The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore after this…

Posted: February 19, 2014 in Music
Tags: , , , , , ,

From New York Magazine
(Photo: Paul Cox/Courtesy of Beggars Group. Illustration by Anders Mutzenbacker.)

Everybody listens to music, consumes art for that matter, for different reasons. For some, music is an ambiance to their life, for others it’s a soundtrack. This isn’t to say that music doesn’t play many different roles in a person’s life because it does; but, I believe every single person who listens and consumes music has a primary and secondary purpose for the music they listen to. For me, music is a mood enhancer, a scene setter and a world buffer. At times I’ve also looked for music that challenges me, beckons me to immerse myself and just listen. When I was much younger, I went out of my way looking for stuff that was weird and challenging…which is how I found Skinny Puppy, Tear Garden and The Legendary Pink Dots among many, many others. It was a statement to the rest of the world that I was truly different (of course I wasn’t). It was a statement to myself, to look for things under the layers…to think about what I was experiencing, provide a context…and a subtext to my own life.

Admittedly, I don’t challenge myself very often these days. Maybe I’m getting old; maybe the mundane nature of adult life has steered me towards other more forgiving pastimes; or, perhaps the always-on nature of our culture has trained me to avoid having no less than three things competing for my attention at all times.

The first time I heard about Scott Walker was when I read a review of his album,  The Drift in the UK music magazine MOJO in 2006. I’d love to link to that review, but there are no online archives with that review available. I can say (with very little reliability, because you just can’t trust memory) that the terms brilliant and horrific were used in the same sentence. So, of course I had to check it out.

I am not about to pretend that I can write a review of any piece of music using anywhere near the requisite language required to sound intelligent and compelling, so I will just put it this way: listening to The Drift scares the shit out of me. It is not an album you take lightly, nor do you listen to it before falling asleep. It is meant to be heard with headphones, in a darkened room, with nothing but your imagination as a companion, but beware, that imagination, just like your brain, may turn against you, and wherever you go from there may just land you in a corner, curled up in a ball sucking your thumb for comfort. Or maybe that’s just me.

I think before I post something from The Drift, it would probably be interesting to introduce you to who Scott Walker was:

Probably one of the more recognizable songs from his time as part of The Walker Brothers, a trio from the 60s that was huge in England, while hailing from America. Very distinct period pop music…that drew heavily from Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley among others. (On a side note, I can’t help but picture this song playing while a psychopath goes on a killing spree in a watered down made for television horror movie on CBS or Lifetime…or Family Guy)

Obviously Walker didn’t just jump from baroque pop artist to a musical version of Lovecraft…his musical career progressed toward this transcendence almost subversively. I can’t recommend highly enough the documentary Scott Walker: 30 Century Man if you want to discover more about Walker’s career and how it led him to the recording of The Drift.

The more I explore Walker’s music, and the commentary around his musical output, I start to draw parallels with some of my favorite artists, such as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Smiths. Just listen to Mathilde, from Walker’s first solo album, Scott Walker.

So, back to The Drift. I leave you with the song Jesse, which features Elvis Presley talking to his stillborn brother Jesse, while dreaming of planes hitting the Twin Towers. Sounds a bit far-fetched, until you listen to the song (nightmare). One suggestion, listen to Jesse, then, if you’re even slightly intrigued, listen to the entire album from beginning to end, the way it was meant to be experienced.

  1. Love SW. Found out about the Walker Bros while screening Bronson. The opening fight scene uses “The Electrician” to great effect. The Drift is a haunting album. Someone compared SW to a serial killer who made music instead of took trophies of human body parts. Interesting analogy.

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