Hanspostcard Song Draft — Round 3 Pick 3 — “A Pearl,” by Mitski, from “Be the Cowboy”

https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2018/08/31/ttt-mitski-edit_custom-8623da3b09aa8d00ed39165ffaae9f049fecfdc7-s1200.jpg

image from NPR website, which also has a good article on Mitski

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-key drums 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 acceptance.

I posted about “A 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 year.

 

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 fill
You 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
Songwriter: Mitsuki Laycock

First published on Hanspostcard.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    Good pick Lisa… many new artists these days don’t use real instruments so I’m very happy when they do. This sounds alive and real. Love the guitar in this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      So glad you like her sound and I agree about much of modern music these days!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Thanks Lisa…that computer stuff is old and tired to me…some could say that about guitars but I guess it’s a personal choice.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting pick, Lisa. I had not heard of Mitski before.

    What caught my immediate attention is the photo of her you included in the post. A female Asian bassist – certainly not something you see every day! Based on a quick look on Wikipedia, I understand she also plays guitar and the piano. I have a lot of respect for multi-instrumentalists.

    While at first sight, it doesn’t look like her music is in my core wheelhouse, it sounds intriguing. I would definitely need to spend more time with it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks for the detailed comment, Christian. The piano is what she was trained in when she was at the conservatory.

      Like

      1. It’s cool that with her skills, she can pretty much play all instruments on her albums. Which from what I could see was the case on “Be the Cowboy”, except for a couple of tunes where she had some help from guest musicians!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          She is really talented!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. memadtwo says:

    I agree about the full sound. Music to fill the room. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Kerfe, I’m glad you like her music.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul says:

    Good pick Lisa! I’m glad to see some current artists being added to the draft. I’ve heard a lot of good things about her – need to spend some more time with her music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Paul 🙂 There are at least a few of her songs out there with some decent videos. Beware of the “Happy” video though, it’s quite disturbing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The Hinoeuma says:

    I commented on Hans site. I’ve been crazy busy so, I wanted to give you a heads up that I saw his post/your post. Good song.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Vic, thank you! I’m glad you like it. Will check in at Hans soon also. What’s keeping you so busy? Hoping it’s not work.

      Like

      1. The Hinoeuma says:

        A variety of things. I’m pulled in many different directions. Too much information for a comment section. I could write a book on what’s going on…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          So why don’t you? Or is one of directions a book you’re writing? Now I’m intrigued…

          Like

          1. The Hinoeuma says:

            Oh, no. No books. I wear many hats but, that isn’t one of them. I was just joking. I’m no writer in that sense.

            Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.