With the news of the passing of Scott Walker, a significant contributor to the experimental and forever reaching nature of contemporary music has left – and has left a void.
Those of us who grew up with The Walker Brothers, and remember hearing them for the first time also remember news of the breakup, the rumors of Scott Walker’s nervous breakdown – his escape from the glare of Pop Culture and the Business of Pop Music. All of those fueled speculation and a sense of sadness that The Walkers were no more. But many of us weren’t prepared for what came next. The Solo career of Scott Walker and how profound and profoundly different this side of him was, compared to the Pop Star image we all knew about. The rumors were, for the most part untrue – but that wouldn’t come until later. In the meantime we had this new Scott Walker; the one who took Pop Culture and turned it upside down – the one who got everyone interested in (or at least knowing about) the music of Jacques Brel – and what was his stark and uncompromising vision that some found hard to take, while others sat mesmerized with mouths open. It’s no surprise that artists such as Thom Yorke and David Bowie were greatly influenced by Scott Walker – he was clearing new paths, exploring new ways of conveying emotion – who wouldn’t find that something to feel inspired by? Walker it turns out, was a seeker; someone always on the search, an artist whose inspiration and ideas came from just about everywhere and were keenly tuned to the extraordinary nature of the otherwise mundane.
He will never be replaced, let alone equalled – his was a presence and an example others could take and shape into their own point of view. That’s the wonderful thing about forging new paths. He did the heavy lifting – now it’s for others to keep it going – take it further. It’s a living legacy and by no means a dead one.
In 2017 Jarvis Cocker, as part of his Sunday Service series for BBC 6 Music did an interview with Scott Walker on July 23, 2017, just ahead of a BBC Proms Tribute to his music and it is, without question one of the best interviews to be done with him. A wide range of topics are discussed and it’s a refreshing and insightful glimpse into the creative nature of an artist forever searching. Cocker is clearly a fan and knows his work well. It’s a delightful listen, if it wasn’t under such a sad premise. But at least we have it.
Scott Walker will be missed.