I was lucky enough to see Daniel Johnston perform three times. The first time and last time were both very good. The second time was… a little rough. He was a deeply troubled man, who struggled with mental illness his entire life. Johnston was an outsider artist, and a genius songwriter.
Johnson had been in poor health, according to the paper. Although he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, his physical wellbeing suffered after he took a fall and was hospitalized; he also had to contend with changes in his medication routine.
The singer will best be remembered for his warbly, high tenor and simplistic ruminations on love and life on songs like “Life in Vain,” “True Love Will Find You in the End,” and “Walking the Cow.” On his best songs, his voice ached with earnestness and longing, features that attracted a number of high profile fans. Cobain wore a T-shirt repping Johnston’s Hi, How Are You album (also a mural in Austin, Texas), and artists including Flaming Lips, Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes, and Beck have all covered his songs.
This is my favorite Daniel Johnston song, True Love Will Find You In the End. It’s so beautiful. Safe travels, Daniel.