formatted lyrics on their Reunion album in 1982.
  • Howard Keel recorded "I've Never Been to Me" with the male-formatted lyrics for his album Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Keel made this song a staple of his live concerts from 1985-2002.
  • Dutch singer Patricia Paay recorded the song for her 1995 English-language album Time of My Life comprising songs from movies, "I've Never Been to Me" being the opening number in the film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
  • Tracy Huang Ying Ying, a famous Taiwanese diva, covered this song in 1978 and she is better known for this song in Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of Asia than the original singer. This version replaces the words "subtle whoring" with "inner feelings."
  • Neds Atomic Dustbin covered the song for the 1992 compilation Ruby Trax. It was also included on their 1994 album 0.522.
  • Taiwanese girl group S.H.E included a cover on their 2002 album, Youth Society.
  • A hi-NRG/eurodance cover of the song by Rainbow Nation featuring Monica Dionne was released as a single through Almighty Records in 2003. An audio sample can be heard on the official Almighty Records website.[32]
  • J-pop singer Yuki Koyanagi recorded a Japanese-language cover. It was included on the "Love Knot-Ai No Kizuna" single from 2004. She sang it in English as well.
  • Japanese musical actress Seiko Niizuma covered the song on her live album "LIVE MOMENTS" in 2013.

Non-English cover versions[edit]


  • Czech: "Já Slyšel O Ráji" - I heard about paradise - recorded by Karel Gott for his 1983 album release ...a to mám rád.
  • Dutch: "Ik moet leren" ("I need to learn") recorded by Garry Hagger (nl) for his 1996 album release Het allermooiste.
  • Finnish: "En tunne itseäin" ("I do not know myself") recorded by Seija Simola in 1984. It was released as a single, as well as on the compilation Jokamiehen suosikit 10.
  • German:
    • "Ich hab' ins Paradies geseh'n (I've peeked into paradise)" 1982 single release for Paola
    • "Doch mich selber kenn ich nicht" (But I do not know myself - lyric by Michael Kunze) - introduced by Mary Roos on her 1978 album Maryland - remade by Leonard for his 2001 Rhythmus der nacht album.
    • "De Wind vun Hamborg" (the breeze of Hamburg) a "Plattdüütsch" (Low German) rendering recorded by Ina Müller in 2009 having been a staple of Müller's live act for several years. Müller is herself the lyricist for this rendering radically reinvents the original English song relating the singer's experiences during her travels of Northern Germany and concluding that the most happy times have always been when she felt the breeze of Hamburg blowing, thereby transporting the sentiment of there being no place like home.
  • Swedish: "Jag har sett himmelen" (I have seen heaven) recorded by Kikki Danielsson for her 1983 album "Singles Bar".[33]


  • Chinese:
    • Vivian Chow's Cantonese version "孤單的心痛" (lit.The solitary heartache) is a Cantopop love song based on I've Never Been to Me.
    • 三月的玫瑰" (lit. Rose of March), performed by Taiwanese singer, Jin Rei-Yao (金瑞瑤).
    • Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng recorded versions of this song both in Mandarin and in English
  • Japanese: There are two different versions of the lyrics in Japanese. One largely follows the original theme, while a newer version has completely different lyrics written by Keiko Aso(麻生圭子) with the title "LOVE IS ALL ~愛を聴かせて~"(Love is All -Let me hear your love-). Japanese female singer Megumi Shiina(椎名恵) recorded it for a TV period drama of the unrequited love between Takeda Shingen's daughter and Oda Nobunaga's son. The latter, positive version is often used as a wedding song in Japan; the chorus line "never been to me" is replaced with "my love is true".
  • Korean: "As One" (애즈 원), South Korean female duo, Crystal (Dahee Chae 채다희) and Min (Minyoung Lee 이민영). Lyric by Sara Yun (윤사라), and re-arranged by Jaehong Shin (신재홍). Album Day by day, released on November 11, 1999.
  • Vietnamese: "Thiên Đường Ảo" ("Virtual Heaven") was written and sung by Vân Quỳnh.

Parodies and references[edit]

  • It was covered by Irish TV puppet Dustin the Turkey (from the children's TV series The Den) with re-worked lyrics on his album Unplucked. This version replaces the title with a claim that Dustin has "never been to Meath."
  • WLW Radio in Cincinnati (The Gary Burbank Show) played a parody called "Never Been To Xenia" in the 1980s.
  • Filipino singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid recorded a cover of the song with the lyrics sung from a second-person point of view.
  • The Kinsey Sicks performed a parody called "I've Been Through Parasites (Never Had VD)" which appears on their album, I Wanna Be A Republican.
  • The British comedy series Absolutely Fabulous referenced the song when main character Edina Monsoon was contemplating an extended spiritual retreat, saying that "I've never been to me."
  • It is humorously mentioned early in the 2015 comedy film Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.
  • In 2015, on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Fallon performed a lip synched version of the song.
  • on the South Park episode Christian rock hard, Cartman band parodies the song and changes the title to "I wasn’t born again yesterday"


  • Australian artist Ben Lee sampled the song for his track "No Room to Bleed," from his album hey you. yes you., which he released in 2002.
  • Polish producer Lubay featured the 1982 sample for an unreleased tune to be used as a soundtrack in 2006, as it states on his Soundcloud profile [1].

Live cover performances[edit]

  • It has been covered live by Korean female duo As One in English with the original lyrics, and in Korean with completely rewritten lyrics.
  • K-pop and J-pop singer Younha sung a cover of the song in English on the Korean TV program "Music Travel Lalala".

Appearances / references in other media[edit]


  1. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1982-12-25. Retrieved 2014-03-29.
  2. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 410. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ "Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1978-05-06. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  5. ^ "Charlene". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  6. ^ "Charlene - Charlene". Discogs. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Charlene - Songs Of Love". Discogs. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  8. ^ "I've Never Been To Me enjoys a new release". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  9. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  10. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1978-05-06. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 146.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc)|format= requires |url= (help). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ "Ultratop.be – Charlene – I've Never Been to Me" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  14. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1982-06-12. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  15. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1982-07-03. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  16. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – I've Never Been to Me". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  17. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Charlene – I've Never Been to Me" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  18. ^ "Charts.nz – Charlene – I've Never Been to Me". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  19. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Charlene – I've Never Been to Me". VG-lista. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  20. ^ "Charlene: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  21. ^ "Charlene Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  22. ^ "Charlene Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  23. ^ "Charlene Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  24. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 6/05/82". Tropicalglen.com. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Item Display - AMR Top Singles of 1982".
  26. ^ "Item Display - Top 100 Singles of 1982 in Canada".
  27. ^ Stichting Nederlandse Top 40. "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1982". Top40.nl. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  28. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1982 - The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  29. ^ Rees, Dafydd; Lazell, Barry; Jones, Alan (1983). "The Top 100 UK Singles". Chart File Volume 2. London, England: Virgin Books. pp. 80–81. ISBN 0-907080-73-1.
  30. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1982/Top 100 Songs of 1982". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  31. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1982". Tropicalglen.com. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  32. ^ "Almighty Records.com | Rainbow Nation feat. Monica Dionne | I've Never Been To Me". AlmightyRecords.com. 2010-10-27. Archived from the original on 2010-10-27. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  33. ^ "Information at Svensk mediedatabas". Smdb.kb.se. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  34. ^ Guterman, Jimmy and O'Donnell, Owen. The Worst Rock n' Roll Records Of All Time (Citadel Press, 1991.)
  35. ^ "Paul Anka wins worst song poll by CNN". UPI.com. 2006-04-27. Retrieved 2012-01-11.

External links[edit]