Black Swan

  • songfacts ®
  • Stockdale penned this track around the time Wolfmother were performing at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit. He tried to write it in the feel-good folk song style of such Young tunes as "Harvest Moon."
  • Medieval Europeans believed that there were no black swans, so they were used as a metaphor for that which could not exist. So people were shocked when The Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh sighted a black swan in 1697 on the western coast of Australia. These days a black swan event is a large-impact, perceived impossibility that actually came to pass.

    The lyrics of this song were inspired by a friend of Stockdale's who'd read a book called Black Swan, and thought the singer was a Black Swan. Stockdale explained to Artist Direct: "There's a theory that there was never a black swan. It never existed. There were only white swans. Eventually, in Australia and Perth, there were black swans. It's about how we interpret reality. Our reality is always changing. It's the creative people and the innovators who can change it. They can do things we least expect, and then that becomes part of our reality. I think it's slightly along those lines. A swan or an animal lives in the moment. Does a swan feel bad about itself? Does it feel lonely? Does it want to give a child food? Does it have emotions? Does it feel lost? It's the difference between an animal's mind and a human's mind. I wrote about that and tried to see where it would take me. I was thinking about that lyrically."
  • Thom Yorke, Megadeth and Athlete have all recorded songs with the same subject matter.
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