Scott Walker–30 Century Man

For someone so known for their grandiloquent, pop orchestrations, it’s interesting that one of the songs Scott Walker has become most associated with is the brief and basic 30 Century Man.  It’s positively restrained compared to the rest of his early catalogue: no horns, no strings and no crooning.  The ever distinctive voice it still there though, over a simply strummed guitar, as are the vivid, painterly lyrics.  But this time, instead of telling a clear narrative, we get a more absurd, obtuse picture.  Opening with a line about dwarves and giants, Walker quickly dispenses with the fantasy, name dropping saran wrap and Charles de Gaulle by the end of the song.  The entire piece is a subversion of expectations. Clocking in at under 90 seconds (closer to a minute if you don’t count the music box coda), it manages to strip away everything that was considered new and exciting about Walker’s work while still somehow managing to sound decades ahead of its time.

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