08 May 2023

8 May 2023 - Charlene - I've Never Been To Me

In 1976, Motown artist Charlene released a single that was widely considered to be a flop.  It reached a whopping #97 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.  

She was subsequently dropped from her label, married an Englishman, and moved to the United Kingdom to work in a sweetshop.  

The single would have been forgotten if not for a little-known DJ named Scott Shannon, at the time on the radio in Tampa, Florida.  His girlfriend loved this song, and in 1982 urged her boyfriend to play it - which he did.  Listeners loved the song, and so Shannon, who used to work for Motown Records, made a few phone calls to his old bosses about the hit potential of the song.  

So, imagie that you've left the music industry, largely feeling like you've failed, only to get a call from the president of Motown Records telling you that you weren't a failure and, indeed, he wanted to resign you to his label.  Charlene doesn't have to imagine, that, because that's what happened to her.  

The second time around, the song was a worldwide hit, hitting #3 in the US and #1 elsewhere.  It was also a crossover hit, with country radio picking up the song as well.   

The song revived her career, and although her time on Motown would only last a few more years. leaving her a one hit wonder in the US (she did have more hits in Europe), she has built a career that still continues to this day, including recording new music as of 2022.  

The song recieved something of a resurgence in 1994, with the release of the Australian movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which you should go watch right now.  This song was performed by Hugo Weaving as a female impersonator - an audience that truly embraced this song in real life.  

Unusually, Charlene did re-record the song - but only in Spanish.  This ended up being a B-side of a follow-up single, which didn't nearly match the runaway success of "I've Never Benn To Me".

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