Work with Me, Annie

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"Work with Me, Annie" is a 12-bar blues song with words and music by Hank Ballard. It was recorded by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters (formerly The Royals) in Cincinnati on the Federal Records label on January 14, 1954, and released the following month. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) immediately opposed it due to its overtly sexual lyrics, lyrics that had crossed over and were now being listened to by a white teenage audience. Because the record was in such demand and received so much publicity, attempts to restrict it failed and the record shot to number one on the R&B charts and remained there for seven weeks.[1]

This was the first of the "Annie" records and sold a million copies. So did the answer songs "Annie Had A Baby" and "Annie's Aunt Fannie." They all were banned for radio play by the FCC. The success of these recordings spurred the practice of recording double entendre records and answer songs. Another answer, "The Wallflower", by Etta James, popularly known as "Roll with Me, Henry", was reworded by Georgia Gibbs as "Dance with Me, Henry" for Top 40 consumption. It had the same melody as "Work with Me, Annie". The melody was recycled again by the Midnighters for the song "Henry's Got Flat Feet (Can't Dance No More)".

The song "Work with Me, Annie" is part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll" list.[2]

The song[edit]

Hank Ballard had been a fan of "Sixty Minute Man" recorded by The Dominoes, a song so explicitly dirty that only a rhythm and blues label would take it. When he got the chance he wrote his own bawdy tune.[1] With its strong melody and distinctive rhythm, the song's structure anticipated the style of rock and roll and was flexible enough that later it could be used with entirely different words.[3]

The "Annie" lyrics were extremely sexually explicit for the period:[4]

"Annie, please don't cheat. Give me all my meat."

And the punchline:

"Let's get it while the getting is good."

Hank Ballard's baritone and excited squeals backed by the group's 'ah-oom' were accompanied by a boogie piano, a driving electric guitar and a booming electric bass. "Work With Me, Annie" defined what was to become Rock 'n' Roll.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Jim Dawson, & Steve Propes (1992). What Was the First Rock 'n' Roll Record. Boston & London: Faber & Faber. pp. 131–137. ISBN 0-571-12939-0.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-11-18. Retrieved 2006-11-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll ((2nd Ed.) ed.). New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. p. 129. ISBN 0-306-80683-5.
  4. ^ "Hank Ballard". Archived from the original on 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2006-11-08.

External links[edit]