Twisted (Annie Ross song)

"Twisted" is a 1952 vocalese song with lyrics by Annie Ross, set to a tenor saxophone solo of the same name by Wardell Gray that was recorded in 1949. It has been covered by Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, and many others.

Composer(s)Wardell Gray
Lyricist(s)Annie Ross


"Twisted" is a whimsical account of the protagonist's insanity that satirises psychoanalysis.[1][2] In 1952, Ross met Prestige Records owner Bob Weinstock, who asked her to write lyrics to a jazz solo, in a similar way to King Pleasure, a practice that would later be known as vocalese. The next day, she presented him with "Twisted", a treatment of saxophonist Wardell Gray's 1949 composition of the same name, a classic example of the genre.[3][4][5] She later said of the inspiration for the song:

The title was infinite possibilities. You could marry anything to it and it was the name signified, "Twisted." And it just occurred to me that it would be good as a kind of song about an analyst.[3]

The song, first released in 1952 and later collected on the album King Pleasure Sings/Annie Ross Sings, was an underground hit, and resulted in her winning DownBeat's New Star award.[4][6][7] Ross released a second version with the vocalese trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross on their 1960 album The Hottest New Group in Jazz. Gramophone described that recording as "more lighthearted, perhaps a little more individual" than Ross' first release of the song.[8]


Joni MitchellEdit

Joni Mitchell recorded the song on her 1974 album Court and Spark, featuring Cheech & Chong. In a 1974 interview, when asked why she covered the song, she said: "Because I love that song, I always have loved it. I went through analysis for a while this year and the song is about analysis. I figured that I earned the right to sing it. I tried to put it on the last record [For the Roses] but it was totally inappropriate. It had nothing to do with that time period and some of my friends feel it has nothing to do with this album either. It's added like an encore."[9]


Other covers include:[10]

The song was part of the live repertoire of the New Journeymen, before they evolved into the Mamas & the Papas.[1]

In popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ a b Greenwald, Matthew. "Twisted". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  2. ^ Dale, Michael (10 May 2007). "Annie Ross at The Metropolitan Room: Lush and Twisted". Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  3. ^ a b Don Ball, ed. (22 September 2009). "Interview by Molly Murphy for the National Endowment for the Arts". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b Bush, John. "Annie Ross biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  5. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Wardell Gray". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  6. ^ Gavin, James (3 October 1993). "A Free-Spirited Survivor Lands on Her Feet". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Annie Ross". B.H. Hopper Management. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  8. ^ "Lambert, Hendricks and Ross The Hottest New Group In Jazz". Gramophone. May 1960. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  9. ^ Marom, Malka (June 1974). "Joni Mitchell:self-portrait of a superstar". Maclean's. Archived from the original on 21 August 2009. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  10. ^ "Annie Ross: Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  11. ^ Harvey, Adam; Hyman, Dick (March 2007). The soundtracks of Woody Allen: a complete guide to the songs and music in every film, 1969–2005. McFarland. pp. 50–. ISBN 978-0-7864-2968-4. Retrieved 23 December 2011.