Needle and Haystack Life

Album: Hello Hurricane (2009)
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This is the opening track of Hello Hurricane, the seventh full-length album from the San Diego-based rock band Switchfoot. Hello Hurricane was the group's first long player on Atlantic Records and its first studio set since 2006's Oh! Gravity.
  • Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot, discussed this song on New Release Tuesday: "Here's a song that epitomizes the way that we recorded this record, pushing at every stage to reach a higher ground. There are several iterations of this song, each of them with a radically different approach - a method we never had the time for until we built our own studio. One of the reasons we built our own studio was to enable productive experimentation like this without paying for it by the hour. We first tracked this tune with a long time friend named Shane Wilson (we did our very first SF record with Shane). Then we revisited this song again with another friend of ours, Darryl Thorpe (Radiohead, Paul McCartney). For both of these versions the song was cut at half time (rather than the frenetic double-time pace that's on the record). Upon reviewing the list of songs with (producer) Mike Elizondo, 'Needle' felt too similar in tempo and feel to 'Yet' (a tune on the final list for the record). So it was scrapped from the list of tunes for the record. Because we recorded more than 80 songs for this record, we had a lot of songs to push to the side. Mike's objective input on determining which songs not to work on was invaluable. I had learned to really trust his instincts and agreed whole-heartedly with most the final list that he had suggested. He was right that 'Needle' and 'Yet' on the same record made the record much sleepier. However, 'Needle' kept coming back to Tim and I as an important track. So we put it aside for a week or two to see if it would return (the best ones always come back around). I kept coming back to the content of the lyric. All of the concepts behind the song - hope against the backdrop of chaos and meaninglessness, recognizing the value of every human life -these felt so existentially motivating. 'Needle' felt like a song that I wanted to sing every night. And I felt like it could be done with an element of the horizon built into the song. So, onstage in Vegas we worked up the song in sound-check, recorded the idea into a cell phone, and came back with a fresh direction for the tune.

    Drew came up with an ingenious idea for a unique guitar tone. We played the electric guitar through an amp, miked the amp with an acoustic guitar (in open tuning of the key of the song), plugged the acoustic guitar into another amp and recorded the signal from that second amp. The result was so expansive and dramatic I felt like it should start the record. So that's what you hear at the top: a sweet amalgamation of electric and acoustic madness. This song makes me think of abundant, overflowing life. The math involved for life to be possible at all is staggering. Let alone beauty. love. joy. forgiveness. To hold someone in your arms is to hold a living, breathing miracle. At any age, this life is a gift."
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Spooner OldhamSongwriter Interviews

His keyboard work helped define the Muscle Shoals sound and make him an integral part of many Neil Young recordings. Spooner is also an accomplished songwriter, whose hits include "I'm Your Puppet" and "Cry Like A Baby."

Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"They're Playing My Song

Armed with a childhood spent devouring books, Mike Scott's heart was stolen by the punk rock scene of 1977. Not surprisingly, he would go on to become the most literate of rockers.

Billy Gould of Faith No MoreSongwriter Interviews

Faith No More's bassist, Billy Gould, chats to us about his two new experimental projects, The Talking Book and House of Hayduk, and also shares some stories from the FNM days.

Country Song TitlesFact or Fiction

Country songs with titles so bizarre they can't possibly be real... or can they?

Tommy JamesSongwriter Interviews

"Mony Mony." "Crimson and Clover." "Draggin' The Line." The hits kept coming for Tommy James, and in a plot line fit for a movie, his record company was controlled by the mafia.

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song SpoofsSong Writing

When singers started spoofing their own songs on Sesame Street, the results were both educational and hilarious - here are the best of them.