The most popular version of this song was performed by Reba McEntire on her 1990 album "Rumor Has It", although it was originally written and sung by Bobbie Gentry. Given Gentry's youth in poverty and a stint dancing in the Las Vegas nude review, Les Folies Bergere, there is a small chance that the song is partially autobiographical in spirit if not in fact.

For some reason this song always gives me that shivery, almost sick feeling that you get right before you start to cry, which is odd when you think about it because I've never been a little girl or worn a satin dancing dress, and although my memory is a little hazy on this one, I'm pretty sure I was never a hooker with a heart of gold. I have been down and out though, and on occasion I've felt like the world has let me down, so maybe that's what I feel a connection to when Reba's voice gets throaty and she starts belting out the chorus.

Well 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 then 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 grown 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

Lyrics and Music, Bobbie Gentry. 1970

-John Keats

Ever let the Fancy roam,
Pleasure never is at home:
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth;
Then let winged Fancy wander
Through the thought still spread beyond her:
Open wide the mind's cage-door,
She'll dart forth, and cloudward soar.
O sweet Fancy! let her loose;
Summer's joys are spoilt by use,
And the enjoying of the Spring
Fades as does its blossoming;
Autumn's red-lipp'd fruitage too,
Blushing through the mist and dew,
Cloys with tasting: What do then?
Sit thee by the ingle, when
The sear faggot blazes bright,
Spirit of a winter's night;
When the soundless earth is muffled,
And the caked snow is shuffled
From the ploughboy's heavy shoon;
When the Night doth meet the Noon
In a dark conspiracy
To banish Even from her sky.
Sit thee there, and send abroad,
With a mind self-overaw'd,
Fancy, high-commission'd:--send her!
She has vassals to attend her:
She will bring, in spite of frost,
Beauties that the earth hath lost;
She will bring thee, all together,
All delights of summer weather;
All the buds and bells of May,
From dewy sward or thorny spray;
All the heaped Autumn's wealth,
With a still, mysterious stealth:
She will mix these pleasures up
Like three fit wines in a cup,
And thou shalt quaff it:--thou shalt hear
Distant harvest-carols clear;
Rustle of the reaped corn;
Sweet birds antheming the morn:
And, in the same moment, hark!
'Tis the early April lark,
Or the rooks, with busy caw,
Foraging for sticks and straw.
Thou shalt, at one glance, behold
The daisy and the marigold;
White-plum'd lillies, and the first
Hedge-grown primrose that hath burst;
Shaded hyacinth, alway
Sapphire queen of the mid-May;
And every leaf, and every flower
Pearled with the self-same shower.
Thou shalt see the field-mouse peep
Meagre from its celled sleep;
And the snake all winter-thin
Cast on sunny bank its skin;
Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see
Hatching in the hawthorn-tree,
When the hen-bird's wing doth rest
Quiet on her mossy nest;
Then the hurry and alarm
When the bee-hive casts its swarm;
Acorns ripe down-pattering,
While the autumn breezes sing.

Oh, sweet Fancy! let her loose;
Every thing is spoilt by use:
Where's the cheek that doth not fade,
Too much gaz'd at? Where's the maid
Whose lip mature is ever new?
Where's the eye, however blue,
Doth not weary? Where's the face
One would meet in every place?
Where's the voice, however soft,
One would hear so very oft?
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth.
Let, then, winged Fancy find
Thee a mistress to thy mind:
Dulcet-ey'd as Ceres' daughter,
Ere the God of Torment taught her
How to frown and how to chide;
With a waist and with a side
White as Hebe's, when her zone
Slipt its golden clasp, and down
Fell her kirtle to her feet,
While she held the goblet sweet
And Jove grew languid.--Break the mesh
Of the Fancy's silken leash;
Quickly break her prison-string
And such joys as these she'll bring.--
Let the winged Fancy roam,
Pleasure never is at home.

Fan"cy (?), n.; pl. Fancies (#). [Contr. fr. fantasy, OF. fantasie, fantaisie, F. fantaisie, L. phantasia, fr. Gr. appearance, imagination, the power of perception and presentation in the mind, fr. to make visible, to place before one's mind, fr. to show; akin to , , light, Skr. bhato shine. Cf. Fantasy, Fantasia, Epiphany, Phantom.]


The faculty by which the mind forms an image or a representation of anything perceived before; the power of combining and modifying such objects into new pictures or images; the power of readily and happily creating and recalling such objects for the purpose of amusement, wit, or embellishment; imagination.

In the soul Are many lesser faculties, that serve Reason as chief. Among these fancy next Her office holds. Milton.


An image or representation of anything formed in the mind; conception; thought; idea; conceit.

How now, my lord ! why do you keep alone, Of sorriest fancies your companoins making ? Shak.


An opinion or notion formed without much reflection; caprice; whim; impression.

I have always had a fancy that learning might be made a play and recreation to children. Locke.


Inclination; liking, formed by caprice rather than reason; as, to strike one's fancy; hence, the object of inclination or liking.

To fit your fancies to your father's will. Shak.


That which pleases or entertains the taste or caprice without much use or value.

London pride is a pretty fancy for borders. Mortimer.


A sort of love song or light impromptu ballad.



The fancy, all of a class who exhibit and cultivate any peculiar taste or fancy; hence, especially, sporting characters taken collectively, or any specific class of them, as jockeys, gamblers, prize fighters, etc.

At a great book sale in London, which had congregated all the fancy. De Quincey.

Syn. -- Imagination; conceit; taste; humor; inclination; whim; liking. See Imagination.


© Webster 1913.

Fan"cy, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Fancied (?), p. pr. & vb. n. Fancying ().]


To figure to one's self; to believe or imagine something without proof.

If our search has reached no farther than simile and metaphor, we rather fancy than know. Locke.


To love.




© Webster 1913.

Fan"cy, v. t.


To form a conception of; to portray in the mind; to imagine.

He whom I fancy, but can ne'er express. Dryden.


To have a fancy for; to like; to be pleased with, particularly on account of external appearance or manners.

"We fancy not the cardinal."



To believe without sufficient evidence; to imagine (something which is unreal).

He fancied he was welcome, because those arounde him were his kinsmen. Thackeray.


© Webster 1913.

Fan"cy, a.


Adapted to please the fancy or taste; ornamental; as, fancy goods.


Extravagant; above real value.

This anxiety never degenerated into a monomania, like that which led his [Frederick the Great's] father to pay fancy prices for giants. Macaulay.

Fancy ball, a ball in which porsons appear in fanciful dresses in imitation of the costumes of different persons and nations. -- Fancy fair, a fair at which articles of fancy and ornament are sold, generally for some charitable purpose. -- Fancy goods, fabrics of various colors, patterns, etc., as ribbons, silks, laces, etc., in distinction from those of a simple or plain color or make. -- Fancy line Naut., a line rove through a block at the jaws of a gaff; -- used to haul it down. Fancy roller Carding Machine, a clothed cylinder (usually having straight teeth) in front of the doffer. -- Fancy stocks, a species of stocks which afford great opportunity for stock gambling, since they have no intrinsic value, and the fluctuations in their prices are artificial. -- Fancy store, one where articles of fancy and ornament are sold. -- Fancy woods, the more rare and expensive furniture woods, as mahogany, satinwood, rosewood, etc.


© Webster 1913.

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