Music » Livewire

Daniel Johnston

With Steph DK and Mikey Machine. Thursday, April 17, at the Grog Shop.


Even if you've never heard of Daniel Johnston, you've probably heard his songs. Take "Speeding Motorcycle," which has been indelibly covered by the Pastels and Yo La Tengo; Mary Lou Lord's version hyped Target on TV. Not bad work for a track recorded on a $59 tape machine by a guy who, shortly after writing it, was committed to an insane asylum as a result of his acute manic depression.

Long beloved by cognoscenti as a kind of musical idiot savant, armed with an intuitive sense of melody and poetry unmatched by most "professional" musicians, Johnston's been on a roll the last few years, helped along by meds and a few well-placed friends. Most recently, Sparklehorse frontman Mark Linkous helmed the recording of Johnston's latest, Fear Yourself, setting Johnston's songs in a star-showered context far removed from the utterly bare-bones sound of his homemade tapes. But Johnston's nakedly vivid vocals cut straight to the marrow -- and when he plays live (a rarity indeed) his songs feel so intimate, they make you blush. This may be your only chance to see a bona-fide legend in a club the size of your thumb, so take it -- but come prepared for both beauty and discomfort.

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