Henry Miller and Scott Walker: Awkwardly forced comparisons

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I’m a huge fan of Scott Walker.

Former Ohio-boy-genius-turned-Righteous Brothers-wanna-be and English pop sensation, via the Walker Brothers, Scott Walker is amazing!  He quit the Walker Brothers and went on to make a series of strange, terrifying, surrealistic MOR-y, and outlandishly beautiful pop records in the late 60s.  He’s Frank Sinatra on acid – but with a better voice and comparatively negligible Mob ties.

Scott Walker 4 is his iridescent masterpiece.

On the surface, he and Henry Miller have little in common.  But a “deeper dive” will reveal a set of very, very tenuous and ignorable similarities.

Similarity #1: Tacky usage of the “eye as an artistic image.”

Any artist or drug-addled musician will tell you: never, ever, super-impose your eye inside a cloud.  It’s super-corny.  It’s like some Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager got stoned and thought, “Whoa!  What if you super-imposed an eye on a cloud?!”

Well, Miller’s editors did it for his Cosmological Eye.  It hasn’t aged well.  But what’s done is done.

Scotty-boy took it a step further.

On the cover of Scott 3 – an album that boasts no songs in 4/4 time; they’re all really weird waltzes – our hero is contemplating life’s mysteries - or staring at the neighborhood cat? – inside someone’s (his?) pupil.

Does he pull it off?  Just barely, if only for the harrowing tension of “Rosemary,” in which our bummed out, upper class, tightly-wound protagonist has an rapturously out-of-character fling with Jim, a traveling salesman:

He smelled of miracles
With stained glass whispers
You loved his laughter
You tremble beneath him once again

Whoa boy! (Dabbles sweat from forehead.)  It’s like “Eleanor Rigby” poured through some Hitchcockian prism of lust (see Similarity #3 below.)

So to re-cap: pretty weird regarding the eye stuff, eh?

Similarity #2: Both found fame in Europe

Miller embraced Paris with open arms.  While “fame” is kind of pushing it, he was published there, naturally, and retains a demi-god-like status.  Walker, meanwhile, left Ohio for LA , then fled to London, where the Walker Brothers became the second-biggest band in the land, right after the Beatles!

Similarity #3: Both were vulgar guys

Miller’s nasty streak is well-documented, but did you know Walker dropped the “w”-bomb (that’d be “whore”) in 1967′s “Hero of the War?” How about that?

I could go on, but it’s pretty indisputable: the similarities are numerous, eerie, and irrefutable.

Now please check out these three stunning Walker compositions, “Plastic Palace People,”Boy Child,” and the best vocal performance of the rock era, “Dutchess.”

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