Written by lead singer Curtis Mayfield, this song is about a man who is part of a traveling caravan who falls in love with a gypsy they encounter along the way. Mayfield was probably inspired by the Western movies he enjoyed.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the biggest hit featuring castanets, which keep the rhythm and play to the gypsy theme.
This was the first song The Impressions recorded without Jerry Butler, who fronted the group in the '50s but left for a solo career. Curtis Mayfield kept working with Butler as a guitarist and songwriter, and when Mayfield wrote "Gypsy Woman," he regrouped The Impressions and recorded the song with them, taking over for Butler as their frontman. The song was a hit and The Impressions soon became regular chart-dwellers, racking up 30 more Hot 100 entries in the '60s.
According to Curtis Mayfield, it was the group's manager Eddie Thomas (who named the act, telling them "you gotta make an impression"), that got this song onto the radio. Thomas would personally stop by radio stations and peddle the song. He got some takers in Philadelphia, and when the song got some attention in that market, it took off elsewhere.