Needles And Pins

Album: It's Fab! It's Gear! It's The Searchers (1964)
Charted: 1 13
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Songfacts®:

  • Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono wrote this song, which finds the singer so bewitched by a girl, he gets that needles and pins feeling when he sees her. Nitzsche was a producer who worked on a lot of movies. Bono married Cher, but before he was known as her husband, he was a record producer who made a name for himself working with Larry Williams on songs like "Bony Maronie" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzie."
  • Jackie DeShannon recorded the original in 1963 on Liberty Records, but her version stalled at #84 on the Hot 100. In a Songfacts interview with DeShannon, she explained why her recording didn't hit. "There were a lot of issues with the record company, a lot of marketing things I wasn't happy with," she said. "For instance, 'Needles And Pins' was Top 5 in Detroit, Top 5 in Chicago, and Top 5 in every city it was played in. However, unless you're coordinated across the country and the song hits the charts at the same time, you can't get the big leaps. My record didn't have that, because it would be going down in Chicago while it was going up in some other city. So that was a problem."
  • The Searchers heard British performer Cliff Bennett sing this at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany (where The Beatles played for a while), and wanted it to be their next single.
  • Two 6-string guitars are playing in unison on the intro - it sounds like a 12-string guitar because an engineer accidentally left the echo switch on but liked the result.
  • A live version by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Stevie Nicks hit #37 in 1986.
  • The Ramones performed a cover of this that can be found as a bonus track on their re-released album, Rocket to Russia. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kristy - La Porte City, IA
  • On the BBC Breakfast news programme, April 14, 2009, presenter Bill Turnbull said this was the first record he ever bought. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • Along with "Ain't That Just Like Me," The Searchers performed this song when they made their US television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show on April 5, 1964. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • UK pop parody group the Barron Knights included a new lyric to this in their 1964 #3 UK hit "Call Up The Groups." The premise of the song was that the pop acts of the day had been enlisted in the armed forces. The new lyric to "Needles and Pins" was:

    We sent them away
    To earn their pay
    What a place it was
    And they knew
    They had to go away
    And get down on their knees to earn their pay
    Oh yes we will sir!
    We'll clean those saucepans and tins-ah
    Yes sah!
    >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jon - Bridport, United Kingdom
  • Jackie DeShannon's A&R people didn't want her to record "Needles and Pins," but she told them if she couldn't do it, she wasn't going into the studio. "It was pretty brave of me at the time to put my foot down, but I really wanted to do that song," she admitted to Uncut magazine.
  • Jackie DeShannon told Uncut she was a full participant in the song's creation, along with Nitzsche and Bono, although she did not get formal credit. "Jack Nietzsche was a really close friend, and he was friendly with Sonny Bono," she said. "We were all together at one point at his house in LA, and they started writing Needles and Pins. We all three collaborated on it."
  • The drums were missing when DeShannon went to do her vocal in the studio. "We were all panicking," she recalled. "Hal Blaine, I think it was Hal, went back out and overdubbed the drums to the track. That's one of the reasons it has that spacey sound."

Comments: 22

  • Jack Gaum from Toronto, Ontario Canada Smokie version is great and still performed today solo by Smokie lead singer Chris Norman. Great voice and version.
  • Roger Metcalf from Fort Worth, TexasInteresting that no one has mentioned Cher's cover of Needles & Pins around 1965 or so. Presumably, she would have the correct lyrics (since Sonny was a co-composer), but few performers afterwards seem to have gotten them completely right.

    Cher has the "he's" and "she's" and "her's" and "him's" in the lyrics in the proper arrangement as sung from a female's point of view. But many male acts did not swap around all the "he's" and "she's" for some reason, and so their versions of the lyrics sometimes don't fully make sense.

    In Cher's version, she sings "...she's worse to him than me, let him go ahead and take her love instead, and one day he will see..." So, the new girl treats the guy worse than the singer does, and maybe someday the guy will realize that and come back to the singer. Doesn't make as much sense when that is sung verbatim by a male.
  • Sam Williams from Sherman Oaks, CaAside from the squeeky Faulty bass drum pedal on this record (that never was fixed and they just left it in intentionally), another interesting story a person of note told me (and he is a very reliable source) as far as the creation of the song is concerned. Well for one, the lyric "well still it begins, needles and pins", is actually a direct lift from the Miss Toni Fisher song "The Big Hurt" (in her version, it's "now it begins" but the similarity is close enough to where you can get where the initial idea for that lyric came from originally.) and that makes all of the sense in the world that that is what Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche pulled from when they wrote this song because they both used to hang out at Gold Star Studios all of the time, and I"m sure one of them was at Gold Star when "The Big Hurt" by Miss Toni Fisher was being recorded there, and so instead of starting from scratch, they used The Big Hurt as a good starting point for a new song they were writing together (and I've also read Jackie also had A LOT to do with the co writing of the song but never got credit or Royalties for her contributions to the song but that's a whole other story).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 29th 1964, the Searchers were one of the acts* embarking on a 29-date twice-nightly tour of the United Kingdom, it began at the Adelphi Cinema in Slough, Buckinghamshire, England...
    And the very next day on March 1st the quartet's debut charted record, "Needles and Pins", entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at #75; five weeks later on April 5th it would peak at #13 {for 3 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 10 weeks...
    While in their native UK the song was in its second of two weeks at #3 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart, and one month earlier on January 26th it had peaked at #1 for two weeks...
    Between 1964 and 1971 the group had fourteen Top 100 records on the Billboard chart; one reached the Top 10, "Love Potion Number Nine", at #3 for two weeks on January 10th, 1965...
    * Other acts on the bill were Dusty Springfield, Bobby Vee, and Big Dee Irwin.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 4th 1966, Jackie DeShannon performed "I Can Make It With You" on the week-day afternoon ABC-TV program 'Where The Action Is'...
    At the time the song was in its second of two weeks at #68 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, and that was also its peak position on the chart...
    And on the same 'Action' show she would also perform "Needle and Pins"...
    Ms. DeShannon, born Sharon Lee Myers, celebrated her 74th birthday two months ago on August 21st {2015}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 18th 1963, Jackie DeShannon made her network television debut when she appeared on the CBS-TV program 'The Jackie Gleason Show'...
    Surprisingly she didn't sing "Needles and Pins"; instead she did "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby" and "Just In Time"...
    And at the time her original version of "Needles and Pins" was in its first week on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #97...
    {See next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 12th 1963, Jackie DeShannon's original version of "Needles and Pins" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #97...
    The following week it was still at #97, then it moved to #92, and on its fourth and final week on the chart it peaked at #84...
    And on July 7th, 1963 it reached #1 {for 2 weeks} on Canada's Toronto CHUM Singles chart...
    Between 1963 and 1980 she had sixteen Top 100 records; with two making the Top 10, "What the World Needs Now Is Love" {#7 in 1965} and "Put A Little Love in Your Heart"* {#4 in 1969}...
    * "Put A Little Love in Your Heart" peaked at #2 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, the week it was at #2 the #1 record for that week was "A Boy Named Sue" by Johnny Cash.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 5th 1964, the Searchers performed "Needles and Pins" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    At the time the song was in its first of three weeks at #13, and that was also its peak position on the Top 100...
    And on the same 'Sullivan' show they also performed "Ain't That Just Like Me"; one week later on April 12th, 1964 it entered the Top 100 chart at #95, eventually it peaked at #61.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 11th 1977, Smokie's covered version of "Needles and Pins" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #87; and on October 2nd, 1977 it peaked at #68 {for 1 week} and spent 5 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #10 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    The British quartet had two other Top 100 records; "If You Think You Know How To Love Me" {peaked at #96} and "Living Next Door to Alice" {reached #25 in 1977}...
    In 1979 lead singer Chris Norman, in a duet with Suzi Quatro, peaked at #4 on the Hot Top 100 with "Stumblin' In".
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 2nd, 1965 the Searchers performed "Needles and Pins" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    One year earlier on March 7th, 1964 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it peaked at #13 and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
    Between 1964 and 1971 the Liverpool quartet had fourteen Top 100 hits; with "Love Potion Number Nine" being their biggest hit, it reached #3 in 1965...
    R.I.P. Jimmy O'Neill (Shindig's host, 1940 - 2013).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, Ny"Needles and Pins"; Searchers peaked at #13 & Jackie DeShannon's reached #84 and "When You Walk In the Room"; Searchers peaked at #35 & DeShannon's just made it at #99...
  • Robert from Prague, Czech RepublicBrandon is right, the similar riff and melody in The Byrds' song is obvious.
  • Tony from Stavanger, NorwayIt took me about 20 years to work out that the bit where they apparently sing 'hedna, hedna' was actually, 'hurtin' her, hurtin her'. Incidentally, has anybody else noticed the 'squeaks' during this recording? A mouse in the studio? No, I think it must have been a squeaky bass-drum peddle!
  • Sten from Gentofte, DenmarkI think Tom Petty and Stivie Niks is doing this perfect live at the TP and the Heartbreakers live
    album from 1985, Pack Up the Plantation. Try it, it rocks
  • Alan from Grande Prairie, Alberta, CanadaThe Searchers, beautiful sound. They're cover of "When You Walk In The Room" one of my favourite songs of all time. They reminded me a little of the Everley Brothers. Just a sweet beautiful sound with great harmony.
  • Robb from Williamstown, Nj 08094, Nj"The Searchers were part of the British invasion and also played one Sunday on the Ed Sullivan show.. Our whole family watch'd that show and I remember my mother saying to me" you can do that" I was 13 and have been rockin since, thank God
  • Jason Michelitch from Arlington, VaA brief clarification: The full studio version of the cover by the Ramones actually appears as a track on their Road to Ruin album. The bonus track on the Rocket to Russia CD is a different, earlier version of the recording (possibly with Tommy, the original drummer, as opposed to Marky, who plays drums on Road to Ruin).
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumA very beautiful song written by Nitzsche and Bono, I have this song version The Searchers on a CD with their greatest hits, like "Sweets for my sweet", "Love potion n°9", "It's in her kiss" and many others.
  • Someone from SomewhereMegadeth's song, Use The Man, starts off with Needles And Pins sampled for some 30 seconds or so... Use The Man is a song about heroin addiction, and it seems like Dave Mustaine (Megadeth's frontman who wrote the "Use...") interprented Needles And Pins to be about heroin too...
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiai kinda like Smokies version....but hey that's me
  • Phillip from Louisville, KyThe RAMONES did an awesome version of this that SHOULD have been a #1 hit, but, naturally, failed to be recognized.
    LONG LIVE THE RAMONES!
  • Brandon from Seattle, WaThe Byrds' "I Feel A Whole Lot Better" used a similar melody to this song. Hence, the 12 string guitar.
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