No Charge

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"No Charge"
Melba Montgomery-No Charge.jpg
Melba Montgomery's 1974 album No Charge
Single by Melba Montgomery
from the album No Charge
A-side"No Charge"
B-side"I Love Him Because He's That Way"
ReleasedApril 1974
RecordedJanuary 1974
GenreCountry, Pop
LabelElektra 45883
Songwriter(s)Harlan Howard
Producer(s)Pete Drake
Melba Montgomery singles chronology
"He'll Come Home"
"No Charge"
"Your Pretty Roses Come Too Late"

"No Charge"' is a country music song, written by songwriter Harlan Howard. It was made famous in North America by country singer Melba Montgomery, whose 1974 version was a #1 country hit in both the US and Canada, as well as making #39 on the US pop charts. In the UK, the song is associated with J.J. Barrie, whose 1976 cover was a #1 UK hit.

About the song[edit]

Melba Montgomery had already recorded a series of duets hits with country music artists George Jones, Charlie Louvin, and Gene Pitney during the 1960s (the most successful of those being "We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds" with Jones). In the early 1970s, she began focusing on a solo career, but did not have notable success.

Eventually, she began recording for Elektra Records, where her struggles continued. Then, Howard forwarded a song to Montgomery he thought would be perfect for her: "No Charge." She recorded "No Charge" in early 1974, and it was released that April. By the end of May, Montgomery enjoyed her first taste of solo success, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart.[1] The song also reached No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2]

Commenting on the record to Tom Roland in The Billboard Book of Number One Country Hits, Harlan Howard said, "I've never written a song that moves people so much. I've had guys tell me they almost wrecked their truck when they heard it 'cause it made them cry. I had a lot of delightful records in many different languages on that song, but I guess that's probably my favorite song as far as impact is concerned."[3]


A young boy hands his mother an itemized list of charges he says he's owed for performing various chores and comes to collect; the singer performs this in spoken word. The mother responds (singing) by reminding her son about all the things she's done for him, that she never asked him to pay for services rendered and that, all things considered, "the cost of real love is no charge."

Enlightened, the young boy realizes that his mother is right and changes the amount due to "paid in full" (once again, narrated) before the singer sings the moral. "No Charge" was one of the few songs that talked about motherhood during this time, which might be one of the reasons why it was so popular.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1974) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 39
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 47
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 24

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been recorded by numerous other artists since its release by Montgomery. The most successful version was recorded by J. J. Barrie, who took the Bill Amesbury produced song to No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in June 1976, where it remained for one week.[4][5][6]

In Canada the song is often associated with Tommy Hunter who performed the song on the CBC Television show.

Fellow country singers Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette recorded versions of the song in the 1970s. It has also been a popular Christian song through the years, most famously performed by Shirley Caesar, who added to the moral by recalling Jesus' sacrifice for humanity.

Billy Connolly recorded a parody of the song in 1976 called "No Chance (No Charge)",[7] which had a reference to domestic violence. It reached a Top 40 position in the UK chart.

C. C. (Chris) Sandford recorded a comedy version in 1976 entitled: No Charge (Chuck) (UK: Power Exchange Records PX 223)


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 236.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 435.
  3. ^ Roland, Tom, "The Billboard Book of Number One Country Hits" (Billboard Books, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1991 (ISBN 0-82-307553-2), p. 112
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 43. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  5. ^ - accessed October 2009 Archived June 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 327. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. ^ Double, Oliver (1997). Stand Up! On Being A Comedian. A&C Black. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-413-70320-0. ....Billy Connolly had three chart hits, 'D.I.V.O.R.C.E.', which reach number one in 1975, 'No Chance (No Charge)' in 1976, and 'In The Brownies' in 1979.