Clara – SCOTT WALKER

From the album The Drift (2006). “Clara” refers to Clara Petacci, Mussolini’s mistress, who was captured and executed alongside the Italian fascist dictator on the 27th of April 1945, just two days prior to Hitler’s suicide.

In late 2011, after five years of silence, Scott Walker returned to the studio. A new album from him occurs unexpectedly, like some sudden natural disaster. Roughly once every decade, Walker will emerge from the studios he has spent years in prior, with about an hour of music that consistently challenges the audiences perceptions his of musical ambition. The massive evolution his albums take result from the long periods of time in-between, and he always tops himself. Walker’s return now stands as especially significant, because the album he released in 2006 seems impossible to surpass. It was something he had been working up to since his time as a pop-star in ’60’s England, the most extreme and fully realized collection of songs he had ever made. It took elements from the outside world as jumping off points: Elvis Presley, 9/11, pestilence, war, famine, and death. The Drift, however, exists in an absolute vacuum; outside of any music scene, or any influence. Created by a relic of the past, nearly 50 years after he started his musical career, Scott Walker recorded his masterpiece.

The Drift, like its individual songs, lacks cohesion. It flows more like a collection of short stories rather than a great novel. It can be tackled as one piece, or each song can be individually appreciated. Regardless of how one approaches it, “Clara” acts as the key to understanding Walker’s musical and lyrical approach to his nightmarish vignettes. The titular woman, Clara Petacci, was the mistress of Benito Mussolini. Petacci famously refused the opportunity to escape and chose to face death with the Dictator; the photographs of their beaten corpses hanging upside down remain burned into society’s memory. The song shifts spontaneously from moments of uncomfortable near-silence as strings eventually surge to a violent section of blaring horns, war drums, and most disturbing of all considering Petacci’s fate, a percussion section beaten out on the side of a dead pig. ~ Furious.com

Birds
Birds

This is not a cornhusk doll
Dipped in blood in the moonlight
Like what happen in America

This is us
Our eyesides snagged
Dipped in mob in the daylight
Like what happen in America

The breasts are still heavy
The legs long and straight
The upper lip remains short
The teeth are too small
The eyeside is green
The hair long and black
Still coming through
Still coming through

She knows this room
She can navigate it in the dark
She entered the Palazzo at night by a side door
To ascend to a lift in the upper floor
She lies on the bed
Looking up not yet seeing
The signs of the zodiac painted in gold
On the blue vaulted ceiling

His enormous eyes as he arrives
Coming nearer in the surrounding darkness
His strange beliefs about the moon
Its influence upon men of affairs
The danger of its cold light on your face
While you were sleeping
She’ll eclipse it with her head
Stroke him ‘til he sleeps
Until he has nothing to do among men of affairs

Sometime before dawn
Her bare feet cross the floor
She gazes from the window
At the fountain in the courtyard

Sometimes I feel like a swallow
A swallow which by some mistake
Has gotten into an attic
And knocks its head against the walls in terror

This is not a rabbit skinned
With a body of silver
Like what happen in America

This is not a terrapin
With its shell torn away
Like what happen in America

The breasts are still heavy
The legs long and straight
The upper lip remains short
The teeth are too small
The eyeside is green
The hair long and black
Still coming through
Still coming through

The mood soon changed
In the clear morning air
A man came up towards the body
And poked it with a stick
It rocked swiftly
And twisted around at the end of the rope

Finer than a hair from every side
Finer than a hair

Birds
Birds

This is just a cornhusk doll
Dipped in blood in the moonlight
This is just a cornhusk doll

This morning in my room
A little swallow was trapped

It flew around desperately
Until it fell exhausted on my bed
I picked it up
So as not to frighten it
I opened the window
Then I opened my hand

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