Upon first listen, Daniel Johnston appears to be crazy. Or brilliant. Or perhaps both.
Either way, there’s something in his sound that catches your attention.
And he’s the epitome of indie music, his earliest recordings were passed around on cassette tapes that he would re-record as he needed more.
The cult-like following he gained in the ’80s managed to survive multiple stays in mental hospitals as he struggled to deal with his personal demons including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
His list of exploits, from being arrested after painting inside the Statue of Liberty to crashing a private plane that his father was flying seem out of place with the man who tried to become the spokesman for Mountain Dew, while he was in the hospital.
His songs come from his fixation on Christianity and a fear of Satan as well as from the comic books he would get in trade for his own drawings. Some characters, like Casper the Friendly Ghost, Captain America and Laurie (a classmate that Daniel fell in love with) make frequent appearances.
In addition to his music, the artwork he creates has become iconic. In Austin, the mural he created of “Jeremiah the Innocent” was allowed to remain due to public outcry after building changed ownership. The same image is available on t-shirts and as a figurine. His other pieces have gone from being swapped for comics to being offered on his website for thousands of dollars.
His music is available for purchase or download on Yipeye Tunes.
Or download it via iTunes
Image is Daniel’s “Jeremiah the Innocent” from one of his cassette releases.