The Story of an Artist

Daniel Johnston

Limited to 1,000 copies, this six-LP/CD box set compiles 131 cassette recordings made by freak folk and lo-fi music’s unlikely hero between 1980 and 1983 in West Virginia, before moving to Austin. What you hear is what you get. Daniel Johnston’s personal troubles and childlike lyricism peek through varying waterfalls of tape hiss. He’s developed a grainy, black-and-white reel, not unlike the inside of a 1920s parlor room, and the bolts of this time capsule are screwed together with subtle and overt imperfections. A well-documented mental illness overshadows the fact that Johnston can hold his own as a competent, even incredible, singer (“Harley Man”). His simple tunes of love, pain and “Wild West Virginia” are heartwarming chapters from a mind, however troubled, looking to silence inner demons.