Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves

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"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves"
Cher - Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves.jpg
Cover art of the German 7" vinyl
Single by Cher
from the album Chér
B-side"He'll Never Know"
ReleasedSeptember 1, 1971
StudioLarrabee Sound Studios
(Los Angeles, California)
Songwriter(s)Bob Stone
Producer(s)Snuff Garrett
Cher singles chronology
"For What It's Worth"
"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves"
"The Way of Love"

"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" is a song by American singer and actress Cher for her seventh solo studio album Chér (eventually reissued under the title Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves) (1971). It was released on September 1, 1971, by Kapp Records as the album's lead single. The song was written by Bob Stone, and produced by Snuff Garrett. Since Sonny Bono's first attempts at reviving Cher's recording career had been unsuccessful, Kapp Records recruited Garrett as her producer and he chose Stone to write a song specifically for Cher, in order to cater more to an adult audience.

Lyrically, the song describes the life of a girl who was "born in the wagon of a traveling show", and it contains themes of racism, teenage pregnancy and prostitution. Critically, "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" has been met with appreciation ever since its release. It earned Cher her first Grammy Award nomination in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category. Commercially, it became her first solo number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 and on the Canadian Singles Chart, while reaching the top five in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and United Kingdom. It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipment of one million copies across the United States. At the time of its release, "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" was the biggest-selling single in the history of MCA Records.

Cher has performed the song in several episodes of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and in six of her concert tours. "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" has been covered by a number of artists and has appeared in or been referenced in several TV shows such as The Simpsons, The X-Files and Charmed. Along with the parent album, the track has been considered a turning point in Cher's career, with critics starting to acknowledge her as an artist and credited the song for restoring her popularity, which had diminished at the end of the 1960s. Billboard magazine retrospectively called it "one of the 20th century's greatest songs".[1]

Song information[edit]

"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" was the first single from Chér with instrumental backing by L.A session musicians from the Wrecking Crew.[2] 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.[3]

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 10 of the charts but also giving her two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1971. It knocked off "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart which had spent the previous month at #1. 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.[4] As of November 2011, Billboard reported the digital sales of "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" to be 212,000 in the US.[5]

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 to Memphis, although her father "would have shot him if he knew what he'd done", implying that he had 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]

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]

In popular culture and covers[edit]

  • British pop singer Cilla Black covered the song on her 1973 album Day by Day with Cilla
  • Vicki Lawrence covered it on her 1973 album The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
  • Claude François recorded a French translation in 1972, with the title "Voleurs Bohémiens"
  • Rock band Inkubus Sukkubus recorded a version for their 2001 album Supernature
  • Nervous Gender recorded a parody, "Monsters" on their 1981 album Music from Hell
  • The song has featured in two episodes of The Simpsons: in the Season 2 episode "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish", a character named Richie Sakai sings the song in the karaoke room which the Simpson family visits; in the Season 14 episode "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
  • In 1995, Animaniacs episode 77 included a cartoon "This Pun for Hire", where Yakko, Wakko, and Dot play film noir detectives. When Yakko tells the new client to "Tell me your story, sister", Dot mistakenly thinks he is speaking to her and begins reciting the lyrics to "Gypsys, Tramps, and Thieves".
  • Scud Mountain Boys recorded a version for their 1995 album Pine Box.
  • It was one of several Cher songs included in "The Post-Modern Prometheus", from Season 5 of the American science fiction series The X-Files[20]
  • In 1999, "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves" was featured in "That '70's Episode" the 17th episode of Charmed; the song starts playing in the moment where Prue and Piper get into "Buddy's", the diner where Patty (their mom) used to work at.
  • In Thugz We Trust, a 2004 album by Thug Lordz and Killa Tay, samples it in the song "Go Hard in the Paint".
  • Traditional Irish band Dervish recorded the song for their 2007 album Travelling Show.
  • French hip hop group IAM sampled it in their 2007 song "Une Autre Brique Dans Le Mur".
  • Italian rap group Club Dogo sampled it in their 2008 song "Confessioni di una Banconota".
  • In the season 2 episode of Gilmore Girls, "The Roadtrip to Harvard", Lorelai and Rory are staying in a bed and breakfast in New Hampshire and are hiding out in their room while a group of dentists staying there sing "Gypsys, Tramps, & Thieves". When Rory wants to talk about Lorelai calling off her wedding, Lorelai shouts "We are not going to have this fight in a flowery bedroom with dentists singing "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" in the background. It's too David Lynch."
  • English punk rock band Anti-Nowhere League covered the song on their 2006 compilation album Pig Iron – The Album.
  • In November 2014, a mixtape by a 21-year-old Kurt Cobain containing "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves" was released online.[21]
  • Nirvana recorded two versions of their cover twice on two demo tapes and sometimes played the song live due to an attendee at the GESSCO May 1 show (and possibly referencing earlier shows after playing "Raunchola" at the Community World Theater in 3/19/88) in the crowd screaming the word "Gypsy", possibly referring to the song to be played. Instead, a cover of "Bad Moon Rising" was played instead.


  1. ^ Rob Tannenbaum, Rob (May 19, 2017). "Cher's 'Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves': Why It's One of the 20th Century's Greatest Songs". Billboard. Archived from the original on July 26, 2017. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  2. ^ Hartman, Kent (2012). The Wrecking Crew. St. Martin’s Griffin. pp. 261–263. ISBN 978-1-250-03046-7.
  3. ^ "Cher's Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves All Music review". All Music. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
  4. ^ "Cher's Best Selling Singles Of The Seventies". Cher News. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
  5. ^ "Ask Billboard: Cher Information, Yes?". Billboard. 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  6. ^ a b c Billboard. p. 27. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  8. ^ "The Hits of Cher: The Danish Hits of Cher". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  9. ^ Steffen Hung. "Cher - Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  10. ^ "Palmarès de la chanson anglophone et allophone au Québec" (in French). BAnQ. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  11. ^ "Cher | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  15. ^ "UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 1971 - Year End". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  16. ^ "1971". Longbored Surfer. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  17. ^ "Billboard Year-End Charts 1971" (PDF).
  18. ^ a b "American single certifications – Cher – Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  19. ^ "Ask Billboard: Cher Information, Yes?". Billboard. 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  20. ^ "The X-Files (TV Series) : The Post-Modern Prometheus (1997) : Soundtracks". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  21. ^ "Kurt Cobain's Mixtape Before Nirvana's 'Bleach' Has Surfaced [LISTEN] : Buzz". Music Times. 2014-11-03. Retrieved 2016-10-03.

External links[edit]