Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

April 2007

Music to Picture

Philip is featured as an interviewee and musician in the documentary about Scott Walker, the most influential and enigmatic figure in rock history.

Stephen Kijak writes;

How does one make a film about a man described as “an enigma, a recluse, a genius “; a man who is still alive and spends more time out of the public eye than any working musician today? And what do you do when the subject is so much more human, humorous and humble than the towering myth suggests? Discovery and inspiration.

I love the moment of discovery, when you hear something you never knew existed, could hardly even imagine existing – a voice, a sound, a song. When something inside you vibrates sympathetically, when you know you are hooked. First times. Always memorable. Scott Walker’s “The Old Man’s Back Again (dedicated to the Neo-Stalinist Regime)” was recorded in 1969. That song flicked a switch in my brain one late-afternoon in San Francisco, 1991. The bass. The VOICE.

But the real charge, the real jolt, aside from The Greatest Male Voice on Record, is the lyric. Are the lyrics. Archangels, aging transvestites, revolutionaries, desperate spinsters, rain on train windows, ragged soldiers and plastic palace people; the well is very deep and I fell right in. Inspiration. Yes, I first fell for Walker’s surreal and epically-orchestrated 60’s pop, feeling an affinity with this ‘American with a European imagination”, being a bit of a Brit-centric music snob myself, but what is most fascinating, what is most inspiring is the journey he went on and the place he arrived at. Don’t look back. Dylan might have said it but Scott Walker lived it.

There isn’t a better role model out there for following your own voice, vision, artistic instincts, dreams, nightmares… Art is not easy. Scott Walker’s decade-long hauls between albums now demonstrate that, but the life-lessons for any creative person contained between the grooves on his finely crafted (analogue) albums, is well worth the wait, is worth the time it takes to come to grips with the sounds this man is now making at age 63. So. Create a dense and abstract meditation on his current opus, “The Drift”? Could have done. Had it in mind to really riff on the music, get very loose, minimal, elliptical.

However. There is a story there. The story of a journey; of a man and a songwriter.

The plan then became to try and shine a black-light on the enigma – not to penetrate it, but to respect it, and to let the music tell its own story. And then there’s Scott. Sitting on a sofa at his manager’s office kindly offering a few anecdotes and meditations, a few clues and confessions.

A great storyteller. A more than great songwriter. A consummate artist and the reason I’ve kept at this film for the last four or five years. Inspiring.


Featuring Damon Albarn Dot Allison Marc Almond David Bates JD Beauvallet Ed Bicknell David Bowie Hugh Burns on guitar Cally Callomon Al Clark Jarvis Cocker Cathal Coughlan Rob Ellis Brian Eno Gavin Friday Brian Gascoigne Alison Goldfrapp Colin Greenwood Jonny Greenwood Neil Hannon Richard Hawley Martin Lawrance Ute Lemper Lulu Alasdaire Malloy Johnny Marr Angela Morley Michael Morris Ed O’Brien Peter Olliff Tim Painter – Big Box Construction Evan Parker Arnie Potts Simon Raymonde Philip Sheppard David Sefton Sting Peter Walsh Mark Warman Hector Zazou And Scott Walker Narrated by Sara Kestelman Associate Producers Gale Harold David Sefton Avi Zev Weider Director of Photography Grant Gee Editing Grant Gee Mat Whitecross Additional editing Jerry Chater Special Motion Graphics Directed and Designed by Graham Wood For Tomato Films