Daniel Johnston's early years are marked by his perseverance to create and record. Hampered by debilitating mental illness, he recorded 100s of songs in West Virginia, armed with his strained but melodic voice, a chord organ and a strangely out of tune piano. His recordings were committed to tape on a cheap Sanyo boombox. Hi, How Are You is arguably the greatest and most popular of these early recordings. Originally self released on tape in 1983, it has been reissued a handful of times, most notably on Johnston's own Eternal Yip Eye Music. The material is some of his most sonically varied, mixing tape and noise experiments with more traditional pop songs performed on either the aforementioned chord organ or piano. "Desperate Man" and "Keep Punching Joe" feature Johnston singing along with an instrumental LP by Johnny Dankworth. It's the simplicity of Johnston's material that makes the songs shine. They carry a dueling sense of melancholy and innocent hope, helped along by the lofi nature of the recordings and the uneasiness of Johnston's voice. There's no one else quite like him, his vision is truly his own.
- includes free download
- music label: Self Released 1983 / Eternal Yip Eye Music 2007
reviewed by Hank Ohs 01/2015
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