What does Needle in the Hay mean?

Elliot Smith: Needle in the Hay Meaning

Album cover for Needle in the Hay album cover

Song Released: 1995

Needle in the Hay Lyrics

Your hand on his arm
The hay stack charm around your neck
Strung out and thin
Calling some friend trying to cash some check
He's acting dumb
That's what you've come to expect
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jan 15th 2008 !⃝

    It is a universal message of being at war with yourself. The body and soul. Where the soul is pure and child like, open and willing to change with optimism, the body is tainted with punishments and rewards from the past. He is talking to himself. "He's acting dumb, but that's what you've come to expect." The he is what he sees in the mirror, and the you who has come to expect is that person inside who wants control for the better. The soul, the voice inside that experiences. "He's wearing your clothes, head down to toes, a reaction to you." Like looking in the mirror and seeing a stranger. But the cycle perpetuates, da da da, knife in chest.

    The body giving an irresistable urge to feel good and the brain showing the body, through memory, how to do this.

    It's about addiction. Really, this song interpretation of mine can be applied to the whole album.

    His best album. Top three of the 90's!


  2. anonymous
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    Mar 10th 2011 !⃝

    Its about being strung out in Portland amongst other things.. but falling out, 6th and powell, a dead sweat in my teeth is a refrence to SE 6th and Powell.. a street in SE Portland.. The song has a very dark Portland feel.. where anyone who has been down that road can feel this songs impact. I can't even listen to it without it bringing up dark days. Eliott went to the same highschool as I did Lincoln HS (SW Portland) and I was told of his genius as a freshman.. (Circa 2001)

  3. girlkid
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    Oct 23rd 2007 !⃝

    Elliott didn't use drugs at this time in his life, according to written information

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  4. anonymous
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    Jul 3rd 2006 !⃝

    This is Elliot Smith at his best. The lyrics in this song fit together so perfectly.

    "Caught in the eye your pulling him though" relates to how he has been pulled through (peer pressure) the eye of the needle of the drugs he is using. Best analogy I've ever heard.

  5. eohess
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    Oct 14th 2005 !⃝

    He is talking about his past experiances with sanity and how he has to cope with emotions and taking drugs for his mental illness.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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