Daniel Johnston is without question a key poet and songwriter of his generation
Daniel Dale Johnston (1961/2019) was an American singer-songwriter regarded as a significant figure in the outsider and indie music scenes — beginning with his fledgling self-promotion on the streets of Austin, Texas in the early eighties. For his contributions and early influence on the “low fidelity,” and alternative genres, he is likened to Robert Johnson and Hank Williams for their impacts on the blues and country western genres — all of them true American originals.
Daniel Johnston spent the last 40 or so years exposing his heartrending tales of unrequited love, cosmic mishaps, and existential torment to an ever-growing international cult audience. Throughout his life, he continued to produce hundreds of songs and art pieces, compulsively expressing a frank, painful, and heart-rending account of love, life, and loss.
Johnston collaborated with the likes of Jad Fair, the Butthole Surfers, Bongwater / Shimmy Disc guru, Kramer, and members of Sonic Youth. Daniel gained his widest public exposure when, at the 1992 MTV Music Awards, Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain wore a Daniel Johnston T-shirt. Other well-known fans include “The Simpsons” creator, Matt Groening, David Bowie, Jonah Hill, and Frank Ocean.
In his lifetime, Daniel produced over twenty albums, as many singles, and his music has been included on numerous compilations, movie soundtracks, and television commercials. He appeared on MTV, performed his music around the globe, and was featured in dozens of art exhibits — including the Whitney Museum of American Art. There are several books and documentaries made about his life, most notably the award winning “The Devil and Daniel Johnston” in 2005.
Throughout his career, Daniel’s songs and drawings were informed to some degree by his ongoing struggle with manic depression — lending an added poignancy to his endless soul-searching.
The “Hi, How Are You Project”, created with the support of Daniel Johnston and his family, is a non-profit organization prompting new conversations involving mental health by funding and creating thoughtful media content, projects and events.