Its 1966 and Scott Walker is moving flats again in West London.
From St. John’s Wood, to Chelsea, then to The King’s Road,
Or a Mews in Marble Arch, seeking the peace that the war-like
Screams of stalking fans feed him, as well as a place to point
Silence on, towards a new kind of chart; away from Pop,
And then pap, to arrive at the start of a conquistador’s
Golden journey, where he can alter the ballad and evolve
The love-anthem it apes, into art, with lyrics that gleam,
And in doing so, water-colour, as sounds become paintings,
The colours within crying, flowing as the scoring of strings
Makes songs arks. Here is a popstar with guitar, sat
Surrounded by lyrics. Feeling across the thick carpet
For the unravelling texture of stars. A teenage heart-throb
Whose beat even side-steps the arhythmic, to pump
And pulse the soul’s tempo, often within 3/4 bars.
Listen to Orpheus first and then Mrs Murphy.
The Amorous Humphrey Plugg, and on a smeared
Evening Montague Terrace (in blue). From ‘the stomach room’
To Plastic Palace People, his croon is not Matt Monro, Mathis,
Como; no, Noel Engel has an angel’s aim. He sounds true.
A 23 year old man cool on the trail of the ancients,
Constructing palaces from his singing, as there are cathedrals, too
In that voice. The size of his vibrato and tone is its own architecture.
Instead of Tom and Engelbert, Noel Engel raised the inner ear,
Gave it choice. An aspiration which matched all of John and Paul’s
Innovations. A royal and wilful act before King Crimson,
And Led Zeppelin raised the stakes. Or, Hendrix. Or Yes.
For there was Brecht and Brel in his music: battle-cries, blood
And Bergman, as the Boy-Child bleats his heart breaks.
To me, Scott did more than these progressives.
Even the pastoral side of Pink Floyd, post Syd and Pre
Dark Side of the Moon couldn’t catch it, as Scott’s 1-4 shimmer
With an astral path, clouded, raised. One that he himself
Could not see, as at the time his myth misted, and his personal
Tastes turned against him, as fans could not see the path
His art blazed. But the signs were there at the start.
These four sets were beginnings. Listen to the strings on
Its Raining Again; they mix music with a visceral echo of haze.
From such seeds he transforms, as did those working with him.
Some fell, like the Walkers, Maus and Leeds, others lept,
As arranger Wally Stott did into the persona and body
Of Angela Morley, the slide coinciding with the musical secrets
Inside Scott had kept. But Scott 4 didn’t sell, despite Scott 3’s
Prime position. Sent back to his shades, Walker wore them,
Whether there were on or off for eight years, while he returned
To the pap and clearing of contracts, his confidence wavered
As Orpheus wept tourist tears, of disappointment perhaps,
At the place at which he had been delivered. Instead of plucking
The lyre he was fucking his throat with a bottle, his talent
Diaphragmed before booze. And then the next compromise:
A walk back with the Walkers, offering No Regrets, and then Lines,
Which soon faltered, until the need for one last rake or claw
Through the ooze. Scott’s proverbial Nite Flights EP. Four songs
That changed everybody. Or, rather one song: The Electrician.
How that formed frames this tale. As from that shimmer of strings
In Its Raining Again, and that texture, Scott tears the fabric in order
To create a new way that took him to Tilt, The Drift, Bisch Bosch,
And the soundtracks. From Scope J, And who Shall Go to the Ball?
Pola X and Childhood of a Leader, into the miasma his life
Tentatively strummed on death’s day. As a youth he played to screams,
But as an older man, he played that screaming. The blocks of strings.
The crates, boxes and sides of beef hung, the night-howls.
Just his naked wail trapped in a bewildering mirror, reflecting back
Darkness; his Bisch Bosch black hole sees stars cowl. Scott Walker
Defeated the sun which wasn’t gonna shine any longer. From ‘wretched
Mathilde’ to Mussolini’s squeeze, Clara, hung like that side of beef,
Or pork in the square, his art evolved. He went further than that other
Sound scourer, Fripp, who in his seventies now is more his wife’s
Entertainer. Nothing wrong with that. But at 76, Noel Engel, before
The Angels’ aim caught him was soundtracking all fears and all
Darkness, and taking on that task, as a dare. He sized and stared
That dark down to become an In terror-ior sound designer.
And also definer of what it is song can do. Which is equal us
To the Gods, or if they do not exist, to the other mysterious forces,
A Pop-star again for the cosmos. Listening to him becomes action.
And so even in death, Scott renews.