Appearing for One Life Only

Some of Daniel Johnston’s drawings are included in the every-other-year show at the Whitney. What this has to do with the contemporary art scene, I’m not sure. Is Daniel Johnston meant to stand in for outsider art, for the cassette mythos of the ’80s, for the spirit of Amercian lo-fi diy? Let’s hope not, let’s hope not and please no, just stop.

“Portland” – The Legend! mp3

Still, Daniel Johnston has been a crucial reference point for many of us. Self-released cassettes, the rhymed confessional, an insistence on claiming a space for an admittedly unusual voice, taking those classic rock embedded memories and pulling them fully inside out.


All of which leads straight to “The Legend!” As Everett True, Jerry Thackray writes rambling shards of autobiography disguised as rock journalism. As The Legend! he makes recordings and appears on stages. Still, he’s less a musician than a walking provocation, inserting himself into the scenes he ostensibly reports on. As a performer he’s been charged with false-naivete, bravado, falsetto. Ivor Cutler without manners, Jad Fair with an expense-account.

Here’s “Portland,” a song recorded in Melbourne, while Jerry writes for newspapers and slums with David from the Cannanes. The boundaries get blurrier, as that self-referential rock journalism gets turned around into something approximating a song.

Cutting a record, typing something up for a deadline or just holding court at the pub, going on about your favorite songs, maybe it’s all the same soup, just, you know, in different bowls.

Really, appearing for one life only.

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