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)
Writer(s) Bob Stone
Producer(s) Snuff Garrett
Certification Gold [1]
Cher singles chronology
"For What It's Worth"
"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves"
"The Way of Love"
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".

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 4.5 million copies worldwide.[2]

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"[3] 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 of course being a correct spelling of this word, which can also be spelt "Gipsies", but never "Gypsys".

The lyrics of the song are often ridiculed for their claim to have "picked up a boy just south of Mobile", the idea being that "just south of Mobile" is somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, there are at least six small communities directly south of Mobile on the west side of the bay, and twice that many on the east side.

The song has been adopted by Clyde F.C., a Scottish football team whose fans are known as "The Gypsy Army", and the song is played before the kickoff of home matches at Broadwood Stadium.

English punk rock band Anti-Nowhere League covered the song on their 2006 album "Pig Iron – The Album".

The song was featured in an episode of the popular British motoring show Top Gear, in which the hosts traveled to Miami to purchase a car for $1000 and go on a road trip. The song played when the hosts were crossing into Alabama as a joke.

In the 2000 TV mini-series The 10th Kingdom, John Larroquette's character sings this song to a group of gypsys after they threaten to kill him if he does not sing.

Live performances[edit]

Cher performed the song on the following concert tours:

Music video[edit]

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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]

Annual charts[edit]

Country (1971) Position
Canada 1
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

Cover versions[edit]

  • The song was covered by British pop singer Cilla Black.
  • The song was covered by Vicki Lawrence on her album The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia in 1973.
  • The song was adapted and translated in French, then sung under the title Voleurs Bohémiens by Claude François in 1972.
  • The song was covered by rock band Inkubus Sukkubus in 2001, it was contained in their album Supernature.
  • The song has been parodied by Nervous Gender on their Music From Hell Lp.
  • The song was covered by Nirvana in 1987 with some of the lyrics changed.
  • The song was covered by Scud Mountain Boys on their album Pine Box in 1995.
  • It was also covered in 1997, possibly in response to Nirvana's cover ten years earlier, by Anti-Nowhere League in their album Scum.
  • Finnish singer-songwriter Jussi Hakulinen recorderd a Finnish version "Varkaat, Kulkurit"
  • Traditional Irish band Dervish recorded the song in 2007 and frequently includes it in their concerts.
  • 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 song was covered by John Larroquette in The 10th Kingdom.


External links[edit]