Scott Walker: The Outsider Sensibility and Creative Visions of Identity

Scott Walker: The Outsider Sensibility and Creative Visions of Identity

Scott Walker has been described as one of the greatest living avant-garde artists, with hardly any other American musician having had greater influence upon rock music, while at the same time remaining almost completely unknown to his countrymen. Walker grew up in Texas, New York City and Southern California, but he became a celebrity in England during the mid 1960s as part of the Walker Brothers band.   This was at the time when young American audiences were going wild over British pop-music groups.  The Walker Brothers were a vocal trio who wed soaring vocal harmonies, lush soundtrack arrangements and a patently somber worldview into a uniquely theatrical package.

Scott Walker’s voice was perhaps the most beautiful male non-soul voice of that era, and an increasingly free-thinking “Beat” attitude was at the core of the group’s appeal.  Although the Walker Brothers became huge in Europe and claimed a fan club bigger than even The Beatles, Scott Walker’s eccentricity cast a dark cloud over the band’s public image.   Scott began to write increasingly complicated interlaced music, and its sense of bleakness was intensified by his mix of translated Jacques Brel tunes with his distinctly arty and pained original numbers.  By 1969, his works were failing to appear on music charts at all.

An increasingly elusive Scott Walker slowly withdrew from public view.   His voice began to lose some of its former pop-music sense of majesty, a reflection of his new interest in the experimental synth-driven avant-garde, which he helped revolutionize to major critical success, but only minor public attention.  Walker seemed to vanish, while artists as diverse as David Bowie, Brian Eno, Julian Cope, Bryan Ferry, Ultravox and Marc Almond became fiercely ardent supporters of his unique body of work, citing him as a primary influence on their careers.  Gale Harold (the actor in Queer as Folk) served as an Associate Producer, along with David Bowie as Executive Producer, of the new acclaimed documentary about the influential artistic vision of Walker’s experimental musical work, 30 Century Man.

The ongoing show of support by the more widely-known artists helped to keep the shy Walker’s reputation alive until he appeared again in 1995 with a new album, a work that was both formidable and deeply disconcerting, completely stripping away the dark romanticism that had once filtered some semblance of light through in his work.  However, in person Walker doesn’t appear to fit the common stereotype of a tortured artist.  After many years, he has completed a new album, The Drift, and in recent interviews about the recording Walker comes across as plainspoken, unpretentious and honest.

The videos presented below include an extended trailer for the new documentary about Walker (30 Century Man) and a music video of the song Jesse from his new album.

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man (Extended Trailer)


Scott Walker: Jesse (From Walker’s 2006 Album, The Drift)

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Photos of the Day: The Mysterious Sexy Lothario, Gale Harold

Photos of the Day: The Mysterious Sexy Lothario, Gale Harold

Forgoing publicity, Harold’s background is somewhat mystifying. Born in Decatur, Georgia, perhaps best-known as the home of Agnes Scott College, Harold is reported to have credited Jack London, David Bowie and J. R. R. Tolkien’s Gandalf as important influences during his younger years. He attended the upper-class and rather staid private Lovett School in Atlanta. The Lovett School is well-known for its long and proud tradition of producing outstanding soccer players for prestigious colleges throughout the South. After Harold graduated from The Lovett School, he attended American University in Washington, DC, on a soccer scholarship.

Harold began working toward a Liberal Arts degree in romance literature, only to abruptly depart after a year and a half following a conflict with his coach. This is reminiscent of a somewhat similar episode in Jack Kerouac’s life. Keruoac, from a French-Canadian family living in Lowell, Massachusetts, demonstrated a level of athletic prowess that led him to become a star on his local high school football team. This achievement earned him a scholarship to Columbia University. He entered Columbia after spending the scholarship’s required year at the toney Horace Mann School. However, Kerouac broke a leg playing football during his freshman year and argued constantly with his coach, who kept him benched. As a result, he ended up dropping out of Columbia.

After Harold left American University, he moved to San Francisco, California, to pursue an interest in photography at the San Francisco Art Institute (interestingly, this where Annie Leibovitz first studied photography, in the early 1970s). In addition he worked a variety of jobs, including positions as a Ducati motorcycle technician and a construction worker. In 1997, a friend suggested that he try his hand at acting, and he moved to Los Angeles to study in The Actors Conservatory Program. During this period of time, he starred in the 2003 independent film Wake. The lead part was written expressly for Harold.

However Harold’s big breakthrough came in 2000, when he garnered the controversial role of unabashed gay lothario, Brian Kinney, a central character on Showtime’s popular gay drama Queer as Folk, a breakthrough performance that included the first depictions of male gay sex on American television. Brian Kinney’s character, as well as the show itself, elicited considerable controversy, alternately praised and criticized for its explicit depictions of gay club life. The show ran for five seasons, coming to an end in 2005.

Gale Harold’s Reflections: “Life is Strange, You Can’t Explain It”

Brian and Justin: Every Breath You Take

Another Side of Gale Harold: Wake

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