Daniel Johnston, Live At SXSW

Jeff Feuerzeig

By Jeff Feuerzeig

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Recorded in March, 1990, during Daniel's triumphant return to Austin, Live at SXSW was recorded at three concerts performed in one day: two in-store gigs and one at Palmer Auditorium in front of 3,000 adoring fans. Daniel had turned pop; you can hear Paul McCartney's influence in the lyrics and vocal phrasing. He delivers stellar versions of "Love Wheel," "Do You Really Love Me?" "Silly Love" and the confessional "A Lonely Song" with astounding fragility and beauty. Turned out that that fragility was due to Daniel intentionally "ducking his meds," according to his father Bill, in order to attain the manic "creative state." It came with a terrible price: that night, Bill was flying Daniel home in the family private plane when, according to Bill, Daniel grabbed the keys to the plane and tossed them out the window. While the two fought, the plane spiraled into a crash landing. Miraculously, both survived. God promises a safe landing but not a calm voyage, indeed.