The Story Of An Artist

MR 298CD MR 298CD

Limited edition 6CD box set of the very early recordings by Daniel Johnston, one of the most gifted American songwriters of the last three decades. Includes Daniel's six cassette-only albums recorded between 1980 and 1983, packaged in individual sleeves, plus a two-sided A2 poster and a 64-page booklet with Daniel's artwork from those years and extensive notes by music journalist Everett True. "When I first met Daniel in 1985, he was already quite well known. He had been giving away homemade cassettes for months and his live performances were attracting enthusiastic crowds. He had even been on MTV. The cassettes were his business cards and he used them well, with Hi, How Are You, Yip/Jump Music, Retired Boxer, Respect and Continued Story finding their way into the hands of seemingly every band in town. As the attention increased, so did the need to keep making and handing out cassettes. It reached a point where much of his paycheck from McDonald's would be spent on blank tapes, so I began talking to him about ways to at least break even. By the time Daniel left Austin a year later, things had changed considerably. I was finding national distribution for the tapes, but he wasn't well, and didn't wish to continue in the music business. He gave me a couple of tapes I hadn't heard before throwing most of his remaining possessions into a dumpster. By the time I found out about the dumpster incident and frantically dug through it, trying to salvage any tapes that I could find, it was too late. What was lost in that dumpster is something we'll never know. The two unreleased tapes he had given me were More Songs Of Pain and Don't Be Scared (ironically misspelled Don't Be Scarred). Both were unlike anything I had previously heard. Recorded in the semi-privacy of his parents' basement in the early 1980s, before he'd moved to Texas, the sound was slightly better than the tapes I was already distributing, and the material so strong that I knew he deserved a place among the all-time great songwriters. Both were and are fully realized masterpieces to my ears ... I was able to borrow a tape he had given Glass Eye's Kathy McCarty titled The Joker -- it turned out to be one of several versions of the Songs Of Pain tape that he had given out to his friends in West Virginia before moving to Austin. I knew it had to be the first of the 'new' releases, so I began distributing Songs Of Pain in 1987. A few months later, I borrowed another tape he had given to one of his friends. This led to the release of The What Of Whom. In 1988, I released More Songs Of Pain and in 1989 Don't Be Scared. In 1990, Daniel found some tapes under his bed (!) called The Lost Recordings, and these were released in 1991. Most of Daniel's early recordings were done on a $59 Sanyo jam box using the cheapest tape he could find. The term 'lo-fi' was still a few years away and I never gave the low fidelity of these recordings a second thought. It was about the music and the story of an artist. Songs Of Pain, More Songs Of Pain, The What Of Whom, Don't Be Scared and The Lost Recordings tell the story of that artist. They may have been 'just' cassettes, but Daniel owned his own publishing and these releases led to more songs being published, and ultimately more songs being covered by other bands. I'm very grateful that Munster Records has chosen to package the recordings from Daniel's West Virginia years as a box set. I hope you enjoy it." --Jeff Tartakov, Stress Records