Gypsy Woman (Crystal Waters song)
|"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)"|
|Single by Crystal Waters|
|from the album Surprise|
|A-side||"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless) Radio Mix" (US)|
|Released||April 3, 1991|
|Producer(s)||The Basement Boys|
|Crystal Waters singles chronology|
"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (also released as "Gypsy Woman (La da dee la da da)") is a song by American singer Crystal Waters from her debut album Surprise (1991). Written by Neal Conway, Waters and Nathaniel S. Hardy Jr., the song was released on April 3, 1991 as the lead single from Surprise. The song is famous for its "la da dee, la dee da" refrain and its often-sampled keyboard riff. The song is also widely regarded as one of the biggest classics of house music and has been remixed several times.
"Gypsy Woman" was a commercial success upon release, topping the charts in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, and it also reached number one on the Eurochart Hot 100 as well as on the US and Canadian dance charts. It reached the top 10 in at least eight countries, including Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States, and it peaked at number 11 in Australia and France.
- 1 Background and release
- 2 Critical reception
- 3 Chart performance
- 4 Music video
- 5 Impact and legacy
- 6 Track listings
- 7 Charts and certifications
- 8 Cover versions, samples and remixes
- 9 In the media
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Background and release
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. The first two songs she wrote were "Makin' Happy" and "Gypsy Woman".
"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.
In a 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 the hook down. Then I read that and the lyrics came to me. Like she was singing it.||”|
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.
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.
Billboard wrote about the song: "Inspired deep house dish has already begun to explode at club level, thanks to Waters' unique vocal and a hypnotic hook and groove crafted by hot production team the Basement Boys. Expect extensive radio action at several formats momentarily."
Dave Sholin from the Gavin Report commented: "Exciting and totally fresh, this track broke out of the New York club scene and found its way onto HOT 97. APD/MD Kevin McCabe reports out of the fifty 12-inches he researches each week, it debuted at #3! Kevin says response is across-the-board with teens requesting it, as well as women 30+ who call in Middays, asking for the song that goes, "Dah dah dee dah dah dah." It charts at #16, getting eight plays a day. Also debuted at #29 on KMEL and POWER 106 with adds at WTIC/FM, WIOQ/FM, and Z100 New York. Do I love it? YEAH!"
Music & Media wrote: "This single took exactly three weeks to hit no. 1 in the UK-a hit out of the blue. The "La Da Dee La Da Da" bit of this dance track is especially and undeniably catchy. Mainland Europe is next."
It peaked at number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number two on 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.
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, then by Whigfield's "Saturday Night" debuting at number one.
Impact and legacy
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.||”|
|1999||The Village Voice||United States||"Top Singles Of The 90's"||43|
|2006||Slant Magazine||United States||"100 Greatest Dance Songs"||48|
|2011||MTV Dance||United Kingdom||"The 100 Biggest 90's Dance Anthems of All Time"||27|
|2011||The Guardian||United Kingdom||"A history of modern music: Dance"||*|
|2013||Vibe||United States||"Before EDM: 30 Dance Tracks From The '90s That Changed The Game"||14|
|2017||BuzzFeed||United States||"The 101 Greatest Dance Songs of the '90s"||13|
|2018||Mixmag||United Kingdom||"The 30 best vocal house anthems ever"||*|
(*) indicates the list is unordered.
- "Gypsy Woman" (strip to the bone edit) — 3:42
- "Gypsy Woman" (hump instrumental mix) — 4:53
Slimcase international CD maxi
- "Gypsy Woman" (strip to the bone edit) — 3:53
- "Gypsy Woman" (basement boy strip to the bone mix) — 7:31
- "Gypsy Woman" (hump instrumental mix) — 4:50
CD maxi single
- "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Strip To The Bone Radio Edit) – 3:42
- "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Basement Boy "Strip To The Bone" Mix) – 7:26
- "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Red Bone Club Mix) – 7:08
- "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Hump Instrumental Mix) – 4:53
- "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" ("Give It Up" Vocal Mix) – 8:07
- "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Give It Up Bonus Beats) – 2:43
- "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Original Demo Mix) – 7:00
- "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (Acapella) – 2:37
Charts and certifications
Cover versions, samples and remixes
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.
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.
Alexandra Burke sampled the song in her album track "Oh La La" taken from her second album Heartbreak On Hold.
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.
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.
In 2015, Nick Brewer collaborated with Bibi Bourelly to create the song 'Talk To Me', which uses the song's melody after the chorus and samples part of the song.
In 2019, Teamzino & Dynamars made a new version of this song with the title 'Ladadi' record label Triangle Music had permission from Universal Music Publishing to release this track on June 28, 2019.
In 2018, English record producer Hubbard released a deep house remake featuring a new vocal from English singer/songwriter Siana Schofield.
In the media
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..."
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