Posted by: kubiakl | November 1, 2008

Hi, How Are You?

If you’ve ever driven Guadalupe St., by the University Of Texas campus, you’ve probably seen this image.  It is a mural done by Daniel Johnston.

When you first hear about Daniel Johnston it sounds like a story someone made up.  A musician/cartoonist with a fundamentalist Christian background (including some time spent at Abilene Christian University) who has chronic mental illness, exacerbated by some heavy experimentation with drugs, which has resulted in him crashing an airplane and being incarcerated.  His most famous recordings were done on a $60 boom box and feature his high pitched, almost childlike vocals, so they can be hard for some people to hear at first.

But he has had some huge fans.  Wilco, The Flaming Lips, TV On The Radio, Nirvana, and the Butthole Surfers all cite Daniel Johnston as an influence.  Why?

A large part of it is the simple directness of his music.  There is no extra processing or pitch correction, no overdubs, just a guy playing his songs to a tape recorder.  And his lyrics are painfully honest.  There is no thought to how it will be received, he just puts it all out there.  Like this:

But this one is my favorite:

That was from a great documentary done a few years ago, “The Devil And Daniel Johnston”.  Here’s the trailer:

To check out more, visit  Hi, How Are You? , the official Daniel Johnston site that is maintained by his family.  For guitar tabs and other information check out the  Rejected Unknown fan site.

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