The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Johnston’s live love and pain

Nestled in the meandering roads of Silverlake, a line of people left the entrance and wound around the block. Fans compared notes on previous Johnston shows, the new biographical documentary film “The Devil and Daniel Johnston” and if Johnston would play the song they enjoyed most.

Daniel Johnston performed before a sold-out crowd at Spaceland Thursday evening. Earlier, he had made an appearance at Amoeba Records to sign his record.

Johnston emerged on stage shortly after eleven with a new red Amoeba Records t-shirt and black sweat pants. His canvas shoulder bag slung over his back held a white three-ring binder that contained all of his music and lyrics.

He began his set with the familiar awkward and offbeat rhythm of the two-hand simple chord progression. His voice rose a few octaves from his earlier request for more lights on stage and he began a lamentful croon.

Johnston’s graying hair stretched out from his scalp like a mad scientist of love and despair. His focused and furrowed brow showed his meticulous necessity to follow the music. His eyes gleamed with what seemed a freakishly maddening intent.

His songs focused on his affection for a woman ambivalent to his altruistic love, escape and peace through death and desires for repentance.

Lines from his songs included, “Careless ? You could care less. Remember the time I grabbed your arm, but you could have cared less,” and “Do you think love can save you now that you’ve passed the hour of repentance?”

His depreciating health and mental state have almost eliminated the previous songs he has become famous for from his repertoire. It was almost disheartening to hear people requesting “Speedy Motorcycle,” his song made famous when it was picked up by Target for a commercial.

Johnston finished a few songs on his Yamaha keyboard with the traditional and simple electronic piano sound. He moved about on the stage in front of shimmering curtains of silver and blue. He moved to his nylon-strung guitar loosely tuned and took a center stage position in front of the lights.

“Hello California. I was born here,” said Johnston.

“Welcome back Daniel,” yelled an audience member in response.

After mistakenly beginning a song in the same manner as the previous, Johnston clearly became frustrated with his faltering memory and sheepishly muttered how he forgot that one and quickly moved into his last two songs.

“Love was the answer I lived for, just like dope,” sang Johnston.

He ended his 45-minute set and slipped in to the backstage. He stuck around and signed autographs and took photos with adoring fans.

Chris Daines can be contacted at

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