Twisted by Joni Mitchell

This week’s Song of the Week was recommended by MIA staff Karin Jervert: “I never knew this song existed until a few months ago and was like “Yes, Joni!!”

-Karin Jervert

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hello MIA, thought you might want to know the following information on Twisted. Joni’s rendition is superb ofcourse, though it’s important to give credit to the original composer and lyricist.
    You may also want to hear the first recording sung by the original lyricist and jazz icon, Annie Ross!

    Wardell Gray was 28 when he wrote “Twisted,” and the bebop classic is still hip after all these years. He graduated from Cass Tech in Detroit which, like DuSable High in Chicago, was an incubator of young jazz talent. Arriving here during the late 1940s, he was one of the cool young hepcats in Los Angeles, gigging on Central Avenue with the likes of Dexter Gordon, Gerald Wilson, Teddy Edwards, Art Tatum, Nat Cole, Howard McGhee, and other musical titans on the local scene. You know the type: high-pegged pants and extra-large jackets, zoot-suit style. Theirs were the styles that foreshadowed hip hop back in the day. Not street, though…just hip, cool.

    Unfortunately, Gray died at age 34 with a needle in his arm. “Twisted,” however, found its place in the spotlight when British teenage hipster Annie Ross penned some precocious, witty lyrics to “Twisted” that turned it into an instant classic.

    In the summer of 1952, a 17-year-old Annie Ross came to Los Angeles to visit a relative. Hoping to find a job while on vacation, she visited a talent agency and informed the agent that she was a singer/lyricist. The agent challenged her to come up with something and bring it back the next day, and the rest is history. She came back with the lyrics, vocalese-style, based on Gray’s theme and tenor solo.

    When Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross cut the song in 1952, it pretty much jumped to the top of the charts. Pretty cool for a young British girl.

    Twisted

    Composed by Annie Ross and Wardell Gray

    My analyst told me that I was right out of my head
    The way he described it, he said I’d be better dead than live
    I didn’t listen to his jive
I knew all along he was all wrong
    And I knew that he thought I was crazy but I’m not
    Oh no!

    My analyst told me that I was right out of my head
    He said I’d need treatment, but I’m not that easily led
    He said I was the type that was most inclined
    When out of his sight to be out of my mind
    And he thought I was nuts, no more ifs or ands or buts
    Oh no!

    They say as a child I appeared a little bit wild
    With all my crazy ideas
    But I knew what was happenin’, I knew I was a genius
    What’s so strange when you know that you’re a wizard at three?
    I knew that this was meant to be

    Well I heard little children were supposed to sleep tight
    That’s why I drank a fifth of vodka one night
    My parents got frantic, didn’t know what to do
    But I saw some crazy scenes before I came to
    Now do you think I was crazy?
    I may have been only three but I was swingin’
    They all laughed at Al Graham Bell

    They all laughed at Edison and also at Einstein
    So why should I feel sorry if they just couldn’t understand
    The litany and the logic that went on in my head?
    I had a brain, it was insane
    Don’t you let them laugh at me
    When I refused to ride on all those double decker buses
    All because there was no driver on the top

    My analyst told me that I was right out of my head
    The way he described it, he said I’d be better dead than live
    I didn’t listen to his jive
    I knew all along he was all wrong
    And I knew that he thought I was crazy but I’m not
    Oh no!

    My analyst told me that I was right out of my head
    But I said, “Dear doctor, I think that it’s you instead
    ‘Cause I have got a thing that’s unique and new
    It proves that I’ll have the last laugh on you
    ‘Cause instead of one head… I got two
    And you know two heads are better than one”

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