“He who sleeps in continual noise is wakened by silence . . .”
“There is such a thing as internal exile. You take the unloved part of yourself and force it down into a Siberia of the soul: a crypt full of abandoned voices or tones of voice. Whispered secrets, overheard sighs. Orpheus wearing one mask underground, something else entirely when out in the needlepoint light . . .This is how the pros play the game; this is how you disappear, while appearing to remain in the spotlight”.
This is a book on Scott Walker.
On Scott Walker the musician; not the man.
And how could it be on the man anyway? How did Scott’s longtime fan David Bowie say it? “Why, I don't know anything. Who knows anything about Scott Walker?”.
Exactly right. Nobody knows anything about Scott Walker the man, but to the extent that we are aware of it, his longlasting journey into music is one of the most fascinating tales in pop and rock history.
Scott Walker is the man who went
from reluctant pop idol of the early 60s (“reluctant” being quite an understatement actually. “TERRIFIED of the crowds”, or “constantly running away from screaming girls” would be a lot more appropriate – unluckily for him, he was also absolutely gorgeous back then, on top of everything else)
to baroque / chamber pop perfection in the late 60s (if you haven't listened to his Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3 and most importantly, Scott 4 albums, do it TODAY)
to obscurity and self-imposed exile in the late 70s
to abstract avant-garde music icon, progressively from the early 80s onwards.
“Walker’s looks and existentialist charisma suited him perfectly to the mid-sixties hit parade; his artistic temperament and avant garde tastes were incompatible”.
“Only when the public totally lost interest would he seem to find the wherewithal finally to be true to himself, and by then the 1970s were almost over”.
Gifted with an unconventional, radical, post-modern approach to both music and lyrics composition, as well as his iconic, astonishing baritone voice, Scott Walker inevitably turned his back to the mainstream career that everybody expected him to endorse, and dug deep into his soul because he had to.
“Whatever audiences and critics may make of Scott Walker’s recent output, it is clear that this is music made out of necessity, not out of any other commercial imperative”.
No Regrets: Writings on Scott Walker is a fantastic collection of essays and thoughts written by composers, authors, poets, sound curators and academics who celebrate the avant-garde genius of the question mark that Walker has turned to over the last five decades. The whole thing is edited by Rob Young, author and former editor of The Wire, who also contributes his own lovely parts in the book.
The writing is wonderful. Each piece reads like a subtle attempt to untangle a small, very small indeed, bit of the enigma, the man who is “so withdrawn into a hinterland of edgeless, glassy introspection and landscaped musical anonymity he almost doesn't seem sexually human. Almost, at times, an angel”.
At the same time, the authors know better to keep their expectations down to a minimum; Scott Walker rarely breaks the silence, rarely gives interviews and hasn't performed live in over 35 years. Apparently, his consent to the excellent documentary “30 Century Man” produced in 2006, and his most recent discography - well, that’s just 4 albums since 1983, all of them masterpieces by the way, but that’s Scott Walker – have not been strong enough reasons for him to break this rule.
‘All that guitar-based rock stuff – I just feel like I've heard it before so many times. It goes on and on and never seems to end. It’s just the same narrow ground being worked over. It would drive me mad to have to work within those parameters.’ says the man who never listens to his records, once he has made them. Never.
I know Bish Bosch came out only last year Scott, but I'm already looking forward to your future music. And this book refreshed my enthusiasm for anything you do very successfully.
You are the 30 century man.
The Walker Brothers, 1965
Scott Walker, 2012