Daniel Johnston bookends today’s show with in-between bits courtesy of Benjamin Clementine, Trampled by Turtles and even Slash among others. Plus we uncover the sampled track featured in a stadium-filling indie classic, by accident.
- True Love Will Find You In the End Daniel Johnston
- London Benjamin Clementine
- Alone Trampled by Turtles
- In The Meantime Spacehog
- Telephone and Rubber Band Penguin Café Orchestra
- Proof I am Kloot
- Starlight Slash and Myles Kennedy
- Space Ducks Theme Song Daniel Johnston
Hi, How Are You?
Daniel Johnston bookends our show today. A singer-songwriter widely regarded as a significant figure in alternative music scenes. Much of Daniel Johnston’s catalogue is home recorded and often cited as being “childlike”. In the show, Richard talks of his personal experiences with family members and Daniel but sadly this episode in his life has long since been over. We discussed in the show that Kurt Cobain wore a t-shirt with artwork from Daniel’s Yip/Jump Music album. This is actually incorrect. Kurt wore a t-shirt depicting artwork from Johnston’s Hi, How Are You? LP but cited Yip/Jump Music as one of his favourite records of 1993. This proved to be a hell of a recommendation. Hence there ensued a bidding war between record labels to sign him. Despite Daniel being resident in a mental hospital at that time.
Plagued by mental health issues
He has suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder all his life. Daniel had a psychotic episode after appearing at a music festival in 1990 whilst being flown back to West Virginia by his father Bill (a former USAF pilot) in his 2 seater plane. He believed he was Casper the Friendly Ghost and removed the keys from the plane’s ignition and threw them outside. Miraculously Bill managed to crash land the plane in a densely wooded area. Both sustained only minor injuries. The incident completely destroyed the plane. Daniel Johnston was involuntarily admitted to mental hospital again after the incident.
Further, in his career, Daniel was the subject of a Sundance Film Festival Director’s Award winning film (2005) The Devil and Daniel Johnston. The highly praised film collates much of Daniel’s vast output. It proved to inspire more interest in Daniel’s work.
In 2012 he published his comic book Space Ducks – An Infinite Comic Book of Musical Greatness which apparently has a linked iOs app which we have been spectacularly unable to find. Daniel retired from performing live in 2017. Apple used his song The Story of an Artist in a TV commercial in 2018.
What a rich story for such a young man. As Tobin mentioned in the show, Benjamin was homeless in Paris by the time he was leaving his teens. As a result of performing music on the streets he became something of a cult figure in the Parisian music scene. He composed and wrote during the day and performed in the evening. Because of this, he managed to stay out of trouble. He was eventually spotted by an agent and a meeting was set up for the following day. Before signing a major deal, Clementine was working with a French tour agent and the independent label set up through Lionel Bensemoun (a French business mogul) which enabled Clementine to record his music.
He was booked for some major festivals, the Montreaux Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Eurosonic Festival, the latter of which he was billed as one of the highlights. As a result of these performances, Clementine was billed for the 2013 North Sea Jazz Festival but failed to turn up. He was thrown off a train for failing to have a valid ticket, something he attributed to not being paid by his agent. Penniless he began the 45km walk to Rotterdam to perform, which eventually took him 10 hours, thus missing his stage appearance. He arrived at his destination with bare feet and bleeding toes. Regardless of this setback, he received an invite to play at the festival in 2015.