The episode: “Rocketship X-M,” ep. 201
The riff: One of the first phrases spoken by Kevin Murphy as Tom Servo in this, his debut episode on MST3k. Joel and Tom are trying out Tom’s “new voice” when the red robot has this particular realization.
The explanation: This is a reference to the oft-derided pop ballad “I’ve Never Been to Me,” made famous by country/pop singer “Charlene” in 1982 when it hit #3 on the Billboard 100. The song has a complicated history: It was first recorded by Randy Crawford in 1976 before Charlene recorded her own version the same year. The song was not a hit, and in the years that followed other recordings were made by artists such as Nancy Wilson, Walter Jackson and Mary MacGregor. These set the table for a re-release of the Charlene version of the song in 1982, and it promptly exploded. She never had any comparable success again, making her a true one-hit wonder. The line about a seemingly successful woman pining for simpler times, saying “I’ve never been to me,” was highly parodied–I remember it being in this Simpsons episode in particular.
Novelty factor: I’ve heard this phrase used on numerous occasions, but I never actually knew where it was from.