Gypsy Woman (Crystal Waters song)

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"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)"
Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless) (Crystal Waters single - cover art).jpg
Single by Crystal Waters
from the album Surprise
A-side "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Radio Mix) (U.S.)
B-side "Tell Me" (U.S.)
"Good Lovin'" (UK)
Released April 3, 1991
Recorded 1990
Genre House
Length 3:45
Label Mercury
PolyGram Records
Songwriter(s) Neal Conway
Crystal Waters
Nathaniel S. Hardy, Jr.
Producer(s) The Basement Boys
Crystal Waters singles chronology
"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)"
"Makin' Happy"
"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)"
"Makin' Happy"
Music video
"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" on YouTube

"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (also released as "Gypsy Woman (La da dee la da da)") is a 1991 house music song by American singer Crystal Waters. It is famous for its "la da dee, la dee da" refrain and its often-sampled keyboard riff. The song is widely regarded as one of the biggest house music classics and has been remixed several times.

Background and release[edit]

Crystal Waters grew up in a very musical family. Her great aunt, Ethel Waters was a famous singer and actor in the 1940s. Waters' father was a jazz musician and her uncle was the lead saxophonist with MFSB. At age eleven she began writing poetry and took her writing seriously enough to be inducted into the American Poetry Society when she was 14, the youngest person ever to receive that honor.

After studying business and computer science at the university, she worked for the DC government, in the computer division, issuing arrest warrants. A workmate's cousin owned a recording studio and Waters found out that they needed backing singers. She went down, got the job and became a writer and backup singer. At a conference in Washington DC she met the house-music production team Basement Boys. They wanted her to write some House songs for them while keeping her jazz influences intact.[1] The first two songs she wrote were "Makin' Happy" and "Gypsy Woman".[2]

"Gypsy Woman" was written by Waters with Neal Conway and Nathaniel S. Hardy, Jr. and was originally written for the American singer Ultra Naté, but when Waters recorded a demo herself, the production company drew up a recording contract for her on the spot and never passed the song to its intended vocalist. The song is about a homeless woman who still wears make-up and thinks of herself as beautiful despite busking on a street corner. The song includes the chorus of "La da dee, la da da" and a much-sampled organ refrain. It was released as the first single from her 1991 debut album, Surprise.

Waters began working on the song after receiving beats from her producers she was supposed to write lyrics over. It was the song's heavy bass line that inspired her to riff "la da dee la da da" overtop of the rhythm, but she had trouble coming up with lyrics to match those short syllables. "I said to myself there must be someone singing it, and I thought of this woman ... she used to stand downtown on the corners, and she was dressed in all black," she told the Glitterbox Radio Show in 2017.[1]

In an 2016 interview Waters expanded on the story behind how she came up with the lyrics for the song:

When it comes to the song itself, the lyrics came straight out of reality. It's about a woman who stood in front of the Mayflower hotel in Washington, DC, on Connecticut Avenue. My sister worked in the hotel and I'd walk past this woman around once a week, and she looked fine. She didn't look like she was homeless. She always had a full face of makeup and black clothes and she'd be singing these gospel songs. I used think, "Well, why don't you go and get a job instead of asking me for money?" Then there was an article on her in the paper! It said she'd just lost her job in retail, and she said that she thought if she was going to ask people for money then she should at least look presentable. And that changed my idea of homelessness. It could happen to anyone. Before that, I just had to hook down. Then I read that and the lyrics came to me. Like she was singing it.[2]

Even though the sound was a huge dance hit, Crystal Waters wanted people to listen to the lyrics about homelessness. She actually was upset that they weren't listening to the lyrics. At her prompting, the record company put a label with the addition of "She's Homeless" on the cover.[3]

A year after its release, a new version turned up on the Red Hot Organization's Red Hot + Dance AIDS fundraiser disc (1992, distributed by Sony Music), gaining its remixer, Joey Negro his first real American exposure.

Impact and legacy[edit]

Slant Magazine ranked the song 48th in its 100 Greatest Dance Songs list in 2006, adding:

Crystal Waters's thick-ankled house anthem takes the baton of social consciousness from the likes of Machine. And just as "There But for the Grace of God Go I" makes its pungent point clear through its musical prickliness, "Gypsy Woman" sets its portrait of a crusty, haphazardly made-up bag lady begging dementedly on street corners to the Basement Boys' unforgivingly brutish, mongoloid thump. As Crystal's first-person protagonist stands there, singing for money, her lah-dah-dees are nearly buried in the brackish clatter, subtly expressing the heartbreaking fact that the plight of the homeless often falls on completely deaf (sometimes ringing) ears. Waters's astringent message was delivered to a club clientele that had become too pathologically petrified of breaking a sweat, canting a weave, or otherwise allowing themselves to get ugly to actually set foot on any dance floor not shaped like a fashion runway.[4]

In 2011, The Guardian featured the song on their 'A history of modern music: Dance'.[5]

Chart performances[edit]

It peaked at number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number two in the UK Singles Chart, and it went to number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. "Gypsy Woman" also earned Waters three American Music Award nominations.

When the song was descending the charts, it appeared on the benefit album Red Hot + Dance in a new incarnation mixed by Joey Negro, who took the song into a new musical direction.

Retitled "Gypsy Woman (La Da Dee)", the song was the highest-debuting single for a new act in the UK Singles Chart at that time – its debut at three was later eclipsed by Gabrielle's "Dreams" entering at two, and then by Whigfield's "Saturday Night" debuting at number one.

A screenshot from the "Gypsy Woman" music video. It shows the "la da dee, la dee da" refrain written on an umbrella which are turning around, making the words go round and round.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Gypsy Woman" was directed by Mark Pellington.[6] It features Waters dressed in a black suit, singing against a white background.

In the media[edit]

In 1991, the song was spoofed in the sketch "My Songs Are Mindless" performed by Kim Wayans on In Living Color, where series regular Wayans portrayed Waters referencing TV shows. Wayans skewered the song's simple rhythm and melody by singing "Hey look, there's Fred and the Flintstones/I got a song now, that's a song now/Yabba dabba doo, yabba dabba doo/Yabba dabba doo, yabba dabba doo..." The clip from the comedy show would sometimes be mixed into Waters' own version at gay clubs with video screens.

The song is played in a fashion show at the end of the King of the Hill episode "Husky Bobby".

A cover version of "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" is featured in the video game Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party on the Wii.

Cover versions, samples and remixes[edit]

The song's elements were used as the basis for 2 Eivissa's 1997 single "Oh La La La", which itself became an international hit.[7]

In 1998, producers Joey Malzone and Greg Padula issued a white label remix of the track. It was so well received, Mercury added it to the Best of Crystal Waters compilation CD.

Drum & bass producer DJ Ron sampled and remixed in the track called "La Da Dee" on the La Da Dee single in 2003.[8]

The song was sampled by Styles P in 2004 on the song "Favorite Drug" from his album Time is Money, and later by T.I. on his 2006 single "Why You Wanna". At the end of the song "Bums" by Mr. Hyde and Necro, there is a quick sample of Waters saying, "homeless... She's homeless."

In 2006, it was remixed by Sami Dee and Freddy Jones and re-released as "Gypsy Woman 2006 (La-Da-Dee)" on the record label Absolute Sound France. The 12-inch (30 cm) vinyl included two remixes, as well as the a cappella vocal. The Big Room Anthem remix was featured on the 2007 Ministry of Sound annual.

In 2007, Montefiori Cocktail released an instrumental version of "Gypsy Woman".

In summer 2008, Sam Sparro recorded a cover of the song in London with his touring band. He had been performing the song in his live show during his UK/European tour since the spring. He released the song as a B-Side to his single "Pocket".

In January 2009, UK DJ Timmy Vegas released the song "Another Dimension" with Bad Lay-Dee which contains the organ sample of "Gypsy Woman", as well as a sample from Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic". The latter sample is routed through a vocoder-like instrument, which is also driven by chords of the "Gypsy Woman" organ sample.

In February 2011, Japanese singer YU-A released a cover of "Gypsy Woman" on her album 2 Girls.

"Walking" by Mary Mary on their album Something Big contains a sample of "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" by Crystal Waters.

"Crystal Caverns 1991", the first single from the album Galaxy Garden by British electronic musician Lone, samples the song.

Alexandra Burke sampled the song in her album track "Oh La La" taken from her second album Heartbreak On Hold.

MK1, a hip-hop duo, did this song, along with "Pass Out" by Tinie Tempah on week three of the ninth series of The X Factor.

Alicia Keys used big portions of "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" and renamed the track "Brand New Me (Part 2)" and released the track in January 2013.[9]

Swedish DJ Ted Nilsson's latest single "Homeless" feature the vocals of "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)". The song also features British DJs Cjay Swayne and Errol Reid. The song was released on the Spinnin' Deep imprint of Spinnin' Records. Two versions of the song were recorded: the "Day" mix and the "Nite" mix, both released on July 22, 2013.

In 2014, Vassy, Crazibiza, and Dave Aude teamed up to release a single called "Hustlin' ", which samples the song and chorus. Its accompanying music video features Vassy and Waters (who received co-writing credits), which pays homage to the "Gypsy Woman" music video. The single reached number one on Billboard's Dance Club Songs Chart in December 2014.[10]

In 2015, Dutch DJ/Producer duo Bougenvilla collaborated with Dutch singer/songwriter Jared Hiwat to create the single "Homeless", which uses the song's lyrics and samples its melody.

Track listings[edit]

CD single
  1. "Gypsy Woman" (strip to the bone edit) — 3:42
  2. "Gypsy Woman" (hump instrumental mix) — 4:53
Slimcase international CD maxi
  1. "Gypsy Woman" (strip to the bone edit) — 3:53
  2. "Gypsy Woman" (basement boy strip to the bone mix) — 7:31
  3. "Gypsy Woman" (hump instrumental mix) — 4:50
CD maxi single
  1. "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Strip To The Bone Radio Edit) – 3:42
  2. "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Basement Boy "Strip To The Bone" Mix) – 7:26
  3. "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Red Bone Club Mix) – 7:08
  4. "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Hump Instrumental Mix) – 4:53
  5. "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" ("Give It Up" Vocal Mix) – 8:07
  6. "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Give It Up Bonus Beats) – 2:43
  7. "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Original Demo Mix) – 7:00
  8. "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Acapella) – 2:37


See also[edit]

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"People Are Still Having Sex" by LaTour
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
May 25, 1991 – June 8, 1991 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Good Beat" by Deee-Lite
Preceded by
"Senza una donna" by Paul Young and Zucchero
Eurochart Hot 100 number-one single
July 6, 1991 – July 20, 1991 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" by Bryan Adams
Preceded by
"Wind of Change" by Scorpions
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
June 22, 1991 – July 6, 1991 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"More Than Words" by Extreme
Preceded by
"Wind of Change" by Scorpions
Swiss number-one single
July 21, 1991 – July 28, 1991 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" by Bryan Adams


  1. ^ a b Glitterbox Ibiza (2017-06-14), Glitterbox Radio Show 011: w/ Crystal Waters, retrieved 2017-08-29 
  2. ^ a b "The Story of Crystal Waters' "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)"". 
  3. ^ "Crystal Waters - Stockton welcomes a true music legend and "International Dance Diva"!". 
  4. ^ "100 Greatest Dance Songs". Slant Magazine. 30 January 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  5. ^ "A history of modern music: Dance". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  6. ^ Retrieved January 26, 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ 2 Eivissa, "Oh La La La" from WhoSampled
  8. ^ DJ Ron – "La Da Dee / Flowetical", Vinyl, UK, discogs (Retrieved 12 August 2011)
  9. ^ [ We Are Pop Slags (Retrieved 26 January 2013)
  10. ^ "Mr. Probz Rides 'Waves' to No. 1 on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs Chart" from Billboard (November 21, 2014)
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Gypsy Woman", in Australian, Austrian, French, Swedish and Swiss Singles Charts (Retrieved December 30, 2007)
  12. ^ Canadian dance peak
  13. ^ a b "Single top 100 over 1991" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  14. ^ German Singles Chart Archived 2007-10-29 at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved April 14, 2008)
  15. ^ Irish Single Chart (Retrieved April 14, 2008)
  16. ^ Italian Singles Chart Hit parade Italia (Retrieved May 30, 2008)
  17. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  18. ^ UK Singles Chart (Retrieved April 14, 2008)
  19. ^ a b c Billboard (Retrieved August 6, 2008)
  20. ^ 1991 Austrian Singles Chart (Retrieved August 6, 2008)
  21. ^ 1991 Swiss Singles Chart (Retrieved August 6, 2008)
  22. ^ UK certifications (Retrieved August 6, 2008)
  23. ^ US certifications Archived 2007-06-26 at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved August 6, 2008)

External links[edit]