The song was written in late May / early June 1986, although musical elements can be traced back to an instrumental rehearsed in the spring of 1986.
It was recorded in June 1986 at Jam Studios in London with producer John Porter and fifth Smith Craig Gannon, alongside "Golden Lights" and an early, rejected version of "Is It Really So Strange?". Before the producer had a chance to finish his mix, what had been recorded was given to producer Steve Lillywhite (husband of Kirsty MacColl who sings on the record) to mix.
The song has been performed live 18 times by the Smiths. It was a fixture on the two British legs of the 1986 Queen Is Dead tour, but done only twice on that tour's North American leg.
It has been performed live 90 times by Morrissey after the Smiths. It was introduced at the very end of the 2008 Greatest Hits tour, played on its 6 final nights. It was done regularly the following year on the Years Of Refusal tour (64 times out of 68 dates) and the Swords tour (20 times out of 26 dates).
"On 'Ask,' Craig Gannon and I are playing Martin acoustics. I play the G-Am-C-D progression on a Rickenbacker 330. The highlify part is played on a '63 Strat. I'm also vamping on a G harmonica through a Urei Boom Box, an early '70s piece of outboard gear that we also used a lot on guitars, as well. It's like one of those vulgar 'loudness' buttons on a hi-fi. It pushes things slightly out of phase, but gives them a bottomy, dense sound., It's a big chrome box with one knob: 'intensity.' Hey, maybe one of the readers can write in and tell us about it."