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  1. #1
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    Motown hitmaker Charlene returns 40 years after breakout hit

    From SoulTracks.com-
    Back in 1982, one of the most unlikely hits shot to the top of the pop and R&B charts. “I’ve Never Been To Me” was a sensitive, introspective ballad from the female perspective that had been released five years earlier and stiffed, only to return as a smash due to some perceptive disc jockeys around the US and Europe who knew a hit when they heard one. The singer was Charlene Oliver [aka Charlene], and “I’ve Never Been To Me” became her signature song and lone Top 40 hit.
    Fast forward forty years, and Charlene, now living in Texas, is back, teamed with UK-based singer, songwriter and producer Paul Stuart Davies, who has shown a penchant for recreating the vibe of early soul and doo wop classics, all brought forward to a new generation of listeners.

    The result of their collaboration is “Fairytale Life,” a tale of love gone sour, and the plan by the singer to shake that love off, and find a new life on the other side of the country. The song has a definite early Motown vibe with even a touch of 50s pop, and the two artists blend nicely to provide a single with a nostalgic charm to it.

    Listen to 'Fairytale Life' at SoulTracks.com-
    Motown hitmaker Charlene returns 40 years after breakout hit | SoulTracks - Soul Music Biographies, News and Reviews

  2. #2
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    Just checked the Soul Tracks.com site and they've removed the article they had about Charlene. Don't know if they did this to correct the piece or if the news is invalid.

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    I actually like some of Charlene's Motown material. Oddly, I've always known her as Charlene Duncan, although she's referred to above as Charlene Oliver. Where did that come from?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    I actually like some of Charlene's Motown material. Oddly, I've always known her as Charlene Duncan, although she's referred to above as Charlene Oliver. Where did that come from?
    According to Wikipedia, Charlene was born Charlene Marilynn D'Angelo. Later on she used her married name, Charlene Duncan. She is currently married to Jeff Oliver so now she's using the name Charlene Oliver.

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    She’s been Duncan, she’s been Oliver, and she’s been just plain ‘Charlene’.

    But she’s never been Tome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    According to Wikipedia, Charlene was born Charlene Marilynn D'Angelo. Later on she used her married name, Charlene Duncan. She is currently married to Jeff Oliver so now she's using the name Charlene Oliver.
    Thanks, Motown Eddie! That explains it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    She’s been Duncan, she’s been Oliver, and she’s been just plain ‘Charlene’.

    But she’s never been Tome.
    HaHa! Good one, Boogie!

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    Hee haw !

    take care my friend

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    “I’ve Never Been To Me” - one of the dumbest songs I’ve ever heard and one of the worst things Motown ever released. How that song became a hit is beyond me. It’s an instance where the general public thinks a piece of crap is a piece of candy.

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    Ive Never Been To Me is up there with Your Having My Baby in terms of pure crap and nonsense. LOL

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    What is it about this song that people don’t like? Most, if not all the comments about this song being terrible are from this forum. Is it a Motown/Soulful Detroit thing? If you read comments outside of this forum, like on YouTube, this song is loved by many. So what say you Soulful Detroiters?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roberta75 View Post
    Ive Never Been To Me is up there with Your Having My Baby in terms of pure crap and nonsense. LOL
    I think we are being a little hard on her, I grew to like Never Been To Me. Ron Miller wrote songs with rather deep lyrics. It's about a woman coming of age and realizing the time she wasted.

    Dennis Edwards did a good job with it, I think it is on the Temptations Reunion lp.

    I preferred It Ain't Easy Comin' Down and Freddie of her earlier material. I didn't find her to be much of a singer, a soft pleasant voice a la Dusty Springfield. Berry Gordy put a lot of time into developing her but nothing happened until a Florida DJ resurrected Never Been To Me five or so years later. He started playing it and it exploded. Motown had to find Charlene and put her back under contract. She had left the biz and I think was living in England.

    Now her last Motown lp Hit and Run Lover? Now that was crap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by khansperac View Post
    What is it about this song that people don’t like? Most, if not all the comments about this song being terrible are from this forum. Is it a Motown/Soulful Detroit thing? If you read comments outside of this forum, like on YouTube, this song is loved by many. So what say you Soulful Detroiters?
    For one, the title makes no sense. "I've never been to me"... what the hell does that mean? Second, it just plods along and doesn't go anywhere. You can explain the whole story of the song in one verse. Plus it's so overly sentimental and so much schmaltz. Third, Charlene's voice doesn't really do the song any favors. Her voice is nice, but bland. She could be anyone.

    What was it the public liked about this song but didn't like about "Surrender," "I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do The Walking," "[[It's The Way) Natured Planned It"? All of which were far superior songs that didn't rise to the top like they should have.
    Last edited by bradsupremes; 09-23-2022 at 10:00 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Hee haw !

    take care my friend
    You, too, Buddy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bradsupremes View Post
    For one, the title makes no sense. "I've never been to me"... what the hell does that mean? Second, it just plods along and doesn't go anywhere. You can explain the whole story of the song in one verse. Plus it's so overly sentimental and so much schmaltz. Third, Charlene's voice doesn't really do the song any favors. Her voice is nice, but bland. She could be anyone.

    What was it the public liked about this song but didn't like about "Surrender," "I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do The Walking," "[[It's The Way) Natured Planned It"? All of which were far superior songs that didn't rise to the top like they should have.
    Perhaps 'ya need to hear Nancy Wilson sing the song. Quite simply, 'I've Never Been To Me' means that the narrator has spent their life being what other people thought the narrator should have been, not what the narrator themself wanted for theirself. The lyric elaborates that regardless of the depth of life experience one amasses it's still possible that one has not examined their own interior life and, hence, has not truly lived.

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    As an addendum, it could be said that the song is a 70's feminist rendering of Socrates' statement that 'the unexamined life is not worth living'. The first stanza of the lyric states this quite clearly, with the narrator [somewhat 'bitch-ely', imo ...) castigating a mother and wife for wishing that her life was less 'disconted' and 'regimented'. The narrator proceeds to read the mother/wife to sheer and utter filth on a shoe's sole for not understanding that external success and experience does not equate internal peace and happiness. It's all in the first stanza. I recall seeing Nancy Wilson sing the song at NYC's [then) Avery Fisher Hall and she did the deed for sure.

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    I like the song very much. I sent it to Brother Russ for a comment, and he wasn´t happy with the mix. I think it is just fine. But that is Russ. Nice work to all involved.
    Last edited by ralpht; 09-25-2022 at 09:55 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    I like the song very much. I sent it to Brother Russ for a comment, and he wasn´t happy with the mix. I think it is just fine. But that is Russ. Nice work to all involved.
    Are you familiar with Nancy Wilson's version, Ralph? And do you recall what brought Charlene to Motown?

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    No, I am not familiar with the Nancy Wilson version. She is a fav of mine for years.

    Not sure who brought her to Motown, but Russ produced an album on her. Not sure what came of that.
    Last edited by ralpht; 09-25-2022 at 10:42 AM.

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    In some ways the song offers a similar sentiment to "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd. They don't quite sound the same, however!

    FWIW I suspect that Dusty could have sung "I've Never Been To Me" well, but I doubt that Charlene could have sung most of Dusty's hits as well as Dusty did. "Soft and pleasant" was just a small part of Dusty's vocal arsenal.

    Funnily, I had a promo copy of "I've Never Been To Me" when it was first released in the UK [on Prodigal IIRC] but I gave it away to a ladyfriend as it wasn't my style of music and also wouldn't have gotten played by me at my mobile gigs. When it eventually became a hit I had to laugh at my earlier self.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    Perhaps 'ya need to hear Nancy Wilson sing the song. Quite simply, 'I've Never Been To Me' means that the narrator has spent their life being what other people thought the narrator should have been, not what the narrator themself wanted for theirself. The lyric elaborates that regardless of the depth of life experience one amasses it's still possible that one has not examined their own interior life and, hence, has not truly lived.

    it's not about having spent a life being what others thought she should have been,

    it's about her own carnal choices she made for herself that took her to "paradise" but now later in life, she wishes instead of whoring [its in the lyrics] , she'd had kids ....family ...

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    Soul Tracks has reposted their article about Charlene and her latest song "Fairytale Life" [with Paul Stewart Davies].


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    Well, it's bouncy. And they sing better than I do. Gotta go ...

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    "She’s been Duncan, she’s been Oliver, and she’s been just plain ‘Charlene’.

    But she’s never been Tome."

    Brilliant!

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    I think the song simply means that her life was unfulfilled because she gave up her true spiritual side in favour of the material world.

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