R.I.P. Daniel Johnston, 1961-2019
The highly influential songwriter has died of a heart attack at age fifty-eight.
Even if you don’t listen to Daniel Johnston, you know who Daniel Johnston is. I discovered the songwriter late in my college years and immediately started noticing his presence everywhere: as a pre-fame cameo in the early films of Richard Linklater, as walkout music for Philly shoegaze-punks Nothing’s 2014 tour, as inspiration for countless covers of “True Love Will Find You in the End,” as the designer of the Hi, How Are You? creature gracing t-shirts everywhere I looked. Johnston wasn’t just adored by a large audience—he was adored by an incredibly wide range of people.
Today, news broke of Johnston’s passing yesterday at the age of fifty-eight. In addition to the dozens of albums the songwriter recorded dating back to 1981, Johnston was an accomplished visual artist and proponent of mental health awareness in his adopted home of Austin, which he did everything in his power to keep Weird. The city returned the favor last year by designating January 22 Hi, How Are You? day.
So terribly sad to hear the news, from my dear friend Jeff Tartakov, that Daniel Johnston died late last night. Daniel is my all time favourite pop songwriter. His music captured so much with its honesty, humour, poignancy and great melodic heart. https://t.co/sULL7Ib3RJ pic.twitter.com/S7JWJaJcgn
— Duglas T Stewart (@DuglasTStewart) September 11, 2019