Monday, 12 September 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #33: Christopher Walken

We finished watching the second series of Stephen Merchant’s The Outlaws last week. I didn’t really like the direction the plot took this season, but the cast was still strong, Merchant’s writing is still funny (if a little BBC-preachy at times) and Christopher Walken is in it. Playing Christopher Walken. Except he’s in the last place you’d expect to find Christopher Walken.

Although he made his name in a diverse set of roles, from The Deer Hunter to The Dead Zone, in recent years Christopher Walken has pretty much played it safe and been Christopher Walken in just about everything. Charming, witty, twinkly-eyed… but with a layer of sinister malevolence that says if you cross him… boom! And often, though he doesn’t play the starring role, he has the most memorable scene in the movie. Take his face-off with Dennis Hopper in True Romance or the Gold Watch monologue from Pulp Fiction. They never grow old.

When it comes to popping up in pop songs though… Walken is all over the place. Most memorably in a certain Norman Cook video. Back in the 80s, there was a Ryan O’Neal film written by Norman Mailer called Tough Guys Don’t Dance. Mailer obviously never met Walken.

Beyond dancing - what about lyrical cameos?

Well, Wilco have a song called Walken… though from the lyrics, it does seem to be more about walking.

I'm walkin' all by myself
Well, I was talkin' to myself
About you; what am I gonna do?

Wilco – Walken

If I seriously believed that was about Christopher Walken, I might also suggest that Chaucer was predicting the rise of the great actor back in The Canterbury Tales

A mayde, and love huntynge and venerye,
And for to walken in the wodes wilde,
And noght to ben a wyf, and be with childe.

More specific references can be found in the following…

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Presidici (Et Chapaquiditch)

And a gold cap tooth is always misunderstood
Christopher Walken's in a terrible mood
And I broke some hearts I met along the way
But my heart's broken every brand new day

From their 2017 comeback album, Damage & Joy, which I clearly need to spend more time with.

Mark Kozelek – Live In Chicago

Stayed up late that night, texting away and talking
Steaming my suit in the bathroom
I'm gonna look sharp tomorrow,
Like Christopher Walken in True Romance

Mark Kozelek will probably turn up in this feature a lot, because his rambling talky monologue "songs" drop references like this all the time. But I'm a Mark Kozelek fan, so I'm always happy to feature him here.

Math The Band - Why Didn't You Get A Haircut?

I see you're living in the basement in the summertime
Your hat's on way too tight
I see your middle name is Jason
And I know it isn't Christopher Walken
So why didn't you get a haircut?

Being an English teacher, I never really know what to make of Math Rock. Other than it clearly needs an 's'.

Audra MacDonald -Baltimore

Ah, where, where was my mind when Mother said?
Avoid navel-contemplating
Floppy-haired actors originally from Baltimore
Who excel at mime, still play Stratego
And have issues with their mom
Sure at first they're very charming, their attention is disarming
But give attention in return and, dear, they'll drop you like a bomb
Yes, do avoid REO Speedwagon-loving
Christopher Walken-imitating thespians originally from Baltimore
Who can't piss unless their shrink says it's okay
Why let them break your heart, dear?
Put your head on and be smart, dear
Put some bug spray on and make them go away

I can't tell you anything about this other than I love it.

The Wildhearts –Velvet Presley

Velvet Presley lives in a hole
No one can stop those neighbours talking
Velvet Presley, rock and roll
Thinking he looks like Christopher Walken
Listen and he'll tell you of the time when he was leaving
‘Cos you never really had it that tough


Eleanor Friedberger - Owl's Head Park

I imagine Governor's Island is Shutter Island
I imagine Christopher Walken as a dancer named Ryan
It just don't seem right!

I think the reason I like this feature is that it throws up a lot of songs that are lyrically intriguing, tell stories, and are full of tiny novelistic details... which are my favourite types of songs, regardless of genre. 

Steel Panther -Tomorrow Night

Ponies and clowns will be walking around
Naked people having sex all over the ground
Britney Spears is making out with Christopher Walken
In the back yard Iron Maiden is rocking!

Regardless of genre!!! (Also, I think these guys are taking the piss. At least, I hope they are.)

Jason Falkner - His Train

And we talk about girls, what brothers don't talk about girls
And in his best Christopher Walken,
He says "Go out and get 'em", guess who's the protagonist?

I'm pretty sure I went to school with a kid called Jason Falkner. He wasn't the lead singer of Jellyfish though.

However, by far the best Christopher Walken songs I came across during my research are the ones below. Both are deserving of a Gold Watch.

Firstly, Aussie wunderkind Courtney Barnett…

You say "Christopher", I say "Walken"
You love, I love Christopher Walken
I guess at least we have got one thing in common

And secondly, old favourites of this blog, with one of their very best (much-covered) tunes…

I used to know you when we were young
You were in all my dreams
We sat together in Period One
Fridays at 8:15

Now I see your face in the strangest places
Movies and magazines
I saw you talking to Christopher Walken
On my TV screen

But I will wait for you
As long as I need to
And if you ever get back to Hackensack
I'll be here for you


  1. Ah, I love The Dead Zone. But you probably could have guessed that.

    1. It's almost like I can see the future...

  2. "Being an English teacher, I never really know what to make of Math Rock. " As a former teacher of mathematics the lack of an s is very very annoying, a pet hate, second only to parents who said "I could never do maths" (to which I would have liked to respond "do you say to the english teachers that you could never read?").
    Those Steel Panthers have got a lot of hair

    1. You'd be surprised how many people proudly boast they never read a book.

      Must spend a fortune on Head and Shoulders.

  3. For me, the best set of songs this series has seen yet. - Brian

    1. I enjoy the random nature of this series, rather than me just picking my favourite artists all the time. I usually make an interesting discovery or two along the way as well.


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