Saturday, 12 August 2017

30th Century Man 2: Scott Walker vs Tom Waits


Last nigh I finished watching 30th Century Man and Fiona got hooked. She said that Scott was very like Tom Waits. I disagreed, but then thought they do have a lot of similarities. The main difference is that Tom Waits' music lives in a skewed version of reality while Scott Walkers' seems to me to be in a completely different universe.

As I'm witing this I'm listening to "Cossacks Are" the opening song from "The Drift" which features in the film. After watch the film you are left wonderfing the closing percussion instrument is, as you see dustbins and slabs of meat being used.

Both artiss started out reasonably mainstream, the main difference that Scott was a pin up and Tom looked like a tramp (a description often given to me). Scott charted with the Walker Brothers and when he split he was successful as a solo artist until "Scott 4". Tom's success was augmented my others such as The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart covering his songs.

Then for Tom came "Swordfishtrombones" and for Scott "Climate of the Hunter" where they both truly left the mainstream. Tom often used made up intruments but his composition still are recognisable as songs.

Someone wrote about Scott's pieces (and this is how I remember what they said) "they're not songs, they something else" and I can see what he means. You don't listen to a Scott Walker album and get away with not paying attention.

Currently playing is "Clara" inspired by the execution of Mussolini and his girlfriend that Scott had seen on cinema newsreels as a child , and the adults would not explain what had happened, it features the meat percussion.

His pieces are poems mixed with tone pieces, they give the impressions of massiveness and claustrophobia, they do make you feel, but you have a feeling of not knowing where or when you are, maybe something like a mental flotation tank.

Tom Waits is clearer, he takes you on journeys , on foot or in a dodgy automobile, he is Americanm but not a TV American, his stories are engaing and you often wonder "what's that playing". They are songs though.

I think the only other people I could group with these two are Captain Beefheart, The Fall then to some effect Bowie, Zappa and Siouxsie and maybe Pearls Before Swine.

I was surprised to hear that Scott Walker never listens to his work once it's finished. I can understand an autor not reading his own books, but given that Scott is often ten years between albums he does have time to listen to his amazing work.

Having said that Tom Waits is almost a relief after listening to Scott Walker. Two amazing, amazing artists.

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