Saturday, February 15, 2014

Something else on which Jerry Coyne and I disagree

Jerry Coyne lists his "worst songs ever". #2 is ... Charlene's "I've never been to me".


It one of my favorite songs ever!

I’ll never forget the first time I heard this song: I was driving with my girlfriend to Death Valley along route 395, skirting the spectacular eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada. (That, by the way, is my favorite road in the U.S., at least the stretch from Reno to Lone Pine.) Climbing one of the small hills on that road, we heard this song on the radio. It was so absolutely dreadful, so cloying in its lyrics, that I almost stopped the car in horror. It must have been 1982, for that’s when this musical travesty, by Charlene, was released for the second time.
I'll never forget the first time I heard this song. I was walking in Manhattan with my girlfriend (also circa 1982) and we heard it on the radio. I was mesmerized. I told her it was a beautiful song. She detested it (we broke up few months later, not because of the song).

I love the melody, and the lyrics are profound and countercultural. A woman who had lived her life on the fast side-- sleeping around, chasing glamour and wealth and novelty-- is giving advice to a young mother who feels trapped. She says that what really matters is family and love and commitment, not the "subtle whoring" of the fast life.

Very countercultural. Leagues better than most of the swill the Beatles wrote.

Interestingly, my girlfriend at the time was a bit like the woman in the song-- she craved the fast life and excitement, and she clearly felt the song an affront. I remember thinking to myself at the time "of course she wouldn't like this song."

The last verse:
But you know what truth is?
It’s that little baby you’re holding, and it’s that man you fought with this morning
The same one you’re going to make love with tonight. That’s truth, that’s love 
Sometimes I’ve been to cryin’ for unborn children
That might have made me complete
But I, I took the sweet life and never knew I’d be bitter from the sweet
I spent my life exploring the subtle whoring that cost too much to be free 
Hey lady, I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me

 A lot of truth. A beautiful melody. I love the song . Coyne and I disagree on so much. 


  1. I think you're both wrong. Having just listened to it for the first time, I wouldn't list it as one of the worst songs. Nor one of the best songs. It's just 'mostly harmless'.

    On my list of best songs, I'd list 'Wuthering Heights', 'You're So Vain' and 'Eleonor Rigby'. On my list of worst songs I'd include 'They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-ha' and 'Schnappi, das kleine Krokodil'.

    You're just wrong about 'the Beatles'. There aren't many pop groups that managed to get listed in 'Gramophone', a Penguin guide to classical music recordings, with some of their albums being given 3 (the maximum) stars.

  2. How abot this lovely song from Russia....includes lyrics if you want to sing along.

    Trololo Man

    Jerry Coyne is a gift. Him and John Loftus are more irritating anti religion people than Dawkins.
    I suggest scientists create hybrid between Coyne and Loftus and name it Coytus. If they add Dawkins to the hybrid it should be named Da Coytus.

    1. Eugen,

      How would you know that Jerry Coyne irritates atheists? I don't find him irritating. I look at his blog, and if a thread is of no interest to me, or I disagree with it, I ignore it.

  3. As a piece of music, I don't much care for it (perhaps without that damned drum-machine it would be ok).

    But I do agree, the message in the song is truth and is something that everyone, both male and female (*) needs to understand and take to heart.

    (*) I have a very hard time thinking of most of the so-called adults in today's society as men and women

  4. I never heard that song before- never heard of the artist. Weird

    But please leave the Beatles alone. They wrote "Nowhere Man" for people like Coyne

  5. There is a equation for great songs. Simply if lots of people like them 20 years after the song became known equals a great or good song.
    Its impossible to say songs are bad that are popular twenty years later.
    This because all music only works based on common principals in human thought.

    Music is just, remember Herbert Spencer, the mimicking of our tones of voice. Singing is just stretching our words. All is just a spectrum in using sounds to express human thoughts.
    Its literally impossible for people to have different conclusions on music save on different appreciation of tones of music based on ones heartfelt attitudes.
    Music only works upon common consent.
    Music is just our thoughts or a copy of thoughts being pressed on our thoughts.
    Music is just like movies or plays. Thats the buzz.
    Its all really just showing we live by hair triggers in our hearts.
    Music is just being very sensitive like having ones foot tickled.
    Its really a fake stimulus but still makes you move.