I was saddened to hear the news of Scott Walker’s death this morning. He was an artist who explored and experimented with music in a way which belied his original incarnation as a 1960s teen heart throb and pop act with The Walker brothers.
However, for me his magic was as a storytelling singer, a troubador, a chanteur. In my other life as a performing poet it is the storytellers who grab my attention on stage and Scott Walker did just that. In his deep baritone voice and his choice of songs and songwriters he told those stories of Vietnam War vets, of sailors in Amsterdam, of Knights challenging the Devil to a game of chess, of love, of loss, of triumph and all ‘in a kick arse way’.
The mix I have put together as tribute to Scott Walker includes a track from his great influence Jaques Brel and from two of those who openly cite Walker as their influence; David Bowie and Marc Almond.
On a personal note I have also included my absolute favourite Scott Walker track ‘The Old Man’s Back Again’. A track I was made aware of by one of my oldest friends, Kevin Buckley. Kevin and I, along with our mate John Davey were into The Face, Kraftwerk, Bowie, Airto and Fourth World, Talking Heads as kids in our late Primary and Secondary school days. This particular Scott Walker track was on one of those DJ curated ‘Late Night Tales’ compilations from sometime in the early 2000s, in this case mixed by French band Air.
Kevin played it to both John and I on seperate occassions and for me it became one of those tracks which made me understand how much and why music is so important to me. It also became a track which my then 9 year old son and his mate learned word for word as it soundtracked a week’s holiday in France.
I hope you enjoy this mix, it is a very personal tribute and focuses on the Scott 4 album when I could have easily cast the net wider. It also focuses on Scott walker, his influence and his influenced in the role of storyteller, troubador and chanteur. Oh, and anyone whose real name is Engels is ok with me too.
Scott Walker 1943 – 2019