The ornate arrangement, with curlicues of woodwind and dizzying strings, does little to dispel the undercurrent of despair in Scott Walker’s version of “When Joanna Loved Me”, which appeared on his Scott solo album. Here’s a gent who, reminiscing about a lady he once loved, is able to transport himself back into another time and city—”And for a little while, She loves me”, he crooned, back in 1967.
Nestled between two considerably funnier tracks, “When Joanna Loved Me” trickles along a rickety waltz, faintly ominous pulses of brass and tinkling piano revealing the song’s truly blue mood. Walker’s gently sinister tone imbues every line—even the good times, when “Every city was Paris / Every day was Sunday / Every month was May”—with a healthy dose of longing. Tony Bennett didn’t do it so much justice.