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Scott Walker: 'My last album was pretty perfect'

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As Scott Walker publishes Sundog, a book of his lyrics, he talks about big-budget burnout, his debt to Britain, and why he’s a huge fan of FKA twigs

A wintry afternoon and London’s roads are rammed with traffic. Mortifyingly, I am late to meet Scott Walker, the musical legend who rarely gives interviews, and ring, filled with apologies. No problem, assures his manager, Scott’s late too, he’s stuck on the bus. If rock’n’roll is the story of men who, in Bob Geldof’s description of Phil Lynott, “couldn’t imagine a life not in leather trousers, with a limousine taking him to work every day”, Walker is its antithesis. When we finally sit down, I could more easily picture the figure in front of me, snaggle-toothed and with a cap firmly pulled down over his eyes, as the protagonist of a Raymond Carver short story, about to grind his way through another day.

Not that he isn’t perfectly cheerful, in his own fashion, with occasional hints of mischief and lugubrious humour. Of Sundog– a selection of his lyrics over six decades – he reveals that one of the challenges in assembling it was having to go back: “It requires listening – and I didn’t want to do that. Cos, you know, I don’t listen to anything I’ve done once I’ve done it.”

(January 10, 1965)  Take It Easy With the Walker Brothers

I feel the lyric will always guide you to what to do with the music. Get the lyric right, everything else will follow

Related: 10 of the best: Scott Walker

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