black and white photo of a young Asian-American woman with shoulder-length black hair singing.

Round #3 Pick #3 on Wednesday, August 4, 2021: “A Pearl,” by Mitski, from, “Be the

When I knew I was going to participate in Hanspostcard’s Song Draft, I knew at least one
song would be from Mitski, aka Mitsuki Laycock, aka Mitski Miyawaki. Hans himself first
introduced me to her music. Her sound is fresh, the music has compelling elements (beats,
instrument manipulation, chord progressions) to it, and her lyrics go deep into the psyche, sit
down, and have a tea party. The issue, as it often is with having so many good tunes to
choose from is choosing which one of them to share.

I knew a little about her music-making origins but wanted to learn more. At allmusic.com,
Marcy Donelson says:

Born in Japan to an American father and Japanese mother, Miyawaki grew up
moving between no fewer than 13 countries on multiple continents before
eventually settling in New York City for college. She had just begun writing songs
soon after getting her high-school diploma in Turkey (her earliest completed song,
“Bag of Bones,” appeared on her first album). After enrolling at New York’s Hunter
College to study film, she decided to pursue music instead and transferred to
SUNY Purchase. It was there that Mitski made her first two records…

I was 99% decided on “Washing Machine Heart” but thought “A Pearl’s” lyrics were minimal
but carried a greater density to them, although both dwell pretty deep. The thing about when a
person gets into the headspace where they are rolling a pearl around in their head that keeps
growing is that one can get trapped inside of the oyster, or it turns into a tumor or something.
George Harrison warned us in, “Beware of Darkness” about “it can hurt you…” but then he
goes on to say, “what is more, that is not what you are here for.” My interpretation of what’s
going on with the character is they’ve suffered some kind of trauma that interferes with their
ability to interact with others. The trauma (i.e. war) could be anything.

Like one of Roy Orbison’s mini-operettas, “A Pearl” packs a lot into just over two and a-half
minutes. It starts with an almost casual electric guitar strum and Mitski’s voice. Enter low-keydrums and bass. Then it starts to build to a crescendo that includes waves of electric guitar,
followed by distortion of guitar and her voice, leading to an anguished howl. Once released, it
slows back down to where it was in the beginning with a feeling of resignation and

I posted about “Pearl” on May 1, 2019: https://wordpress.com/post/tao-talk.com/4969

…Be the Cowboy is the fifth studio album by Japanese-American indie rock
musician Mitski, released on August 17, 2018 … In a statement, Mitski said she
experimented in narrative and fiction for the album, and said she was inspired by
“the image of someone alone on a stage, singing solo with a single spotlight
trained on them in an otherwise dark room.”… At Metacritic, which assigns a
normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, Be the
Cowboy received an average score of 87, based on 30 reviews, indicating
“universal acclaim.”

Since it’s been awhile Mitski’s released an album, I went out to find current events. In 2020
she wrote a song, “Cop Car” for the horror movie, “The Turning.” In an article dated in October
2020 it said she is working on creating a soundtrack for a comic book called, “This is Where
We Fall,” where a cassette of the music will be included in the hardcover purchase of the
book. Paste Magazine said she released “The End,” one of the songs from it, in May of this

I found a good article on her at an NPR website if you want to learn more.

You’re growing tired of me
You love me so hard and I still can’t sleep
You’re growing tired of me
And all the things I don’t talk about
Sorry, I don’t want your touch
It’s not that I don’t want you
Sorry, I can’t take your touch
It’s just that I fell in love with a war
And nobody told me it ended
And it left a pearl in my hand
And I roll it around
Every night, just to watch it glow
Every night, baby, that’s where I go
Sorry, I don’t want your touch
It’s not that I don’t want you
Sorry, I can’t take your touch
There’s a hole that you fillYou fill, you fill
But it’s just that I fell in love with a war
And nobody told me it ended
And it left a pearl in my hand
And I roll it around
Every night, just to watch it glow
Every night, baby, that’s where I go
Just to watch it glow
Songwriters: Mitsuki Laycock


  1. I’ve never heard of her, but this one is quite good. Vaguely puts me in mind of Bjork but with something more accessible . With all that traveling as a kid, I’m sure she was exposed to a wide range of music that could influence her positively. Hope we hear more from her!
    By the way, in a case of names putting one in mind of another, Canadians might remember an eclectic indie singer called Mitsou from the ’80s and ’90s, who had a video hit called “Bye Bye Mon Cowboy”.

  2. I like this…nice melody and voice…the guitar has some bite to it which I really like. Good pick Lisa. What I’ve heard of her I’ve liked.

    • Max, her music speaks to me. I didn’t put it in the post, but Iggy Pop said something pretty awesome about her, and to me Iggy is the lyrics standard of excellence. Glad you like her melody, voice, and the bite of her guitar. Thank you.

  3. Lisa hopefully we will hear more from her within the next year- of late she had released an album every two years- was due in 2020 but you know how recent events have mixed a lot of stuff up.

  4. This is my introduction to this artist. What a deep song. I actually had to listen to it twice, because I was so taken by the lyrics, I wasn’t really paying attention to anything else. I think your comparison to Roy Orbison is a fair one. He obviously wrote about some deep pain, and it came across in his voice. She does the same. You can really hear the emotions in her voice.

    Again, this is one of the reasons why I love this song draft – I am sure I would have never heard this otherwise. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for reminding me to check the posting here. I’m so used to using the comments section on my page to work from that when a post can’t be checked from there it gets overlooked. I can see the Mazzy Star comparison and glad you get the lyrics. You are very welcome for the intro 🙂

    • It can be a struggle to keep up with all of your conversations, particularly the ones that aren’t on your site. Max and I have been known to converse and chase each other across four different blogs…plus texting…plus emails.

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