I saw the movie The Devil and Daniel Johnston a few days ago and was greatly touched by it. I have been listening to his music for some years and I have always liked the emotional sensible pop songs with the personal texts about unrequited love and existential torment. The movie tells the story of Daniel’s life from the lo-fi cassettes he handled out in the early 80s over a series of breakdowns to his recent life together with his mam and dad.

From young years Daniel wanted to be an artist; “When I was 19, I wanted to be the Beatles. I was disappointed when I found out I couldn’t sing.” But the fundamental Christian parents were not happy about him wanting to be an artist. Here’s some lines from the song “Story of an artist”:

“Listen up and I’ll tell a story
About an artist growing old
Some would try for fame and glory
Others aren’t so bold

Everyone, and friends and family
Saying, “Hey! Get a job!”
“Why do you only do that only?
Why are you so odd?
We don’t really like what you do.
We don’t think anyone ever will.
It’s a problem that you have,
And this problem’s made you ill.”

Daniel Johnston has been fighting with the devils inside and a manic depression through his life. With the help of modern medications he has eventually achieved stability.

Side by side with his music Daniel Johnston has been drawing expressive comic book-style figures in battles against Satan and evil demons. Like portraits of his own inner struggles.

Please visit Daniel’s web site Hi, How are you for further info on his music and art. Here’s a link to the first Daniel Johnston historical retrospective exhibition at the Clementine Gallery in 2006.

He breaks my heart. The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a truly unforgettable story.

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