Discovering Daniel, Remembering Steve

Singer: Daniel JohnstonDays shy of an upcoming Rhonda Ratray interview, I write this short piece as remembrance....

Yeah, I know, I know, to those already familiar I will seem like a Jaqueline-come-lately, but I can't seem to get over seeing The Devil and Daniel Johnston just this week (sorry Queen Video, but this DVD will be another late return). It has got to be one of the most fascinating and original documentaries I've seen. Daniel Johnston is an outsider musician/artist who suffers from frequent manic depressive episodes. Through his drawings, songwriting and filmmaking, what's so unusual is how deeply they touch you...or make you laugh (e.g., while committed to a mental health hospital, Johnston developed an advertising jingle for Mountain Dew).

In "Honey's Dead," a former blog I had written in the wake of my boyfriend's passing in 2006, I had been contacted by a reader who related to the ways in which a loved one appears in your life after s/he has gone. Although I couldn't possibly speak on all ways that Steve has appeared, I will say that beyond the numerous "coincidences" and visitations in dreams, that The Devil and Daniel Johnston became the closest thing next to watching it with him. Due to the similarities in childhood, precociousness, talent and sensitivity, this film gave voice to the lives of others who venture artistically through life with the purest of intents, and in doing gave validity and respect to the life lead by my former friend.

If anything, this film also reminded me of all that I miss about Steve, the ways he creatively impacted my life and inspired others. Happy Birthday: Some Things Last A Long Time.


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