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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