Thursday, May 11, 2023

THROWBACK THURSDAY: In a Quaint Caravan ...


She was a gypsy woman ...

No, that's another song.

Today I'm talking about a tune about another gypsy woman, a lady operating out of a "quaint caravan" who "can look in the future and drive away all your fears.

"I see your bike ... it's someplace far away ... it's in the Alamo ...  in the basement!"

No, that's another fortune teller ...

This is about the best-known work of British songwriter Billy Reid, "The Gypsy."

Basically it's a song about about an old fraud preying on desperate people. (Well, that's my framng.) The narrator here goes to see The Gypsy because he or she is worried about his or her lover.

The Gypsy pounces! 

... she looked in my hand and told me
That my lover would always be true

But the mark was rightly skeptical:

And yet in my heart I knew, dear
That somebody else was kissing you ...

And yet even so, the reassuring words along, (probably  with the usual psychic mumbo jumbo), has gotten our lovelorn narrator hooked:

But I'll go there again 'cause I want to believe the Gypsy ...

There's one born every minute.

But don't get me wrong, I've loved this song ever since I heard the version by Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs nearly 60 years ago. 

Here's the original 1945 recording, performed by Welsh singer (and future wife of James Bond actor Roger Moore) Dorothy Squires. She was Billy Reid's man musical partner from the 30s through the early 50s. 

Squire's version -- was titled "The Gipsy" -- has a minute-long introductory verse not included in takes by other singers. 

I sit alone and dream, dear
Dream of you night and day
Once you were here beside me
Now you are far away
I've had my fortune told me
Can I believe it's true?
Soon we shall be together
Living our life anew

Listen yourself:

 But the song didn't make much of an impact on American ears until The Ink Spots changed the "i" to a "y" and gave it their Ink Spot sheen:

Years before she saw the USA in her Chevrolet, Dinah Shore also wanted to believe The Gypsy:

Louis Armstrong took The Gypsy to New Orleans (even though this was from a concert in Chicago):

At least one doo-wop group, The Five Keys, ventured into that quaint caravan for spiritual and romantic advice:

Here's that doo-wop colored Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs version I mentioned above. This was on their second album, which I still like even more than their first album with "Wooly Bully.":

For the past 20-plus years, my favorite version of "The Gypsy" is the one by Austin honky-tonker Cornell Hurd, which was on his album A Stagecoach Named Desire. Unfortunately it's apparently not on Youtube or any other place from which I can embed. 

So instead,  I'll go out with this honky-stomp version by another Texan, Doug Sahm with the Sir Douglas, from their 1971 album The Return Of Doug SaldaƱa:

For more deep dives into songs, check out The Stephen W. Terrell Web Log Songbook

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