Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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I’ve Never Been to Me

First recorded by Randy Crawford (1976).
Hit versions by Nancy Wilson (R&B #47 1977), Mary McGregor (MOR #29 1978), Charlene (US #97 1977 |US #3/MOR #7/C&W #60/UK #1/CAN #1/IRE #1/AUS #1 1982).
Also recorded by The Temptations (1984).

From the wiki: “‘I’ve Never Been to Me’ is the title of a ballad, written and composed by Ron Miller and Kenneth Hirsch in 1976 and first recorded by Randy Crawford on her 1976 album Everything Must Change. The song is best known as lyrically formatted for a female vocalist (see below for male-oriented arrangement) 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.

“Nancy Wilson’s cover was the first version of the song to be released as a single, serving as the title track of her June 1977 album, reaching #47 on the Billboard’s R&B chart.

“Charlene’s ‘I’ve Never Been to Me’ had two releases between 1976-1977. The first, in 1976 for her debut album, the self-titled Charlene, was recorded with a spoken bridge. (This would be the version that saw its subsequent re-release in 1982.) When her next album, Songs of Love, was released six months later, the song was added without the spoken bridge. It was this version that was first released as a promotional single, in September 1977, and it became Charlene’s third consecutive single to stall in the lowest reaches of the Hot 100 in Billboard (#97).

“Meanwhile, 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> It became a modest hit, reaching #29 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart.

“In 1982 Scott Shannon, a disc jockey at Tampa radio station WRBQ, began playing the “I’ve Never Been to Me” track off the Charlene album (at the request of his girlfriend), 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 candy store in Ilford. Lasker located Charlene and 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 peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 for three weeks. The track had even greater impact internationally, attaining #1 status in Australia (six weeks), Canada (four weeks), Ireland (three weeks), and the United Kingdom. ‘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).

“There is also an alternate 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. The Temptations, in 1982, released this male-oriented arrangement on their Reunion album.”

Nancy Wilson, “I’ve Never Been to Me” (1977):

Charlene, “I’ve Never Been to Me” original w/ spoken bridge (1976, re-release 1982):

Charlene, “Ive Never Been to Me” w/o spoken bridge (1977):

Mary McGregor, “I’ve Never Been to Me” (1978):

The Temptations, “I’ve Never Been to Me” (1984):

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