[A version of this text appeared in No Regrets: Writings on Scott Walker, edited by Rob Young, London: The Wire, 2012]
Black Sheep Boy
Scott 2 (1968)
What is the opposite of love? Cowardice? Loneliness? Hate? Should music ‘about’ love and its opposite (whatever that is) be lush, excessive, all-consuming, or should it be restrained, hurt, withdrawn? The romantic fascination, or rather the fascination with romance, that reached its zenith in the 1960s with pop’s fixation on the boy band, was effervescent, uncontrollable. Female fandom, although not exactly without historical precursors, revealed the short circuit that exists between culture and desire, visual pleasure and ecstatic forms of identification. The boy band became the focus of myriad modes of projection, bolstered by the groups’ identikit outfits and assumed unities. The Walker Brothers were comprised neither of anyone originally named Walker, nor were they related to one another, but these facts are not important: what mattered was whether the assumed unity could hold, whether there was enough at stake in the game to want to continue playing it.