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March 2019

R.I.P. SCOTT WALKER March 25th 2019: A Tribute from Rob

Never actually met the guy, nearly did once, but his work had an immeasurable affect on my own, so I can’t let the sad news of his passing today go by without a little tribute to him here…

Push comes to shove, I think, the work I feel most proud of actually and most lucky to have been involved in over the years, occurred in 1999 …I had released both my “Music for the Home” albums by then, and, one day, to my astonishment I was contacted by Scott Walker’s management forwarding a request from him to ask if he could use a sample of “Arctic Crossing”, a track from the first of those albums, for a song he was writing for the opera singer Ute Lemper (what turned out to be the track “Scope J” and that was eventually released on her album “Punishing Kiss”). Frankly, as a HUGE fan of his work, I would have paid him for the privilege but he duly paid me (!) and hey presto, suddenly I had “collaborated” with the great man….(something I’ve been dining out on, hopefully respectfully, ever since! …) A great man, because for me, amongst all the most notable artists and songwriters of his generation, I think he was the most innovative and visionary…an influence on countless other great artists to follow him, from Bowie and Eno to Thom Yorke and Radiohead, Julian Cope, Goldfrapp, etc… etc… and if you dig out/stream/buy the excellent movie documentary of him (pictured above) “30 Century Man” you will see the evidence of that from many highly regarded figures, including all the above (and indeed see me in there spouting off about him too!).

As mentioned at the top, despite our becoming musical best buddies, the process never involved us actually meeting, the collaboration was all done by management/email file exchange etc, but some years later I came close…

In 2008 I went to the Barbican in London for ”Drifting & Tilting” an unforgettable evening presentation of Scott’s extraordinary latter day songs that he had arranged for live performance, to be sung by other artists (Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker Gavin Friday etc)…the man himself was not performing but was present & overseeing proceedings from the mixing desk…my lovely artist friend Dot Allison was also one of the excellent singers performing that evening, and kindly invited me backstage afterwards, potentially to meet him…(I get to meet my all time hero, the famously illusive Scott, imagine the build up!) but I struggled to find the backstage area in the notoriously labyrinthian Barbican, getting more & more lost, and meanwhile lovely Dot knows how important this is for me and is texting frantically… “he’s not hanging around!” & “where are you?!”….”hurry up, he’s leaving!” & then finally “he’s gone!”….

I always hoped that I would, one day, make up for that hugely disappointing missed encounter, and hoped that over the following years possibly I might just bump into him, maybe at Metropolis studios in Chiswick ( a favourite work spot of his, and somewhere I’ve worked quite a bit too), or through another musical encounter, but it never happened…because at very least I would liked to have thanked him personally…for that amazing little bit of support from such a great artist to me… (how the fuck he ever heard my VERY obscure little track in the first place is beyond me, let alone him actually using it!) and for generally making my life as a dedicated music fan and participator infinitely more rich by putting all of his gloriously beautiful & mysterious work into the world…Thanks Scott, I am today wearing a baseball cap in tribute and listening to Farmer in the City on repeat as I write…

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