Meaning of “A Pearl” by Mitski

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

Mitski’s “A Pearl” is a poignant song capturing the complexities of love, longing, and trauma. The lyrics convey the internal struggles of an individual battling past traumas, the remnants of which linger like a ‘pearl’ in their mind. As they navigate the emotions of a current relationship, they’re haunted by the remnants of a past “war” – a tumultuous event or relationship. This constant mental battle impedes their ability to fully connect or receive love. The recurring phrase “Sorry, I don’t want your touch” signifies a hesitance, not out of lack of love, but because of the pain carried within.

Tempted to dive deeper into the intricacies of “A Pearl”? Stick around as we take a lyrical journey to decode Mitski’s beautiful song.

“A Pearl” Lyrics Meaning

“You’re growing tired of me…” introduces us to the sentiments of a partner who’s feeling the strain of the relationship. They sense their partner’s waning patience, which might stem from the protagonist’s inability to be vulnerable, “all the things I don’t talk about.”

“Sorry, I don’t want your touch…” isn’t a rejection of love but a display of the protagonist’s internal conflict. They desire closeness but are repelled by touch, a visceral response to past traumas.

“I fell in love with a war…” is a striking metaphor. Falling in love with a war could mean becoming accustomed to chaos, pain, and suffering from a past relationship or event. This “war” may have ended, but its scars remain, and nobody made them aware that it’s time to move on.

“…left a pearl in my head…” offers a vivid imagery. Pearls are formed as a defense mechanism against irritants inside an oyster. Similarly, the protagonist’s mind has encapsulated the traumatic “war” to protect itself, forming a ‘pearl.’ This pearl, while beautiful in its luminance, is a constant reminder of pain, as it’s “rolled around every night.”

“…there’s a hole that you fill…” highlights the partner’s role in this narrative. They provide a semblance of solace, trying to fill the void left by past hurts. Yet, the protagonist struggles to fully let them in, not because of their inadequacy but because of the looming shadow of the past “war.”

Why Was “A Pearl” Written?

Mitski’s songwriting often delves deep into personal experiences, raw emotions, and complex relationships. “A Pearl” seems no different. The song likely stemmed from a place of introspection, where Mitski examined past experiences, traumas, and their impact on her present self and relationships.

While we may not know the exact event or relationship that inspired “A Pearl,” it’s evident that it speaks to the universal feeling of being trapped by past events. These experiences shape our perceptions and interactions, and Mitski beautifully captures this struggle in “A Pearl.” Her state of mind when penning this song was one of reflection, understanding, and perhaps a yearning for healing.