Photo by Todd V. Wolfson
Daniel Johnston, influential songwriter and visual artist who painted the famous Austin frog mural "Hi, How Are You" on the Drag, died at home Tuesday evening, September 10, following an alleged heart attack at the age of 58 years. confirmed Wednesday from former manager Jeff Tartakov.
Johnston's physical health has deteriorated significantly in recent times. Last year, his sister Margy Johnston told the chronicle that Daniel had recently endured a harsh period that included falling, hospitalization and frequent adjustments to his care. In January, as famous fans like Flaming Lips and Bob Mold covered his songs at ACL Live at the Moody Theater for the second annual Hi, How Are You Day, Daniel returned to the hospital again.
Johnston, who grew up in West Virginia and moved to Austin in the early 1980s, has 17 full albums of original music, including an incredible trio of tapes recorded since 1983: More songs of pain, Yip / Jump Music, is Hello how are you. It has at least three other original music LPs that have not yet been published.
"I've been working on a new album with Brian Beattie [of Austin] for years and I hope it will be released soon," Johnston said at chronicle in 2018.
His songs were covered by Tom Waits and Yo La Tengo and supported by Kurt Cobain. His ongoing studies with schizophrenia and manic depression were explored in the 2005 documentary The devil and Daniel Johnston.
Beattie, close friends with the singer from the early eighties, and later his producer, spoke with the chronicle yesterday on what made Johnston so inimitable.
"When we heard those tapes, Hello how are you and all those, there was no other music of my age in which it was so absolutely personal, "he testified." The things he was singing about, it was almost voyeuristic to hear him. So he really opened up the kind of emotions you don't understand yet. It was all for those emotions. He realized he didn't understand them.
"For me, there was something in the way that it was only itself and, at the same time, it was completely formed by the larger world, yet it was so singularly private in that strange way it was."
Beattie says that the first day he and his Glass Eye bandmate, Kathy McCarty, walked around with Johnston, the singer took them to his apartment and presented a copy of The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.
"The opened and read" schizophrenia "and" depressive maniac "and said," If you're dealing with me, you'll have to understand this kind of symptoms because that's what I like, "" Beattie remembers. "I thought he was so careful on his part to do it."
Even when he worked at McDonald's on the Drag, Johnston had the ambition to become a rock star. While in the end he never reached the rock star lifestyle – or the romantic love he was looking for in his songs – he became a musical legend.
"He is legendary, but before he was a legend in his mind, then he became a true legend," says Brian Beattie.
"He is legendary, but before he was a legend in his mind, then he became a true legend," says Beattie. "That was the only time I saw it happen when someone was like," I will become famous "and he became a bit famous. He was the least likely person on Earth to become popular and he has it. reverential fear of the power of the singer-songwriter.
"She was the first person I met to handle a songwriting that way."
In recent years, at the request of his friend, Beattie has finalized a wonderful new album by Daniel Johnston titled Self. His producer campaigned for his release, but did not get the approval of Johnston's management. Beattie states that there are at least two other albums of DJ material unheard of the same quality among the recordings they have done together, many of which were recorded in Johnston's family home in Waller.
In the autumn of 2017, Johnston embarked on what has been called his "final tour", although he didn't think it would be at that time. The five date series in North America featured the composer performing with artists and acts he had influenced, including Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy, Built to Spill, Preservation All-Stars, the Districts and Modern Baseball. At the beginning of last year, Johnston appeared at the Austin Mohawk for the inaugural Hi concert, How Are You Day, which closed with a curtain interpretation of his most iconic song: "True Love Will Find You in the End ".
This turned out to be his last performance.
Daniel Johnston on his iconic Austin Mural
Retrieved from "Reproduction: No really, how are you?", 19 January 2018:
"People call him Jeremiah, like Jeremiah from the Bible, but it's not really the name of the frog," explained Daniel Johnston about the famous tentacled-eyed amphibian famous both from his 1983 cassette Hi, How Are You: The Unfinished Album and the mural of Guadalupe and 21st Street. "I didn't have a similar name for the frog. I always called Innocent Rana.
"He is as innocent as I was then. I remember paying me $ 70 to do it! And I was happy."
Today, many know the iconic image from its overhanging phrase: "Hi, how are you."
"When I grew up, after church, everyone shook hands and said," Hi. How are you? " Tell Johnston. "I always heard, even at the funeral home when he was a dead person who died of old age. The undertaker told me, and I was just a kid," Hi. How are you? " # 39. That's how it started.
"Then, when I worked at AstroWorld, I found a container in the trash that contained rubber frogs," he explains. "He had a picture of a frog and said:" Hi. How are you? So I decided to name my album Hello how are you".