The vulnerability of Daniel Johnston is something that brings me to tears. You can hear it in the way he expresses, he is talking thru his spirit, sometimes in melody, sometimes in idea phrases, but the uninhibited flow of humanity that flows out of him is something so meek, so honest, so powerful that my spirit couldn’t help but recognize and resonate with it. We had to help give it a bigger platform.
I was at Variety coffee shop in Williamswick writing for S3R, when I first heard Daniel Johnston. It was a daint vocal, almost gliding, fractured and full of character over the house speakers that caught my attention. I asked the barista who it was and she proceeded to put me on. I didn’t know much about Daniel, but I already knew I connected on a deeper level with the what was emoting thru the air.
The thing about Daniel Johnston’s expression is that its so unapologetically raw and honest, simple, not trying to be anything other than an advocate for Daniel. In that simplicity there’s so much power, so much so I began to dig deeper behind Johnston, and his 30+ years of recordings.
August 1983, Daniel Johnston, 22, found himself in a cellar in Houston, Texas, alone, singing and playing his heart out thru lo-fi recordings on a $59.00 Sanyo mono boom box. It was with these cassettes and whatever else he could find instrument wise that he made ‘Hi, How Are You’, a now fabled collection of 12 separate pieces of art that chronicle in realtime what Daniel was experiencing in life, relationships, dreams and the like through sound and picture.
It was from these recordings that director Gabriel Sunday rooted his premise in the immersive mutli-dimesional documentary, Hi, How Are You Daniel Johnston? Released in 2015, a now older and wiser Daniel Johnston, speaks with his former self, the child in the basement in 1983, giving him wisdom, reflection and guidance thru the realities that created ‘Hi, How Are You.’
The documentary, true to Daniel’s art, who also served as an executive producer, is a moving tale of a vulnerable musician, who in that regard hasn’t changed much, still an open book, a funnel for all the wonders his mind can see. Its incredible to watch him deal in multiple dimensions of time and realities, as his music, animations and different identities come to life.
Experience ‘Hi, How Are You Daniel Johnston?’ below: