Walker on Walker: 4 lessons Scott Walker (the governor) can take from Scott Walker (the musician)
Amidst the ongoing drama in Madison, the bleary eyes of a divided nation have fallen on Wisconsin’s boy governor, Scott Walker. His detractors see him as a union-busting stooge who will stop at nothing to advance his political career, while his supporters see him as a courageous hero of the new right wing, as well as an inspiration to doughy, sleepy-eyed college dropouts everywhere. Whatever your political persuasion, you have to give the guy his props: He’s been getting an awful lot of attention lately, and he has a pretty serious pair of GOP-backed cojones.
But lost in this highly publicized political storm is another Scott Walker: Scott Walker, musician. A relatively obscure but cultishly adored singer who began his career in the ’60s, this Walker couldn’t be more unlike his political counterpart. As a member of The Walker Brothers—and later as a solo artist—he specialized in the kind of big, over-the-top pop ballads enjoyed by folks who found Engelbert Humperdinck a little too shoegaze. Though born in America, Walker found nearly all of his success in the U.K.; he’s lived there since 1965, and currently leads the life of an enigmatic, musical recluse.
With the protests in Madison showing no signs of abating—crowds swelled to nearly 70,000 over the weekend—The A.V. Club looked to the life and work of Scott Walker, musician, and came away with four simple lessons for our embattled, less musically inclined Gov. Scott Walker.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the ones who have left you.
On Feb. 17, an already heated political climate took a turn for the surreal when 14 Democratic state senators fled to a crummy hotel in Rockford, Illinois. Weeks later, they still remain in hiding. The good Gov. Walker wasn’t too pleased with this impromptu road trip, and has threatened massive public-employee layoffs if the “Wisconsin 14” refuse to return to Madison.
Clearly, it’s time the governor ditched the scare tactics and just asked nicely—preferably in song form. Walker’s 1967 hit “Stay With Me Baby” could melt the hearts of even the most hardened rogue Democrats: “Where did you go / when things went wrong, baby? / Who did you run to / and find the shoulder to lay your head upon? / I’m asking you / begging you / oh, oh, please / stay with me baby.”
Hang out with the cool kids once in a while.
Gov. Walker is only 43 years old—a GOP wunderkind, if you will—though few would mistake him for a slightly over-the-hill hipster. When the guv fell victim to a sub-Jerky Boys crank call last week, he came off sounding less like a dude fresh out of his 30s, and more like a cantankerous old fart complaining about that darn MTV and those pesky Nintendos:
“You know, whereas I’ve said, hey, we can handle this, people can protest, this is Madison, you know, full of the ’60s liberals. Let ’em protest.”
“The ’60s liberals”? Really? Perhaps it’s time our hopelessly square governor took a cue from an actual ’60s liberal, and hung out with some cool kids for a change. The 68-year-old musician Walker is currently on venerable British indie label 4AD, along with the likes of The National, Deerhunter, St. Vincent, Camera Obscura, and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti.
Ditch the (Koch) brothers.
Much has been made of Gov. Walker’s close ties to the Tea Party-friendly, billionaire Koch brothers. The Weinsteins to Walker’s Tarantino, Charles and David Koch’s Koch Industries Political Action Committee contributed $43,000 to Walker’s campaign last year, and David Koch gave an additional $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.
It’s time our governor took a cue from the musical Walker, and struck out on his own. Walker began his musical career in Los Angeles in the ’60s, joining up with John Maus and Gary Walker to form the not-actually-related The Walker Brothers. After a few years of commercial success, the group split in 1968, and Walker embarked on his still-flourishing solo career.
Be a man and take responsibility for your actions.
No one passes the buck quite like a beleaguered politician. True to type, Gov. Walker has been blaming everyone but himself for the ongoing “chaos in the Capitol”: the media, mysterious out-of-state protesters, and those darn ’60s liberals. One can only wonder if he blamed an inattentive waitstaff when he was (allegedly) booed out of a Madison restaurant.
There’s only one thing left to do: It’s high time the guv manned up. In his 1999 version of “Only Myself To Blame”—recorded for the Bond film The World Is Not Enough—the musical Walker sets a terrific example and does just that. The following lyrics seem especially apropos: “There is no greater fool in the Fool’s Hall Of Fame / and I’ve only myself / only myself / only myself to blame.”