Many years ago a bunch of audio cassettes were stolen out of my beat-up Ford station wagon while parked in a residential section of Queens, New York. After I'd realized this probably the worst blow was losing some tapes handmade (as was his practice of DIY production) by the cult figure Daniel Johnston. Both a musician and a visual artist, Johnston's become a rather legendary personification of a certain childlike, idiosyncratic indie ethos, despite the fact that he's had massive difficulties with mental and physical health over the years. Johnston emerged to a national audience in the US with a 1980s appearance on an MTV visit to Austin, TX, and the riveting, award-winning 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston helped create an upsurge in his popularity among younger hipsters. Johnston is becoming almost ubiquitous on the internet, as his intense, raw music gains more international devotees. In tribute to Johnston, still alive thank goodness but unfortunately never looking especially well these days, here's a glimpse of the 1985 Johnston singing "I Live my Broken Dreams," a 2007 clip from the "Black Cab Sessions," and Johnston onstage with the Swell Season and a children's choir at Austin City Limits singing (one of my favorite of his songs) "Life in Vain." FYI many of Johnston's early cassettes like the one I mentioned above can be found streaming on YouTube these days. Very much recommended! For more on Johnston, see: