Daniel Johnston

Record review

Texas Platters

Daniel Johnston

Welcome to My World: The Music of Daniel Johnston (Eternal Yip Eye/High Wire)

Compiling a definitive Daniel Johnston "best of" is slippery business. The most rewarding elements of his songwriting are often highly individualized flashes of recognition spurred by a single turn of phrase heard at just the right time. For this reason, most every longtime Johnston fan will quibble with the track selection of Welcome to My World, but that doesn't negate its value as a Meaty, Beaty-style primer for newbies brought into the fold by theatrical document The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Most of Johnston's best-known songs – including "Casper the Friendly Ghost," "Walking the Cow," and Target commercial theme "Speeding Motorcycle" – are here in all their hissed-out, high-pitched chord organ glory. The raw yet resigned longing of songs like "Some Things Last a Long Time" and "Laurie" sets the tone, but "Never Relaxed" and "Ain't No Woman Gonna Make a George Jones Outta Me" offer darkly humored respite. It certainly isn't easy listening, but Johnston's unrestrained, emotional vocal delivery gives his songs the heft of humility. Where 2004's Discovered Covered celebrated Johnston's songwriting by pairing his original recordings alongside a star-studded array of cover versions, Welcome to My World lives up to its title by putting the focus on Johnston himself.

***

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