Needles and Pins (song)

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"Needles and Pins"
Single by Jackie DeShannon
from the album Breakin' It Up on The Beatles Tour!
Released April 11, 1963
Format 7" single
Genre Rock, beat
Label Liberty F-55563
Writer(s) Jack Nitzsche, Sonny Bono
"Needles and Pins"
The Searchers - Needles and Pins single.jpg
Single by The Searchers
from the album It's The Searchers
B-side "Saturday Night Out"
Released January 7, 1964 [1] (UK)
Format 7" single
Genre Jangle pop,[2] merseybeat, British rock and roll
Length 2:14
Label Pye 7N15594 (UK)[3]
Kapp 577 (USA)
Writer(s) Jack Nitzsche, Sonny Bono
Producer(s) Tony Hatch[3]
The Searchers singles chronology
"Sweet Nothins"
"Needles and Pins"
"Don't Throw Your Love Away"
"Needles and Pins"
Single by Smokie
from the album Bright Lights & Back Alleys
B-side "No-One Could Ever Love You More" (Norway)
Released 1977
Format 7" single
Genre Pop rock
Length 2:47
Label RAK
Writer(s) Jack Nitzsche, Sonny Bono
Producer(s) Nicky Chinn, Mike Chapman
Smokie singles chronology
"It's Your Life"
"Needles and Pins"
"For a Few Dollars More"
"Needles and Pins"
Single by Ramones
from the album Road to Ruin
Released 1978
Recorded 1978
Genre Punk rock
Length 2:21
Label Sire
Writer(s) Jack Nitzsche, Sonny Bono
Producer(s) Tommy Ramone, Ed Stasium
Ramones singles chronology
"Don't Come Close"
"Needles and Pins"
"I Wanna Be Sedated"
"Needles and Pins"
TP - Needles and Pins single.jpg
Single by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Stevie Nicks
from the album Pack Up the Plantation: Live!
Released December 30, 1985
Format 7" single
Genre Rock
Length 2:23
Label MCA
Writer(s) Jack Nitzsche, Sonny Bono
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Stevie Nicks singles chronology
"Make It Better (Forget About Me)"
"Needles and Pins"
"Refugee (Live)"
"Needles and Pins"
Single by The Ventures
from the album The Fabulous Ventures
Released 1964
Format album
Genre Rock
Label Dolton F-55563
Writer(s) Jack Nitzsche, Sonny Bono

"Needles and Pins" is a song written by Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono. In his autobiography, Bono states that he sang along with Nitzsche's guitar-playing, thus creating both the tune and the lyrics, being guided by the chord progressions.[4] Jackie DeShannon tells the story differently, that the song was written at the piano, and that she was a full participant in the song's creation, along with Nitzsche and Bono, although she didn't get formal credit.[5][6]

The song was written for and originally recorded by Jackie DeShannon. Other notable versions of the song were recorded by The Searchers, Del Shannon, Cher, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Stevie Nicks, Willie DeVille, Thorleifs, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Smokie, the Turtles and Ramones. It was a number 1 hit in France when recorded in French with new lyrics by Petula Clark entitled 'La Nuit N'en finit Plus'. It was also covered by Czech singer Václav Neckář, with a rewritten text and under the name 'Mýdlový princ' ('Soap Prince').

Jackie DeShannon version (1963)[edit]

The song was first recorded by Jackie DeShannon in 1963; in the US it peaked at #84 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in May of that year.[7] Though it was only a minor US hit, DeShannon's recording of the song topped the charts in Canada, hitting number one on the CHUM Chart in 1963.

Chart (1963) Peak
Canadian CHUM Singles Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 84

The Searchers version (1964)[edit]

The Searchers heard British performer Cliff Bennett perform "Needles and Pins" at a club in Hamburg, Germany[citation needed], and instantly wanted it to be their next single. The Pye Records single was released in January 1964.[3] It was number one in the United Kingdom,[3] Ireland and South Africa and peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the United States. Soon after, in April 1964, "Needles and Pins" appeared on the Searchers' next album, It's the Searchers.

Audible during the Searchers' recording of "Needles and Pins" is a faulty bass drum pedal, which squeaks throughout the song. It is particularly noticeable during the opening of the number.

Part of The Searchers' version can be heard as the intro of the song "Use the Man" from Megadeth's Cryptic Writings album, although it does not appear on the remastered version.

Chart (1964) Peak
Australia Kent Music Report 2
French Singles Chart 29
German Singles Chart[8] 8
Irish Singles Chart[9] 1
Swedish Singles Chart 5
UK Singles Chart[10] 1
US Billboard Hot 100 13
Norwegian Singles Chart[11] 8
South African Singles Chart 1

Smokie version (1977)[edit]

In 1977, at the height of their popularity, English rock band Smokie covered the song as a rock ballad for the album Bright Lights and Back Alleys, and got a European hit with "Needles and Pins". The song reached number 1 in some European countries.

Ramones version (1978)[edit]

The Ramones covered "Needles and Pins" on their 1978 album Road to Ruin. Their version was also included on the band's first greatest hits collection, Ramones Mania.

In turn, pop-punk band The Commercials recorded the song for the tribute album Ramones Maniacs.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers version (1985; live)[edit]

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their first live album in 1985 called Pack Up the Plantation: Live!, where singer-songwriter and Fleetwood Mac vocalist Stevie Nicks performed on "Needles and Pins" with Tom Petty at the Forum in Los Angeles, California.

Chart (1985) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 37
U.S. Billboard Album Rock Tracks 17
Canadian RPM Top Singles 85

Genesis reference[edit]

The song is referenced in Genesis's 1974 song "Broadway Melody of 1974" from their album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The lyrics run "And as the song and dance begins, the children play at home with needles...Needles and pins" with the phrase "Needles and pins" played to the original song's notes.


  1. ^ [1] Archived 27 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ LaBate, Steve (December 18, 2009). "Jangle Bell Rock: A Chronological (Non-Holiday) Anthology… from The Beatles and Byrds to R.E.M. and Beyond". Paste. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 76. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  4. ^ Sonny Bono, And the Beat Goes On (New York: Pocket Books, 1991).
  5. ^ Terry Gross, Jackie DeShannon (June 14, 2010). "What The World Needs Now Is Jackie DeShannon [interview transcript]". Fresh Air. National Public Radio. Retrieved February 21, 2017. And I had some I did contribute to that song, but I did not get writing credit at the time, I did not pursue it. 
  6. ^ Kubernik, Harvey (2009). Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon. Sterling. p. 34. ISBN 978-1402797613. Retrieved February 21, 2017. We were at the piano going over musical riffs and finally settled on the one starts off 'Needles and Pins'. 
  7. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990, Record Research, Inc., Menomonee Falls WI, 1991
  8. ^ "Chartverfolgung > The Searchers > Needles and Pins" (in German). Media Control Charts. 1984-04-19. Retrieved 2011-02-05. 
  9. ^ "The Irish Charts – All There Is To Know". Irish Recorded Music Association. 1984-01-22. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  10. ^ "ChartArchive - The Searchers - Needles And Pins". Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  11. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Searchers - Needles And Pins". Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  • Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 Record Research, Inc., Menomonee Falls WI, 1990 ISBN 0-89820-089-X
Preceded by
"Glad All Over" by Dave Clark Five
UK number-one single (The Searchers version)
30 January 1964 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Diane" by The Bachelors