Black Swan Green is populated with a myriad of pop-culture references. There’s Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Asteroids, space invaders and Rubik’s Cub. King Kong and the Millenium Falcon. Levis and the Sony Walkman. And then there’s music. With the exception of A Flock of Seagulls, almost every other poplular band in the early 1980s makes an appearance in Black Swan Green—from Neil Young and the Scorpions, through the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac, to Def Leppard, Scorpions, and my beloved Meatloaf, and beyond. Here’s an observation, and I’d like to get your 2¢. I don’t think Mitchell’s musical references work—and not through any fault of his own. I think it’s a limitation of storytelling. It’s one thing to listen to music, which has an incomparable power to recover lost time. But it’s quite another to drop a band’s name in a story, even if it is the crazy hot and pouty-lipped Blondie. It simply doesn’t tap emotional resonances, at least not in the same way as saying “Atari,” “MTV,” “Watership Down, “Adidas” or “Thatcher.” Right?
Black Swan Green (2)