Friday, March 7, 2008

Band Spotlight: Daniel Johnston

History: Daniel Johnston began bashing out tunes from his piano and singing with his high-pitched, pre-pubescent teen voice during the 1970s. Johnston was basically trying to emulate his heroes, The Beatles. The young Daniel gave everyone he approached one his self-recorded cassette tapes. Johnston slowly became a cult figure in his hometown, Austin, Texas; he even appeared on an MTV special in 1985 on the Austin music scene. Eventually, our hero's mental health increasingly deteriorated. The "artist" plunged to his nadir, when in 1990, while flying home on a private plane piloted by his father, he had a manic episode. He took over control of the plane from has father and removed the key from the ignition and finally threw it out of the plane window. Fortunately, his father was an experienced World War II fighter pilot and managed to successfully crash-land the plane in a safe, wooded-area. Following this traumatic incident, Johnston was involuntarily sent to a mental hospital. The great DJ eventually was released and continued his craft. In 1994, much to the surprise of everyone familiar with his music, Johnston signed to Atlantic Records, releasing Fun, his one and only major label album. Selling a mere 6,000 records, Johnston was dropped by the record label. In 2005, his life story was captured on the silver screen in Jeff Feuerzeig's The Devil and Daniel Johnston. I highly recommend viewing this doc, fan or no fan. Look here, here's the trailer: Enjoy!

Years Active: 1978- Present

Line-Up: Daniel Johnston- Vocals, Piano, Guitar, Organ

Label: Yip Eye Music

Genre: You listen and decide!

Musical Style: Very inspiring, haha. No, but seriously this man plays extremely passionate "Beatles- esque" Pop music. But I bet those of you who listen to the "Fab Four" would strongly disagree. Johnston isn't exactly John Lennon, when it comes to musicianship and songwriting. His music is very noisy, low-fi, and goes against all of music's traditional mores. So, I will agree that DJ's music is not for everyone, but for those of us who are fans, it's nearly impossible to remove some of his signature symphonies from our scalps (i.e. "Story Of An Artist"). His music has been described as "naive" and "spooky" from various critics. The lyrics often reflect themes that appear throughout his life/career: Casper The Friendly Ghost, Captain America, Unrequited Love (mostly for a beauty by the name of Laurie) , Christianity and the Devil.

Best Album: Hi, How are You? (1983)

Top Songs:
"Pot Head"
"Wicked World"
"I Save Cigarette Butts"
"The Story of An Artist"
"I Had Lost My Mind"
"Don't Be Scared"
"Casper The Friendly Ghost"
"Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Your Grievances"
"King Kong"
"Walking The Cow"
"Nervous Love"
"True Love Will Find You In The End"
"Ain't No Woman Going to Make a George Jones out of Me"
"Devil Town"
"Come See Me Tonight"
"Spirit World Rising"
"Love Wheel"
"Psycho Nightmare"
"Love Will See You Through"
"Rock and Roll Ega"

Influences: The Beatles, Jack Kirby, Captain America.

Influenced: Kurt Cobain, Calvin Johnson, Matt Groening, Butthole Surfers, Yo La Tengo, Beck, Sonic Youth, Bright Eyes, The Flaming Lips, and others.

Why You Should Listen To Daniel Johnston: Broaden your horizons and check out an artist, who may not be able to sing or dance like Michael Jackson, but has far more talent and spirit... and also does not molest children. DJ's music is funny, sad, and best of all inspiring. If he can do it then so can you.

Grade: A: 94- Daniel Johnston is by far one of the most passionate singer- songwriters out there today, and "Casper The Friendly Ghost" is one of the catchiest songs of all times! Yay!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are valued greatly. Please adhere to the decorum on the "First time here?" page. Comments that are in violation of any of the rules will be deleted without notice.

3/11 Update - No Moderation

*Non-anonymous commenting is preferred to avoid mix-ups. Anonymous comments are, at the behest of management, more likely to be deleted than non-anonymous comments.