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Daniel Johnston

Daniel has misbehaved the previous day on his European tour. “That is why he is not supposed to go to a comic book store here in Vienna,” his brother Dick Johnston explains. An exceptional punishment for an exceptional performer. Daniel Johnston is a living legend who, as a man in his late 40s, still requires assistance from his family as if he were a simple-hearted child. The tide of events in his career of endless ups and downs reveal a deeply vulnerable, but, at the same time, unbending character that is unconditionally adored by his fans and has always been an idol for some grand musicians such as Kurt Cobain, Tom Waits, The Flaming Lips or Bright Eyes. On the search for fame and glory, Johnston rather became an antiheroic enigma, where you can no longer draw a line between his hurtfully intense life and his poignantly authentic art. Daniel Johnston’s unglamorous appearance and his unvarnished imperfection leave it all to the spooky power of his lo-fi songs. So when his pick slips through his hand while playing (“Maybe you can edit this together”) and he needs a few seconds to find the right chords, his brother comments, “This looseness somehow belongs to him.” Once Dick has softened up, Daniel finally gets to dig in boxes of comic rarities. After his following performance in a comic book store Daniel Johnston discloses in complete frankness, “That is the best thing about going on tour, because I get to go to all the comic book stores.”

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  • Posted: December 8, 2008
  • Camera: Michael Luger
  • Sound Recording: Matthias Leihs
  • Post-Production: Simon Brugner
  • Photography: Simon Brugner