Daniel Johnston has quite the fan base in Austin, Texas, where the author of this blog lives. Johnston landed in Austin around 1985, and while working at a McDonald handed out home-recorded tapes of his "outsider" music. He wound up on Mtv's "The Cutting Edge," and quickly developed a cult following.
Though his incredible life was the subject of the 2006 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, many people are not familiar with Johnston's music (and art). He is heavily associated with Austin and its music scene, but what may is lesser known is Johnston was raised in West Virginia's northern panhandle. On the 1980 tape Songs of Pain, Johnston expresses his love for the Mountain State on the track "Wild West Virginia."
His music - "awkward" and "haphazard" but melodic and earnest - has been revered by legendary artists David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and Beck. His songs were also covered by the likes of The Flaming Lips, Tom Waits and T.V. On the Radio for a 2004 tribute album. The music of Daniel Johnston was also celebrated by Morgantown's J Marinelli in a tribute show.
The complex story of Daniel Johnston, which involves the circus, bipolar disorder, mental hospitals, Satan and more; is too much to tell here. That is why there is a documentary. Today, I just want to post this video for one of Johnston's finer songs "True Love Will Find You In the End," which demonstrates the sincere and subtle brilliance behind his songwriting.