Andy Pratt - Avenging Annie




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Published on Apr 17, 2010

Story behind the song

The following article was written by the author, Andy Pratt, Sept 6, 2006
I wrote "Avenging Annie" in the summer of 1972 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at my mother's 1926 Steinway B Baby Grand piano. I had broken up with my first wife[.] ... I was stoned on marijuana. On my turntable was the The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo, in particular the Woody Guthrie song "Pretty Boy Floyd." You can clearly hear that the first part of "Avenging Annie" is an altered version of "Pretty Boy Floyd." I shut off the record and began playing "Pretty Boy Floyd." I was going into a creative trance, and I altered Woody's words, then out came a Bach-like piano riff which I liked, so I began singing to it in falsetto, taking the part of a woman I called Avenging Annie. A whole story came out, which was a fantasy version of my relationship with [my ex-wife], combined with the outlaw theme of the American West. I worked on the song for a few weeks and played for other people who liked it. I made a demo with Rick Shlosser and Bill Riseman, which became a hit at Brown University Radio WBRU. This new fame led to me being whisked away by John Nagy of Earth Opera, Clive Davis of Columbia Records, and Nat Weiss of The Beatles, being wined and dined in New York City and given star treatment at the famous Black Rock on 6th Avenue. Once recorded and released on Columbia, "Avenging Annie" took on a life of its own, which has never really stopped. My version was given extensive radio play, became a number one single in New Orleans and Providence, and reached about number eighty-five in the national charts. I did a successful tour of the East Coast, where Jimmy Buffet opened for me at Max's Kansas City, an Andy Pratt show was broadcast from Boston's Jazz Workshop over WBCN radio, and many other wonderful things happened. The Andy Pratt record, with "Avenging Annie" is still available on various web sites, including www.amazon.com.
Roger Daltrey covered "Avenging Annie" in 1974, and his version appeared first on his One of the Boys album as well as other collections he released. My opinion of his version is that he was afraid to play the role of a woman in the song, and his band did not play the syncopations that we played in our version. I prefer my version. Still, I am grateful for his recognition of the song, and the added exposure that he helped me to gain.
Carmenica Diaz wrote a book called "Avenging Annie" and credits the song as the book's inspiration, for which I thank her.



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