Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves

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"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves"
Single by Cher
from the album Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves
B-side "He'll Never Know"
Released 1971
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1971
Genre Folk rock
Length 2:36
Label Kapp (US)
MCA (UK)
Writer(s) Bob Stone
Producer(s) Snuff Garrett
Certification Gold [1]
Cher singles chronology
"For What It's Worth"
(1969)
"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves"
(1971)
"The Way of Love"
(1972)
Alternative covers
Spanish Single

"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" is the first single released by Cher for the album of the same name, her seventh solo album. It was her first chart-topper as a solo artist in the United States. The single was certified Gold by the RIAA for the sales of over 1 million copies.

Song information[edit]

"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" was the first single from Cher's 1971 eponymous album Cher. The album was subsequently renamed and re-released as Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves after the success of the single. The song was written by songwriter Bob Stone as a story-song called "Gypsys, Tramps and White Trash". Producer Snuff Garrett advised that the title be changed and Stone then changed it to "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves". The album of the same name got very positive reviews, with the lead single being highlighted by All Music reviewer.[2]

Released four years after her last top ten hit "You Better Sit Down Kids", this song was a comeback single for Cher—it was her first single in four years to chart higher than #84—not only returning her to the top ten of the charts but also giving her two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1971. The single also reached #1 in Canada and #4 in the United Kingdom. It became Cher's best-selling single at that point, selling more than 3 million copies worldwide.[3]

The song describes the life of a girl, the narrator of the song, who was "born in the wagon of a traveling show". Her mother "used to dance for the money they'd throw", while her father would do "whatever he could; preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good". Although the people of the town insulted them with such terms suggested in the title of the song, the men paid them well "every night" for their services.

When a young man is picked up in Mobile, the narrator is 16, while he is 21. Her family took care of him for a while and allowed him to travel with them, although her father "would have shot him if he knew what he'd done" when he has sex with the narrator. Three months later, the narrator describes herself as a "gal in trouble", and her young man has disappeared.

Echoing the beginning of the song, the narrator's own daughter was "born in the wagon of a traveling show", while the narrator now dances "for the money they throw" and "Grandpa" — the narrator's own father — supported them in just the same way as before.

The title of this song has also been shown with the alternative spelling "Gypsies", this being a correct spelling of this word.

Live performances[edit]

Cher performed the song on the following concert tours:

Music video[edit]


Problems playing this file? See media help.

The video for "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" was Cher's first music video. The video was a recorded performance of the song on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in 1971. Throughout the video Cher is singing in front of a house wagon and in front of a fire. A second video was made, but it was very similar to the original. In the second video, clips of dancing female gypsies were shown.

Remix version[edit]

In 2002, a special remix medley was created by Dan-O-Rama for a video montage that was used in Cher's Living Proof: The Farewell Tour. The medley contains the videos of "All I Really Want to Do", "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves", "Half-Breed", and "Dark Lady".

Charts and certifications[edit]


Preceded by
"Maggie May" / "Reason to Believe" by Rod Stewart
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
November 6, 1971
Succeeded by
"Theme from Shaft" by Isaac Hayes
Preceded by
"Yo-Yo" by The Osmonds
Canadian RPM number one single
November 6, 1971
Succeeded by
"Imagine" by John Lennon

In popular culture and covers[edit]

  • A novelty song group "The Delegates" sampled the song on their "Convention '72" single.
  • British pop singer Cilla Black covered the song on her Day by Day with Cilla album in 1973.
  • Vicki Lawrence covered it on her album The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia in 1973.
  • Adapted and translated in French, then sung under the title Voleurs Bohémiens by Claude François in 1972.
  • Rock band Inkubus Sukkubus in 2001, it appears on their album Supernature.
  • Parodied by Nervous Gender on their Music From Hell Lp.
  • Nirvana covered the song in 1987 with some of the lyrics changed.
  • In the eleventh episode of The Simpsons' second season" called "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish" a character named Richie Sakai sings the song in the karaoke room the Simpson family visits.
  • Scud Mountain Boys on their album Pine Box in 1995.
  • The part of song was included in the fifth episode of the fifth season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files called "The Post-Modern Prometheus", with a few other Cher songs and with a Cher impersonator appearing at the end of the episode.
  • Finnish singer-songwriter Jussi Hakulinen recorderd a Finnish version "Varkaat, Kulkurit".
  • In the 13th episode from The Simpsons' fourteenth season called "A Star Is Born Again", the song is used when a mechanical Cher doll is placed to distract the paparazzi in front of Ned Flanders' house.
  • Thug Lordz feat. Killa Tay sampled it on their "Go Hard in the Paint" song from their debut album in 2004.
  • Traditional Irish band Dervish recorded the song in 2007.
  • In 2007 the French rap group IAM sampled it in their song "Une Autre Brique Dans Le Mur".
  • In 2008 Italian rap group Club Dogo sampled it in their song "Confessioni di una Banconota".
  • The John Larroquette's character sang this song in a scene in an episode of the 2000 TV-series The 10th Kingdom.
  • English punk rock band Anti-Nowhere League covered the song on their 2006 album "Pig Iron – The Album".
  • In November 2014, a mixtape by a 21-year-old Kurt Cobain containing "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves" has been released online. [12]

References[edit]

External links[edit]