Yellow Pearl

Album: The Philip Lynott Album (1982)

Songfacts®:

  • In this song, Phil Lynott sings about how we must "beware of the yellow pearl," making it sound like some nefarious big brother figure is out to enslave the human race. Lynott died in 1986 and never gave a substantial explanation of his lyric, but the music video implies that it has something to do with Japan and technology, as we see lots of Japanese imagery and a foreboding Sony Walkman. Around this time, many households were using Japanese electronics, but few thought they had bad intentions.

    Lynott's group Thin Lizzy toured Japan in 1979, and it's likely that he got some ideas for the lyrics on this trip.
  • Lynott wrote the song with Midge Ure, who also directed the video. Ure joined Thin Lizzy as a touring member in 1979 after guitarist Gary Moore left the band. When the group went to Japan in September, Lynott hired another guitarist, Dave Flett, and bumped Ure to keyboards, which were barely audible at their shows. Lynott, however, know that keyboards were the hot sound and that Ure could work with them. "Yellow Pearl" has Ure's distinctive synth sound all over it - something the could be heard in Midge's group Ultravox.

    "Phil was a bit like David Bowie in that respect: He was very good at being a bit of a magpie, and he could see that there was something happening that wasn't necessarily in his field of expertise, but he wanted to steal little bits of it and incorporate it," Ure said in our interview. "It worked better on his solo records than it ever did on Lizzy."

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