In July 2007 I saw Daniel Johnston play at London’s Union Chapel, and I blogged afterwards that it was one of the best shows I’d ever seen.
I’ve only just found out – though it happened over a year ago – that that acclaimed performance was recorded and can be purchased. Wow. I need to get this.
You can sample a couple of the tracks from that magical night: here are the vids.
A couple of years I had a life-changing musical experience when I saw Daniel Johnston play live. I’ve since seen the film about him and downloaded his entire musical output.
Daniel’s new album, Is And Always Was, comes out in early October. You can read more about it, see the album artwork and a tracklisting, and liste to new song “Freedom” at Brooklyn Vegan. Stereogum also has a perspective on it – it’s a “higher-fi” sound – and the new song and artwork.
It’s no secret that I think Daniel Johnston is a great songwriter and an inspiring performer. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think he’s a legitimate genius. A tortured genius.
I was finally able to see the documentary of his life, The Devil and Daniel Johnston: it was on TV tonight. It’s excellent. It shows how he seemed to be an artist from a very early age, how his upbringing influenced his themes, and how his manic-depression manifested itself. Johnston’s habit of filming and taping what was going on around him provide some valuable verbatim context.
It’s a great examination of a natural talent.
If you’re in London on July 25th and you’re interested in seeing a heartfelt, raw, outsider musical performance then you should go watch Daniel Johnston perform at the indigO2 (although being “supported & backed by Sparklehorse, Scout Niblett, James McNew of Yo La Tengo, Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub & Jad Fair of Half Japanese” means he’s losing the “outsider” label, I think). Expect: the absolute trumping of style by honest emotion.
I saw Johnston perform at the Union Chapel last summer and it was one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen. Others agreed with me – see the comments on that post, plus the review linked here. I’ve subsequently acquired Johnston’s entire recorded output, all 30+ albums of it. I’d be going to this for sure if I wasn’t going to be in Paris seeing Tom Waits.
More info on Daniel Johnston here and here.
Photo from Swansea Photographer under Creative Commons license