"Needle in the Hay" Song Analysis

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“Needle in the Hay” by Elliott Smith

Your hand on his arm
The haystack 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

(Chorus)
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay
Needle in the hay

He's wearing your clothes
Head down to toes
A reaction to you

You say you know what he did
But you idiot kid
You don't have a clue

Sometimes they just
Get caught in the eye
You're pulling him through

*Chorus*

Now on the bus
Nearly touching
This dirty retreat

Falling out
6th and Powell
A dead sweat in my teeth

Going to walk, walk, walk
Four more blocks
Plus the one in my brain

Down downstairs
To the man
He's going to make it all ok

I can't beat myself
I can't beat myself
And I don't want to talk

I'm taking the cure
So I can be quiet
Whenever I want

So leave me alone
You ought to be proud
That I'm getting good marks

*Chorus 2x*

In health class, we just finished a unit on drugs and addictions. We learned about the different classifications of drugs, their effects, and symptoms of addiction. Our current assignment is to analyze a song that describes the negative effects of drugs, and share our personal reaction to it. The song I chose is “Needle in the Hay” by Elliott Smith. This song can be interpreted in many different ways, but it’s almost always recognized as being about drugs, specifically heroin. Though Smith only became addicted to heroin in his later life, he writes about drugs, alcohol, and addiction in many of his songs, from his first album on. “Needle in the Hay” seems to be about a girl who is addicted to heroin, and is in a relationship with a guy who is beginning to use heroin himself. I chose this song because it’s beautifully written, and uses many interesting metaphors to help tell the story. The first line in the song is “Your hand on his arm, the haystack charm...
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