Daniel Johnston's life story is the stuff movies are made of. There have, in fact, been movies made about Daniel Johnston (most notably the critically acclaimed The Devil and Daniel Johnston), and if you ever want to get a look into the troubled life that produced this unique artist, you can watch those movies. This isn't about that, it's about the music.
When you read about Daniel Johnston, you'll often read that you can't understand his music unless you understand him as a person. Never believe this kind of talk. It is never true. Backstories and context are great to aid in understanding and generate interest, but good music always finds a way to tell its own story. Daniel's certainly does.
There's an unshakable honesty in his voice, and the simplicity of many of his best songs resonates deeply, speaking to some basic piece of our human nature that sometimes gets overcomplicated in the arts. At times he comes across as childlike, at others he strikes the perfect combination of words and sounds that rival greats like The Beatles and Neil Young.
Knowing Daniel Johnston's story is certainly part of what makes him so interesting to so many people, but that's because people are dying for something real. No matter how troubled, imperfect, and unpolished, there is an incontestable value to anything that is real, authentic, and human. Daniel Johnston is that, and you can feel that in his music.Click to start the list