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I just want to go on record as saying I don't think you're missing anything on Jandek. He sucks. Can't really comment about Johnston other than to say the little of his music I have heard sucks less than Jandek.
But then, I'm not cool either.

Snake Diggity

I'm less cool than both of you, but, being something with multiple enduring pipe dreams, this is something I've thought a lot about. I think you pretty much nailed it; "cool" is in the eye of the beholder. "Cool" can be talent, but, in this case, "cool" is insanity. Or "uninhibited" or "uninfluenced". This dude who set up my Pro Tools shit went to this expensive recording school, and he said he spent a whole semester in classes whose main theme was "The Art of Cool". "Cool" is whatever each of us romanticize. It's escapism in it's multiple forms. It is impossible to define what's cool to anyone but ourselves; and the same applies to what "sucks" (and 'genius', when talking about art). In this Daniel Johnston dude's case, people who romanticize uninhibited and uninfluenced see this quality in a pretty pure form in his expressions, so they think he is cool. And lots of other people think these people are cool, so the follow them. And so on.

I don't particularly like Stevie Ray Vaughan. But he could do some ridiculously difficult shit on the guitar. People who romanticize difficult things think he is cool.

I'm starting to realize that anytime a debate hinges on the definition of one word, there's going to be kind of a fucked quality about it.

Snake Diggity

PS Hate that you can't edit comments once they're posted.

sleep in

If you are creating art and not thinking about what others are going to think about it, but only what you think, and how you feel about it, then you're cool. in my book. it doesn't mean what you do is necessarily any good, but there's still something cool about that. not giving a f---.

By the way I don't think D.J.'s music is any good either. I think he is creative....but genius ? people just use that word because he is crazy, and they make the leap of associating creative crazies with geniuses. Just because Brian Wilson is doesn't mean they all are.

The other thing you have to consider is that many times, people involved in a 'scene', are just insecure. So they just go along with whatever is the latest thing. It can often be rather pathetic.

Snake Diggity

Just stumbled across this interview with a 17 yr old Rhett Miller (future Old 97s frontman and my personal idol):


About 1/2 through he mentions Daniel Johnston (what a disturbed genius he is and how he wants to steal Johnston's marketing technique).

Must be nice to have an entertainment lawyer father and a manager at 17. Pfft...


well there are those people who live a second-hand life, who HAVE to love something written on a t-shirt of one of them *cough* genius songwriters, because they believe in "cool" or who despise it because cool is so uncool. there is cool and uncool and then there's how you feel. hating on others about taste or talent is a waste of time in my opinion. like it or leave it.
i find it quite fascinating that there seems to be such a hierarchy bordering on fascism in the austin music scene.


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You're right. I don't get it either. When a person like me spends years learning an instrument-really, actively learning chords, scales, etc. - and this goof has fans all over the world? If this guy hadn't been discovered, he'd most likely be locked up or dead. Who the fuck encourages something like this? Hey, its still America, sort of...I guess. He's got the right to make absolute shit music and proliferate said shit to the greatest degree possible. I just wish he wouldn't.
Some 'clever' Alterna-guy who lives up the street loaned me a tape (yeah, I know) and went on and on about how Johnston is a fuckin' genius. I heard the tape, told Alterna-guy that it was shit and he became defensive. He looked at me with such contempt, cussing, saying I'm an idiot because I have the balls to disagree with so many people who love Johnston.
Well, they're wrong. Every last one of them. Johnston is no artist and certainly no musician. I know several people who take head-meds, can't draw or play music. These people have acted out, caused their families grief, refused their medication, etc. Why no documentary or avid cult following for these folks? I may never find the answer, but I'm not letting this drop. This guy sucks and he needs to shut up and leave everyone's ears alone. If necessary, I'll challenge Johnston to a Career Vs. Career Match. Whoever loses, via pinfall or submission, has to give up music forever and publicly apologize for any inconveniences that his music may have caused.
I think I can take him...

Nike Shox

Your article looks good, I like bits and pieces of daily life, like a movie.


what daniel does cant be taught. the man has a gift of enhanced musical perception and is exceptional at fitting music and lyrics perfectly together. just because you cant get past raw production doesnt mean theres no complexity hidden in his songs. wake up. theres a reason musicians/songwriters think hes a genius

Dylan Barnes

Who are you bineZ, Spike Lee? I'm a musician and I don't think he's a genius, he can be funny and witty at times, but that's through his accidental adolescence -- the guy can't keep a beat, and he's a terrible reincarnation of The Beatles. His lyrics do not fit perfectly together, and there are about fifty examples of rushed lines and forgotten lyrics as seen by extended breaths. It's not hidden, it is virtually non-existent. Don't walk around with your pretentious hip demeanor when all you're showing the world is that you thirst to be anything but normal. Capitalize your letters and learn correct punctuation: prick. Maybe someone could take you seriously.

I'm 17 years old, just thought you should know.


@Dylan Barnes - LMFAO! <- I've never used that turn of phrase(?) before. Don't think I will again... Nice one.






I've struggled with very similar questions after hearing some of his music and seeing the documentary. I decided that I think people like DJ because he teeters on the edge of art and madness. He's like the right hemisphere of the brain personified, not filtered by that pesky, logical left brain. We all have some measure of insanity, but he's got a big dose, and when he makes music or picks up a pen, raw emotion colored with creative madness pours out of him. If you consider a lot of art to be overly complicated expression of emotion and the human spirit, then DJ is the guy for you--not complicated at all, just expression.

I also agree that a lot of fans are just jumping on the bandwagon, and not thinking about what, if anything, is important or interesting about DJ. But there must be something important going on when a lot of musicians and artists think highly of him--I don't think they're all stupid or just following a trend. I know some of you will disagree with that and say that there is nothing valuable about DJ's art. But I think some kinds of art can be appreciated and examined for their value without necessarily being something you'd put on your iPod or your wall. I don't really like listening to DJ that much, but it's interesting to think about why other people have a lot of respect for what he does, rather than just condemning him and all his listeners as idiots.

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