Thu. Jan 23rd, 2020

Daniel Johnston dies, from pop to brake

Kurt Cobain appeared, at the height of his popularity in 1992, With a strange shirt. White and too bigHe wore a frog with bulging eyes even more unusual. It was one of the crazy creations of Daniel Johnston, an American musician (Sacramento, 1961) who became a legend in the days of cassette tapes, a man of such shy and introverted that he scratched the obsessive, so shameful and sensitive that he went beyond of the fragile. A boy who never stopped being until his death yesterday at age 58 for a heart attack, after a long history of psychiatric admissions and an endless list of unknown songs that hardly anyone will ever hear.

Johnston was born in California but He grew up in West Virginia and was educated in Austin, Texas. As a child, music was his obsession and refuge, like that of so many young people who do not fit into American society. The chubby Daniel would never be the most popular in the institute, and in the basement of his family home the Beatles were his salvation. In your environment you could never fit for many efforts that you carry out, and feeling like an alien was the inspiration for an unintended, automatic, pure and fantastic work that went from the musical to the plastic, from the pop to the brakes.

His story told it perfectly "The Devil And Daniel Johnston", a must-see documentary. Daniel fell in love with Laurie Anderson and was rejected, naturally. And he made it the engine of his inspiration, naturally. He locked himself in the familiar basement, embarrassed and angry. He listened to music compulsively and recorded his first songs, releasing his pain or expressing his feelings only, something simple but for what I don't know he educated young people not so long ago. However, they were not just feelings. No one, in the reserved and catholic environment of its origins he realized that Johnston suffered a bipolar disorder, or the matter was so taboo that it was better to sweep Daniel under the carpet, let him work in a McDonald’s. Luckily, the boy looked for a guitar instead of a shotgun.

During his stay in Austin, Texas, Johnston came into contact with drugs (as narrated in the documentary was the LSD) and suffered a psychotic outbreak that condemned him to an existence of income in institutions where, fortunately, his aesthetic universe expanded while their freedoms narrowed. Johnston gave rise to a whole musical narrative in the form of songs during his treatment and plastic through comic drawings. He created a cosmogony of crippled characters like him and Jeremian, the iconic frog in Cobain's T-shirt, Casper, the friendly ghost or the boxer Joe with a hollow head who got involved in stories about impossible love, unfair captivity and supervillain stuff and Superheros. His work, captive and innocent in equal parts, was an inspiration for artists ranging from REM to Wilco and who had their reflection in artistic studies and exhibitions such as the one that hosted the Casa Encendida de Madrid in 2012, which was presented by an endearing concert of A man with the crystal psyche. Johnston dreamed of being more famous than the Beatles, but who can be blamed for it. He managed to be an amazing artist, although that cost him his life.

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