main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Creator: Daniel Johnston

Daniel Dale Johnston (born 1961) is an American musician and artist. Although he is not too well known, he has a strong cult following. Johnston is usually known for his lo-fi recordings from the 1980s, his most popular album being Hi, How Are You?, released in 1983.

Along with writing music, he is also an artist/cartoonist. In a sad literal case of the Mad Artist trope, Johnston has been diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and has been in and out of mental institutions.
  • Author Appeal: Comic books, unrequited love, Satan, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and McDonald's.
  • Big Name Fan: None other than Kurt Cobain.
  • Buffy Speak: From More Dead Than Alive
    I walked up to this psychological man, I said I got this problem about this coffin
  • Catch Phrase: Hi, how are you?
  • Careful With That Axe: in "Don't Play Cards With Satan",(1990 version) Daniel, shouts at the top of his lungs for 2 instances of the word "Satan" .
    I heard the voice of SATAN!!!! Crying in the woods...
  • Colbert Bump: Received one after Kurt Cobain wore the famous "Hi, How Are You" t-shirt to the VM As.
  • Creator Breakdown: Happens frequently. His most memorable one was a literal breakdown in 1990 where he caused his fathers plane to crash. Fortunately, both survived the crash only mildly injured.
    • His 1983 album Hi, how are you remained unfinished due to a mental breakdown.
  • Deconstruction: His entire oeuvre is about what it actually means to be a Woobie and a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: 1990 was released in 1990.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: He became extraordinarily influential on lo-fi music because of his Author Appeal.
  • Mad Artist: Sad real-life example. He has both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and has been in and out of mental institutions.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the album 1990, the previously mentioned Don't Play Cards With Satan ends with Daniel screaming "SATAN!!" at the top of his lungs. The next track is the happy and uplifting True Love Will Find You In The End
  • New Sound Album: Daniel's earlier albums mainly featured songs that were played on a piano. 1991's Artistic Vice did not feature any piano at all.
    • Most of his albums from 1979-88 (excluding 1985's Continued Story) were recorded on a cassette recorder, since his album 1990, his albums have been professionally produced in studios.
  • One of Us: Saying that Daniel really likes comic books and old horror films would be an understatement.
    • His initially exclusively home-recorded music made him a pioneer of bedroom pop.
  • Other Cities in Texas: Is strongly associated with the culture of Austin, Texas and has had a strong influence on its "Keep Austin Weird" movement. His "Hi, How Are You?" frog mural remains a landmark of the city.
  • Rockumentary: The Devil and Daniel Johnston.
  • Trope Maker: Of home-recorded indie music.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: On guitar, Daniel pretty much only plays very basic chords, and a lot of his guitar songs only use the G,C, and D chords.
  • The Tyson Zone: Falls into this as a there's a lot of stories of him escaping mental institutions and the like.
  • Verbal Tic: In interviews, Dan tends to say "you know" a lot.
  • Vocal Evolution: Dan's voice changed a lot over the years. In the early 80s, his singing voice was almost boyish (listen to this recording of "To Go Home" off 1982's The What of Whom, in which he sounds like a 12-year-old, he was 21 during the recording of the song.). By the late 90s, his voice had changed dramatically, probably due to chain smoking.
  • The Unintelligible: Daniel mumbles so much on the track Hot Water, from the 1979 tapes, that it seems like he isn't even singing in English.
Johnny HallidayMusiciansVan Morrison

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy