Needle in the Hay

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"Needle in the Hay"
Needle in the Hay.jpg
Single by Elliott Smith
from the album Elliott Smith
Released January 1, 1995
Recorded September 1994
Genre
Length 4:16
Label Kill Rock Stars
Songwriter(s) Elliott Smith
Producer(s) Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith singles chronology
"Shytown" / "No Confidence Man"
(1994)
"Needle in the Hay"
(1995)
"Baby Britain"
(1999)

"Shytown"/"No Confidence Man"
(1994)
"Needle in the Hay"
(1995)
"Baby Britain"
(1999)

"Needle in the Hay" is a song by American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. It was released on January 1, 1995 by record label Kill Rock Stars as the sole single from his second studio album, Elliott Smith.

Recording[edit]

Trumpet and harmonica were recorded for the song but were omitted from the final mix. A mix featuring the extra instrumentation was released in March 2012.[1]

Release[edit]

"Needle in the Hay" was released as a 7" vinyl single on January 1, 1995 by record label Kill Rock Stars.[2] It is the lead track on the album Elliott Smith, released in May that year.

Live performances[edit]

During later shows with a full band, the song was given more of a "rock" arrangement and would feature drums and bass,[3] with Smith also singing the vocals an octave higher.

Legacy[edit]

Pitchfork Media placed the song at number 27 in their list of the two-hundred best songs of the 1990s.[4]

"Needle in the Hay" appeared in Wes Anderson's 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums, in a scene featuring a suicide attempt. Smith was reportedly unhappy about the song being used this way.[5] The song appeared on the film's soundtrack.[6]

In 2017, Australian music and culture publication, Happy Mag, launched an annual vinyl competition named after "Needle In The Hay".

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered by numerous artists, including punk band Bad Astronaut for their 2001 album Acrophobe; Nadja on their covers album When I See the Sun Always Shines on T.V.; Muppet parody Sad Kermit; Mélissa Laveaux; and Juliana Hatfield in 2014's I Saved Latin! A Tribute to Wes Anderson.

In July of 2018, singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton digitally released her own recording of "Needle in the Hay"; Carlton selected the track among a variety of songs that were unveiled as part of her 'Six Covers / Six Months' showcase. In reference to Smith's work, Carlton issued the following: "This is one of my favorite songs period. Elliott was a great poet and the metaphors in this lyric split me open. This song is a juxtaposition because the song is about excruciating pain and the brutal moments of an addiction spiral and yet it's formed in this drone-y meditative manner. Such restraint makes the listener have to move in closer. And then it breaks you. I hope I did him justice. He deserves the best."

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Needle in the Hay" – 4:17
  2. "Alphabet Town" – 4:12
  3. "Some Song (Extended Intro)" – 2:21

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pelly, Jenn (March 1, 2012). "Unreleased Elliott Smith, Deerhunter on Kickstarter Comp for Open Source Project CASH Music | News | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  2. ^ "Needle in the Hay 7" | Kill Rock Stars". Bandcamp. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  3. ^ "Elliott Smith "Needle in the Hay" Electric 9-2-00 – YouTube". YouTube. February 11, 2007. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  4. ^ Petruisch, Amanda (September 2, 2010). "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 50–21 | Features | Pitchfork". Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  5. ^ Schultz, William Todd (October 1, 2013). Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1608199730.
  6. ^ Browning, Mark (2011). Wes Anderson: Why His Movies Matter. Praeger. p. 152. ISBN 1598843524.

External links[edit]