Random Song: Fancy

I don't know how to say this, so I'm just going to say it: 'Fancy' is the nicest song about turning your daughter into a prostitute that you're ever going to listen to.

That's a strange sentence, I know- but even if you go back and listen to the original version of the song by Bobbie Gentry, there's a contradiction that runs through both that version and Reba McEntire's version that's hard to get away from. On the one hand, the lyrics and the story are fucking dark. I mean, a desperate mother saves up all her money to buy her eldest daughter a nice red dancing dress? Mom dies, Baby gets taken by the welfare people and Fancy learns what her Mama was talking about when she said "just be nice to the gentlemen, Fancy, they'll be nice to you."

This shit is dark, y'all.

And yet...

There's a note of undeniable empowerment that runs throughout the song as well- and Bobbie Gentry was pretty blunt about it being a feminist statement:

"Fancy" is my strongest statement for women's lib, if you really listen to it. I agree wholeheartedly with that movement and all the serious issues that they stand for equality, equal pay, daycare centers, and abortion rights.

As it turns out, Fancy does okay for herself and eventually figures out 'how to become a lady' and becomes independently wealthy and does quite nicely for herself in the end. 

The fact that this was originally released in 1969 seems kind of crazy to me-- I'm not sure how radical the notion of decriminalizing sex work was back in the day, but even today the message of the song seems more progressive than the actual politics of today. Yes, we live in the age of OnlyFans, where anyone with sexy-lookin' feet and a decent camera can make some scratch-- but at the same time, prostitution-- the world's oldest profession, is still illegal, it's still criminalized and too many women get prosecuted for being victims of prostitution and trafficking instead of those actually responsible for it. 

Though I guess Fancy probably doesn't see herself as a victim of anything by the end of the song.


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