Photo by Tyler Mallory, 2016
I received a phone call one night when I lived in Austin, TX. It must have been around 1997 or 1999 even. Honestly, I can't really remember. I do know I was planning a little Super XX Man tour that would take me to Toronto for a music festival called NXNE. The caller identified himself as Daniel Johnston's father.
I think the call went something like this:
"Is this Scott? Hi, my name is Bill. I'm Daniel Johnston's dad. He's been invited to attend a music concert in Toronto and I understand you are going there. Do you think there's a possibility that he could ride with you?"
As he was explaining just how delicate a situation this would be, I distinctly remember hearing another phone line pick up and Daniel's unmistakable voice coming on the line saying, "Dad, am I going? I really want to do this. He seems cool Dad. Can I? Come on dad! Dad, come on!" Daniel did this several times throughout the conversation.
Each time, I remember his dad very gently asking, "Daniel, put down the phone and let me work this out."
Now, my memory of this is very fuzzy. I remember being very excited by the possibility of touring up to Toronto with Daniel Johnston. But, and I'm sure his dad knew this all along, it was likely not a good idea. Daniel was well known for very unpredictable behavior and required much support. I think his dad was simply crossing me off his list so that he could let Daniel know that he had now officially explored all options. Honestly, I was relieved. My biggest fear was Daniel getting lost or running out of his necessary and seemingly endless supply of soda.
I really love Daniel's music. His songwriting is so honest and real -- his authenticity is remarkable to say the least. Through listening to his songs and admiring his approach to songwriting, I learned a lot from him. What I learned most is to always be courageous in the process of making art. Just turn on the faucet and let the water flow. Below is a list of my favorite songs by DJ, which you will find on my Spotify playlist called my favorite DJ songs.
1. Walking the cow
2. Running water
3. Lousy weekend
4. True love will find you in the end
5. I had lost my mind
6. Don't let the sun go down on your grievances
7. Speeding motorcycle
8. Chord organ blues
9. Mind contorted
10. Never relaxed
11. A little story
12. Story of an artist
13. Honey I sure miss you
14. Crazy love
15. Devil town
Daniel Johnston was a true original. Visit his website to learn more about his music and visual art. In my opinion it is a must that you see the movie, "The Devil and Daniel Johnston." It is an amazing film! Finally, please download and enjoy my cover of the brilliant "Mind Contorted" song.
Take good care,