A truly great documentary works for the audience regardless of it’s source material; one such recent example of this is The Devil And Daniel Johnston. Regarded by some as an incomparable artistic genius, and by others as a troubled and talentless hack, Johnston’s cult of personality is polarizing to say the least.

A haunting film, director Jeff Feuerzeig captures the life and times of the outsider musician and artist splicing Johnston’s old Super 8 footage, audio cassette journal recordings, past performances, and interviews with Johnston’s family, friends, and colleagues past and present. Plagued by crippling mental illness since his teens, the documentary is at times an incredibly tough watch thankfully aided by the levity of humor.

What makes the documentary so compelling is that Johnston’s life and the coincidences surrounding it are truly stranger than fiction. You just can’t make this shit up. From his arrival in Austin via Carnival at the height of the ’80s music scene, to miraculously surviving a single engine plane crash (he threw the key out the window, at 30,000 feet, in a manic state), by the end of Feuerzeig’s film you truly come away thinking this guy is not of this world. Now in his 40’s Johnston lives with his parents in Texas and has since the 1980s.

The Clem Snide track below can be found on the 2004 tribute album Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered also featuring Teenage Fanclub w/ Jad Fair, Eels, TV On The Radio, Bright Eyes, Beck, Sparlehorse, Flaming Lips, and Tom Waits among others.

MP3: Clem Snide :: Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Grievance (cover)
MP3: Daniel Johnston :: Casper The Friendly Ghost

Video: The Devil and Daniel Johnston (Trailer)
Amazon: Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered
The Devil And Daniel Johnston Website ++ www.hihowareyou.com

+ Daniel Johnston available through eMusic’s 25 Free MP3 offer.
+ Visit The Hype Machine for additional Daniel Johnston MP3s.

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