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I always liked the song Mother of pearl from roxy music. I wondered all the time who is the mother of pearl. I searched for a translated song text, there was used something like "the chosen one" as translation. I am no native english speaker, so I am not sure if this is a common meaning for "mother of pearl" in english. I found the wikipedia page for mother of pearl but i dont think this is meant in this song.

So can somebody explain to me the meaning of mother of pearl in this song? Is this just a common english phrase for a beloved person or has this some other meaning?

Is known if this is dedicated to a specific person in this song?

3 Answers 3

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I believe that the context is meant to be ambiguous. In this case, there is clear allusion that they are referencing the drug cocaine, which has been called "Mother of Pearl", especially in the 70s. The lyrics seem to transition from or between the idea of a romantic lover and the drug throughout the song.

In short, the meaning is most likely both "cocaine" and "an amazing lady" in this song.


"Mother of Pearl" has a few meaning in English

As a material sometimes used in jewelry.

As a slang for cocaine.

As an exclamation:

Mother of pearl! Did you see that <insert something amazing here>?!
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  • Thank you, did not know that cocaine is also called this way. Your answer sounds very reasonable, but i will wait before accepting if somebody else maybe has another explanation.
    – kl78
    May 17, 2016 at 16:41
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As a fan of Roxy Music since 1974, I believe the song is about Peace of Mind.

The first letters of Mother of Pearl backwards are PoM (Peace of Mind). Hence the lyrics:

"...Have you a future?
( . . . )
No no no no. (Yes)
I've been looking for something
I've always wanted
But was never mine.
But now I've seen that something
Just out of reach - glowing -
Very Holy grail".

To take it a step further, some believe that The Holy Grail is actually a state of mind/experience. In a later song on Country Life, we find:

"Now I know
There's a future
For all of us.
Not so long ago
I was so scared.
Then out of the blue
Love came rushing in.
Out of the sky
Came the sun.
Out of left field
Came a lucky day
Out of the blue
No more pain..."

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It describes the transition from club life to addiction to cocaine. Something that was a very common step in 70’s and 80’s as the drug became more available and affordable.

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