Surprisingly, your tribute to Daniel Johnston was mercifully shorter than I expected ["The Story of an Artist
," Music, Sept. 13]. And like many of his "songs," that's a good thing.
I was at Liberty Lunch the night he broke through to a national audience on MTV all those years ago, and it was fun for few minutes to laugh at his naivete and awkward charm. But it took a great local band like Glass Eye (and others) to interpret and present a more palatable musical aspect that had to go beyond Mr. Johnston's lyrics get folks to listen.
Some primitive cultures worshiped schizophrenics as visionaries in art, science, and religion. I guess that's what we're sort of doing as well.
But the superficiality and greed that inherently surround this business of music will always attempt to cash in on the likes of Syd Barrett, Skip Spence, Roky Erickson et al., just move a few units on the unsuspecting.