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I recently got Fun by Daniel Johnston on a whim and would like some advice on where to head next?
The best ones chronologically are:
Songs of Pain - 1981 - Great debut, touches on loads of the topics that go on to mark his 80s work (alienation with good humour and vivid imagination, Laurie). Piano heavy and home recorded, some of it is great and some takes a bit of getting used to.
Favourite Tracks: Monkey in a Zoo, An Idiot's End
Don't Be Scared - 1982: More of the same, DIY home recordings. He's matured, and the songs are more poignant for it. Whereas the debut had teen drama/humour, it seems like he's facing up to being an outcast here.
Favourite tracks: The Story Of An Artist, My Yoke Is Heavy
After that the next couple (What of Whom, More Songs of Pain) are less reliable, they have some standout tracks but aren't a good place to start.
Yip/Jump Music: 1983
This has some of his most memorable songs, a lot of DJ covers come from here (Speeding Motorcycle has been covered by Yo La Tengo, Pastels etc). By now he's pretty close to completing his persona, the artwork has all these pictures and comics of his characters and song titles. I started here, and while it is one of his best it also has a few duds.
Favourite songs: The Beatles, Casper the Friendly Ghost
Hi, How Are You: 1983
Finally he makes an album with less than 20 tracks. Don't need to pick out faves as it all works well. He's not in a good way on this though as I think his depression has worsened. Lots of despair about Laurie (his unobtainable muse) and love.
Then in the late 80s he doesn't do as much, he releases a couple of albums which aren't really a starting point but have some of his best on there. Some of these, plus some new ones, are collected on 1990, which has some BRILLIANT tracks on it. 'Some Things Last a Long Time' is one of my favourite ever songs and 'True Love Will Find You in the End' is perfect.
Also, the DJ film 'Devil and Daniel Johnston' is really interesting and he has also made lots of good collaborations.
Nothing he has done since Fun has been great though, I think he has changed a lot from his treatments for mental disorders.
So I'd go: Movie (Devil&DJ), Songs of Pain, Yip/Jump, Don't be Scared, Hi How Are You, 1990
Thanks for the very comprehensive overview, I will endeavor to find at least a couple of your recommendations next time I'm out shopping.
...is one disc of bands doing covers of his songs and the second disc of the original songs.