Bobby Gentry masterfully weaves superb storytelling and timely political agendas in her 1969 Southern Gothic hit song “Fancy.”
Gentry penned the song herself. It depicts a girl named “Fancy” and her struggle with poverty and her eventual success being a courtesan. In the very embodiment of what country music does, it successfully tells us the story of Fancy and her feelings. It tastefully tackles the issues of poverty and all the desperate means to get out of that situation.
In an interview, she expressed her exact feelings regarding the song:
“Fancy” is my strongest statement for women’s lib[eration], if you really listen to it. I agree wholeheartedly with that movement and all the serious issues that they stand for — equality, equal pay, day care centers, and abortion rights.
Listen to the hit song here!
The song has been such a huge anthem for the plight of women. It resonated across generations, across years. It has been covered time and time again. Two of the most notable covers are by fellow country music legend Reba McEntire and the Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Lee.
Listen to their legendary covers here!
McEntire revamps the whole sound and placed it in a more acoustic and old style country vibe. She altered the storyline quite a bit too. McEntire depicted “Fancy” succeeding and being more than just a courtesan. Fancy grew up to become an actress and a recording artist, as depicted by the music video.
Irma Thomas altered the lyrics in certain parts of the song to fit the desperate struggle of the Black woman in the mid-60’s era. The soul/gospel arrangement of the song certainly gave it a whole new meaning and a fresh vibe. It is track #6 of her album “Full Time Woman: The Lost Cotillion”
All in all, “Fancy” is an embodiment of what the unsung struggles of a woman were. If back then it was appropriate for the rights of a woman, now, it is certainly more so.