Daniel Johnston

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

Daniel Johnston

The Early Recordings Volume 1: Songs of Pain/More Songs of Pain 1980-83 (Dualtone) Instead of firing off Earthly messages into the void, crammed full of mathematical, pictographical, and tonal information, all NASA ever really had to do was send up a couple of Daniel Johnston's early cassettes and one of those boxy old tape recorders for the ETs to play it on. Johnston's spare, deceptively simplistic, and subversively engaging singer-songwriting said then and still says now everything we'd ever want them to know about us: We're lovesick fools. Lovesick fools inward-bound on a perpetual collision course with our own vainglorious hearts, hellishly lonely and battered by the same cosmic storms that have tossed Cupid and Eros around the horn of plentitude since time began. Johnston, whose early-to-mid-Eighties output was already the stuff of legend by the time certain current Chronicle music writers blew into town in the spring of 1984, has amassed a reputation bordering on the iconic in the interim, and why not? His heart (and later, his mind) was always there on his sleeve, like a blot of mustard left over from lunch at Mad Dogs & Beans, or like the dust that winkled your nostrils every time you walked into Inner Sanctum Records, an early Johnston supporter. To the uninitiated, expect the lo-fi ambience of the 37 tunes on this 2-CD reissue, Johnston's first recordings, to creep under the eaves of your mind like heart-shaped spiders, spinning webs so peculiar and egregiously wondrous that you won't know whether to laugh, cry, or go mad. Be like Daniel. Do all three.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Eric Hisaw Band
Street Lamp (Record Review)

Tim Stegall, June 29, 2018

Texas Platters
The Watters
The Watters (Record Review)

Rachel Rascoe, June 29, 2018

More by Marc Savlov
Gary Kent Is One of the Last of the Dangerous Men
Gary Kent Is One of the Last of the Dangerous Men
New documentary Love and Other Stunts catches the daredevil legend in action

June 1, 2018

How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Neil Gaiman's short story gets an inessential musical makeover.

June 1, 2018


Daniel Johnston, The Early Recordings Volume 1: Songs of Pain/More Songs of Pain 1980-83

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle