Album: Rumor Has It (1990)
Play Video
  • I remember it all very well lookin' back
    It was the summer I turned eighteen
    We lived in a one room, rundown shack
    On the outskirts of New Orleans
    We didn't have money for food or rent
    To say the least we were hard pressed
    Then Mama spent every last penny we had
    To buy me a dancin' dress

    Mama washed and combed and curled my hair
    And she painted my eyes and lips then I stepped into a satin
    Dancin' dress that had a split on the side clean up to my hip
    It was red velvet trim and it fit me good
    Standin' back from the lookin' glass
    There stood a woman where a half gown kid had stood

    She said here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
    Here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down

    Mama dabbed a little bit of perfume on my neck
    And she kissed my cheek
    Then I saw the tears wellin' up in her troubled eyes
    When she started to speak
    She looked at a pitiful shack
    And then she looked at me and took a ragged breath
    She said your Pa's run off and I'm real sick
    And the baby's gonna starve to death

    She handed me a heart shaped locket that said
    "To thine own self be true"
    And I shivered as I watched a roach crawl across
    The toe of my high heel shoe
    It sounded like somebody else that was talkin'
    Askin' Mama what do I do
    She said just be nice to the gentlemen Fancy
    And they'll be nice to you

    She said here's your chance Fancy don't let me down
    Here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
    Lord forgive me for what I do, but if you want out
    Well it's up to you
    Now don't let me down you better start movin' uptown

    Well, that was the last time I saw my Ma
    The night I left that rickety shack
    The welfare people came and took the baby
    Mama died and I ain't been back

    But the wheels of fate had started to turn
    And for me there was no way out
    And it wasn't very long 'til I knew exactly
    What my Mama's been talkin' about

    I knew what I had to do but I made myself this solemn vow
    That I's gonna be a lady someday
    Though I don't know when or how
    I couldn't see spending the rest of my life
    With my head hung down in shame you know
    I might have been born just plain white trash
    But Fancy was my name

    Here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
    Here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down

    It wasn't very long after a benevolent man
    Took me off the street
    And one week later I was pourin' his tea
    In a five room hotel suite

    I charmed a king, a congressman
    And an occasional aristocrat
    Then I got me a Georgia mansion
    In an elegant New York townhouse flat
    And I ain't done bad

    Now in this world there's a lot of self-righteous hypocrite
    That would call me bad
    And criticize Mama for turning me out
    No matter how little we had

    But though I ain't had to worry 'bout nothin'
    For nigh on fifteen years
    I can still hear the desperation in my poor
    Mama's voice ringin' in my ear

    She said, here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
    Here's your one chance Fancy don't let me down
    Lord, forgive me for what I do
    But if you want out well it's up to you
    Now don't let me down
    Your Mama's gonna help you uptown

    I guess she did Writer/s: Bobbie Gentry
    Publisher: Spirit Music Group, Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 8

  • Alyssa Ferrera from Louisiana Just watched the video for the first time in a long time. When she visits the graveyard there are two graves, the mama and someone else. The dad had run off, so it’s not him. The welfare people had taken the baby, so it’s not the baby. Who is it??
  • William Lee from DixieIs that a 53 ford in the video?
  • Brenda L Johnson from Shorewood, IlReba McEntire performs "Fancy" superbly!! Listening to Reba sing it never gets old!!
  • Camille from Toronto, OhIn the telling of this fictional autobiography, incredibly rhythmic lyrics are chosen and placed like strands of silk, woven together to create the finest pictorial tapestry. The sung words sound exactly as though a real life Fancy was reminiscing right beside you. The subject matter could be discussed and dissected endlessly; much is divulged in a few short minutes in the telling of this tale. The songwriter, Bobby Jo Gentry, crafted a compelling story so rich in description and perfect in delivery we are immediately transported to the run down, rickety shack outside of New Orleans. Fancy's mother is desperate to propel her daughter out of a life of abject poverty, but at what cost? Are the mother's actions justified? Exactly what is the mother's background? Does her mother truly see her daughter's potential, or is it merely desperate thinking? Fancy is excited to see the red satin dress in all its finery--something so colorful, luxurious and frivolous would be a striking contrast to her dreary surroundings. She witnesses her own striking transformation as she struggles to comprehend the ramifications of her mother's instructions on how to break free from the oppression she's lived in. The listener wants Fancy to rise above her circumstances and is glad to find out that she does, but it means being glad that she found success as a prostitute or kept woman. A part of us wants to believe that being in the presence of powerful men and amassing personal wealth via this profession is better than living in poverty and is a happy existence, even if it meant selling her body. Is that something to be happy about? There is room for discussion because as iconic as the song is, most young women who turn to this lifestyle have no power and live a miserable, bleak existence. The listener struggles with these issues. Fancy sums her success up with the words: "And I ain't done bad." Does that mean she has done well for herself? Or does it mean that she sees nothing morally wrong with the way she survived and thrived? In the end, Fancy's driving force remains the memory of desperation in her mama's voice telling her she's got one chance to make it out of hell.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 16th 1969, the original version of "Fancy" by Bobbi Gentry entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #94; and on February 1st, 1970 it peaked at #31 {for 2 weeks} and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on February 8th, 1970 it reached #1 {for 2 weeks} on the Canadian RPM Top Country Singles chart...
    Between 1967 and 1976 she entered the Top 100 eleven* different times; three of those times with the same song, "Ode to Billie Joe", it reached #1 {for 4 weeks} in 1967, re-entered the chart in 1976 & peaked at #54, then she re-recorded it for the Warner Bros. movie of the same name, and that version reached #65...
    * Also three of those eleven entries were duets with Glen Campbell; "Mornin' Glory" {#74 in 1968}, "Let It Be Me" {#36 in 1969}, and "All I Have to Do Is Dream" {#27 in 1970}...
    Ms. Gentry, born Roberta Lee Streeter, will celebrated her 71st birthday come next July 27th {2015} and may God bless and watch over Mr. Campbell.
  • Betty from Dayton, OhI sung this song for karaoke back in 94' when karaoke was not big like it is now....i still love it to this day!
  • Daniel from Toledo, OhThis song was a big hit for Bobbie Gentry in 1969-1970. Despite being banned on many radio station, it had a four month run on the Billboard hot 100 pop singles chart going #31 pop for two weeks. It also went #26 country and #8 adult contemporary. It earned Bobbie both an acm and grammy nomination for top female vocal of 1970. In Canada, the song went #1 country and #26 pop for Bobbie.
  • Brit from Nashville, TnThis song never became a #1 hit for Ms. McEntire. Although, she still considers it her "career" song.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Hawksley Workman

Hawksley WorkmanSongwriter Interviews

One of Canada's most popular and eclectic performers, Hawksley tells stories about his oldest songs, his plentiful side projects, and the ways that he keeps his songwriting fresh.

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)Songwriter Interviews

Mike Rutherford talks about the "Silent Running" storyline and "Land Of Confusion" in the age of Trump.

Rock Stars of Horror

Rock Stars of HorrorMusic Quiz

Rock Stars - especially those in the metal realm - are often enlisted for horror movies. See if you know can match the rocker to the role.

How The Beatles Crafted Killer Choruses

How The Beatles Crafted Killer ChorusesSong Writing

The author of Help! 100 Songwriting, Recording And Career Tips Used By The Beatles, explains how the group crafted their choruses so effectively.

Wolfgang Van Halen

Wolfgang Van HalenSongwriter Interviews

Wolfgang Van Halen breaks down the songs on his debut album, Mammoth WVH, and names the definitive Van Halen songs from the Sammy and Dave eras.

"Stairway To Heaven" Lawsuit: A Timeline

"Stairway To Heaven" Lawsuit: A TimelineSong Writing

Untangling the events that led to the "Stairway To Heaven" lawsuit.