“Fancy” was originally written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry in 1969. Reba McEntire — dubbed “the Queen of Country,” cited as a major influence by other artists over five decades, and a successful actress and entrepreneur — made it known in 1984 she wanted to record her own version, but her producer at the time talked her out of it.
In 1990, with a new producer, she was about to wrap production on her album Rumor Has It when they talked about adding a song. McEntire proposed a slightly updated version of “Fancy,” and they cut the track.
The song tells the story of woman crippled by extreme poverty and abandoned by her husband who is forced to send her 18-year old daughter to work as a prostitute. It is ultimately an anthem of resilience, and a strangely compelling song and tale.
Gentry’s original reached only #26 on the Country chart when it was released. McEntire’s version reached #8, surpassing the source.
The version below is from a 1994 live performance in Omaha, NE, which was aired as part of a Thanksgiving special on NBC in 1995. While not as acrobatic at P!nk, the aerial portion at the end is powerful, and McEntire’s ability to exude charisma and confidence is unmatched. What a performer.