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The Meaning Behind The Song: Annie May by New Riders of the Purple Sage

The Meaning Behind The Song: Annie May by New Riders of the Purple Sage


I first heard the song “Annie May” by New Riders of the Purple Sage on a breezy afternoon, while I was sitting on the porch of a friend’s house. As the song began playing, I found myself captivated by its haunting melody and poignant lyrics. Since then, “Annie May” has become a staple in my music collection, and it holds a special place in my heart. In this article, I aim to delve into the meaning behind this song and explore the emotions it evokes.

The Story of Annie May

“Annie May, she lives down by the station
You might say that she’s a friend of mine
No, I don’t mean for drinks and conversation
When you’re lonely, that’s a waste of time”

These opening lines introduce us to Annie May, a character who lives on the fringes of society. She is not just another acquaintance for the songwriter; she serves as a supportive figure when loneliness strikes. Annie May becomes a refuge, someone to lean on in times of need.

“Now Annie May was born in Alabama
She nearly made it through the seventh grade
She had a baby and left it with her grandma
Hitched a ride up Indiana way”

Through these lyrics, we learn of Annie May’s backstory. Born in Alabama, she faced hardships from an early age. Despite leaving school at a young age, she took charge of her own destiny by leaving her baby with her grandmother and hitchhiking her way to Indiana. Annie May demonstrates resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

“Some folks call her crackers
Some folks call her trash
Others swear she’s a working girl
With a stocking full of cash”

These lines shed light on the judgment and stereotypes society places on Annie May. People label her with derogatory terms, but the songwriter insists on focusing on her true essence rather than societal perceptions. Whether she is deemed unconventional or simply unworthy, the song’s protagonist refuses to let these opinions sway his view of Annie May.

Annie May’s Impact

“You don’t find her cooking and cleaning
And washing cars in the street
Whenever I get lonely
She knows what I need”

These lines highlight the unique connection between the songwriter and Annie May. Their relationship transcends traditional expectations of domesticity and companionship. Annie May offers solace and understanding in times of loneliness, fulfilling a role that others may not comprehend or appreciate.

Annie May: A Surprising Attachment

“Now Annie May, don’t ask me if I love her
But in a way, well, I suppose I do
She’s not the kind you’d bring home to meet your mother
But in time she kind of grows on you”

These lyrics encapsulate a complex blend of emotions. The songwriter acknowledges that his feelings towards Annie May may not fit the conventional definition of love. However, he admits that over time, a deep attachment has grown between them. Despite societal expectations and potential judgment, he finds himself unable to shake off the bond they share.

The Ever-Dependable Annie May

“Annie May, Annie May
Anything you want to ask for, that’s OK
And if nothing else comes your way
You can always depend on Annie May”

The chorus of the song reinforces Annie May’s role as a steadfast companion. She is someone who can be relied upon, regardless of the circumstances. The songwriter recognizes her unwavering support and understands that she will always be there when he needs her most.


“Annie May” by New Riders of the Purple Sage goes beyond surface-level judgment and explores the complexities of human connection. Through insightful storytelling and evocative lyrics, the song invites listeners to see beyond societal norms and appreciate the unique relationships that often exist outside the confines of tradition. Annie May becomes a symbol of unwavering support, challenging us to question our perceptions and embrace the unexpected connections that define our lives.

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