Taylor-William Hill writes in memory of Daniel Johnston
The unexpected passing of Daniel Johnston this year was a loss that hasn’t hit me as hard since the passing of David Bowie in 2016. Although Daniel is no longer with us, his music will always be there to ask you how you when nobody else will. His unique blend of childlike playfulness with lyrics that personally recount Johnston’s personal encounters with loneliness and manic depression is harrowing stuff and is something I strongly recommend listening to if you haven’t already.
The Devil and Daniel Johnston were directed by underrated documentarian Jeff Feuerzeig, and, whether or not you’re an avid fan of Johnston’s music or curious and want to start somewhere: I would have absolutely no issue with recommending this documentary to anybody. What makes this documentary such an essential viewing is the amount of filmed content it managed to procure of Johnston that it is pretty much impossible to find elsewhere, making this very much an introspective piece of art.
[A] unique blend of childlike playfulness with lyrics that personally recount Johnston’s personal encounters with loneliness and manic depression
This masterpiece chronicles just an ordinary old hyperactive kid in the suburbs of Texas, as he blossoms into one of the most enigmatic musicians of the century. The First act starts off innocently enough, and you think it’s just going to be a warming rags to riches story; but as the film goes on the tone changes. You realise that there is something very wrong with Daniel Johnston. The less said, the better, but you should be prepared for the wave of conflicting emotions this near-two-hour film makes you feel.
You’ll be missed, Daniel.