The hit single, “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” by Crystal Waters, is a stone cold classic house track featured in countless club parties, summer mix tapes, ‘best of house’ compilations and various other dance nights and events. It’s a song that’s guaranteed to fill dance floors 30 years after it’s release, no mean feat in a culture where ‘now’ is everything. Ironically, Crystal Waters hadn’t even heard of house music until she was making the song that would become one of the biggest house tracks of all time!
The gears of fate went into motion when Waters, who was then living in Washington D.C., crossed paths with Baltimore production trio The Basement Boys. The group asked Waters to write a demo for house diva Ultra Naté. What Waters came up with impressed The Basement Boys so thoroughly that they told her that she should just work with them to record and release the song herself.
“When I met them, I handed them my demo and they loved my songwriting,” Waters explained in a 2017 Glitterbox interview. “They offered to shop the demo around,” but, she added, “they wanted me to keep my same style over these dance beats. That was my first introduction to house music.”
Released in 1991 it was an instant hit and featured on Crystal Waters’ debut studio album Surprise. Upon its release, it became a top five hit in six countries, going on to become one of the most commercially successful songs to come out of the US that year. One of the main reasons for its success was its infectious hook. The hook was an example of a blend of hip-hop, reggae, and R&B that gave it a unique sound that was unlike anything else on the radio at the time.
The lyrics to the song remain timeless and still capture the imagination of listeners today. They tell the story of a small-town girl living a rugged and hard-knock life. She is trying to find her own way, and knows better than to give up on her dreams. Despite the adversities that she encounters, she remains determined to forge her own path to success. The message of the song rings true to this day, with its uplifting mood being a perfect embodiment of ambition, diversity, and strength.
On top of the inspiration of its lyrics, the success of the track is also greatly attributed to its production. The song contains a crisp and funky bass line that encourages people to get up and move their butts. Additionally, the song incorporates a steel drum bass line, instantiated by a steel drum sample from “Heartbeat” by Andy Summers. Other musical elements included a Latin guitar solo and the use of a saxophone that completes the song’s sunny sound.
To sum up, there is no doubt that “Gypsy Woman” by Crystal Waters is a huge song that has stood the test of time. The uplifting and timeless message of the song, combined with its retro blend of hip-hop, reggae, and R&B, and its production elements, has secured its place as one of the greatest house tracks to ever be released. It’s no wonder that it has become a standard on dance floors throughout the world.