Here I am in traffic's slow flow
Where the needle touched down
Carbon planes draw a cage round the air force base
Where the needle touched down
My foot on the brake, it's ok to fly low
Over poor Spanaway

An eagle swooped down from a semi-trailer
Took the name of your town from a sharp-toothed freighter
The needle's the same that recorded and played
When you left me at the greyhound the year I moved away
And if I knew then what's so obvious now
You'd still be here, baby
My baby, baby

So that's why I never come back here
That's why they spit out my name
Your exes have clawed up the bible trying to keep me away
With the sledge of tectonic fever
The needle has landed again
Let it play

And the needle touched down
The needle is landing
And the needle touched down
The needle is landing

An eagle swooped down from a semi-trailer
Took the name of your town
From a sharp-toothed freighter
And if I knew then what's so obvious now
You'd still be here


Lyrics submitted by delial

The Needle Has Landed song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI read this song as all the complex emotions involved in returning to the place where you grew up after a long absence. It's where the record needle started playing the song you've been living ever since. A lot has changed, but you can send the needle back to the beginning and realize that it's still the same song as it was way back when ("When you left me at the Greyhound the year I moved away").

    I definitely think it's her hometown based on the fact that she "moved away" so long ago that you'd remember it only by the year. Then, in the second verse, she's explaining why she "never comes back here," indicating that she burned a lot of bridges, pissed off a lot of people before she left. Specifically, I think there was a tumultuous love affair that made her notorious in her town, and maybe even forced her move away in the first place.

    The guy's subsequent girlfriends have all hated her, deterring her from returning. They have been superficially moral and virtuous, probably painting her as some kind of evil harlot who screwed up everyone's life, even while they themselves are straying from the idea of Christian forgiveness by harboring so much hate for her. Thus, they've "clawed up the Bible" (waved it around, abused it, destroyed it) in their efforts to keep her away from town.

    I don't really have anything about the eagle swooping down, the sharp/shark-toothed freighters, and so on. I'd be interested to hear what people have for those lines!
    iggy72on February 06, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think "the needle" is the needle on a record player. She's often sung about the connection between music and memory (Guided by Wire) and memory and loss (Star Witness, South Tacoma Way). Here, she's stuck in traffic, watching the planes fly low, and something happens to make her remember her past as a young girl in WA. Planes are also a trigger for memory (Maybe Sparrow) in her songs. When the "needle" lands on a record player, the song begins to play; here, her past, with its regrets ("if I knew then what's so obvious now, you'd still be here...") comes back.
    zeebon April 01, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think "the needle" has a double meaning here. Partly it's what zeeb says about a record player, but partly, this song is her way of saying that she's through with Seattle (the Space Needle being the most prominent symbol of the city).
    tjm1on July 23, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think its about heroin addiction. "If I knew then, whats so obvious now, you'd still be here" the character in the song is reflecting on the fact that if she knew how dangerous her loved ones addiction was at that time- she might have been able to prevent their death.

    And the lyric "your exes have clawed up the bible, trying to keep me away" meaning they blame the speaker for the aforementioned death, perhaps the love was an affair.

    I never thought of the record player before, but now it makes a lot of sense too. I read an interview with Neko, where she said she likes to keep her songs ambiguous enough for the listener to be able to insert themselves in to the story, or make up their own. She's a work of art.
    ThisIsTrenton May 30, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWho knew Spanaway could sound so sexy.

    Also love the pinging notes at the end -- perfect way to end the album - just an echoing, sad good-by
    waccoon June 18, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbrilliant song.. loving the chorus and the way she sings 'baaaby'.. gives me chills.
    soaked2theboneon August 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFunny how many listens it took before I caught that she's singing about Spanaway, WA. It's a place just south of Tacoma. The air force base she mentions is McChord, and yeah, the planes do fly pretty damn low over it.
    Foxhound199on December 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"And the needle touched down
    The needle has landed"

    Hense the title. I love this song a lot and its my favorite neko song.
    zoolahon September 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningI'm pretty sure it's "...from a shark-toothed freighter". I've been trying to figure out this part of the song. I know that her father was in the US Air Force when they lived in Tacoma and that his air base was near Spanaway. A number of units in the US Air Force have traditionally used a shark mouth painting on the front of their planes. I have to wonder if this might be the reference. But other than that I have no idea what the song is really about. I know from interviews that quite a few of her songs are autobiographical so the ambiguous lyrics might just be due to not knowing her detailed history.
    ginintonicon August 21, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with the comment below, but I think the wordplay on "the eagle has landed" and the veiled reference to Apollo 11 is pretty central. The eagle may stand for a quintessential American experience, coupled with the alienation that a voyage to the moon implies. The whole premise of recording/simulacra in the context of biography is fascinating. These are some of the most interesting lyrics I have heard in a long time. :)
    Ratcoaton February 12, 2013   Link

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