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Watch The National cover ‘Devil Town’ in tribute to Daniel Johnston - NME Live

20 September 2019

Beautiful.

Last night saw The National perform a cover of Daniel Johnston‘s ‘Devil In Me’ after news of the cult hero’s death broke.

The acclaimed lo-fi singer songwriter’s passing was announced by his family after he died of a heart attack on Tuesday September 10. He was 58-years-old.

In honour of the late, influential artist, The National delivered a rendition of the Johnston classic ‘Devil Town’ from his album ‘1990’ while performing ‘I Am Not In Kansas’ from 2019’s acclaimed ‘I Am Easy To Find‘. Guest vocals were provided by Kate Stables, Hannah Georgas  and Kyle Resnick.

“That was for Daniel Johnston,” Matt Berninger told the crowd in Houston, Texas after the song. “He loved us. We’re still here.”

Beck, Zola Jesus, Judd Apatow, Elijah Wood, The Mountain Goats and Jack Antonoff were among the many to pay tribute to Johnston.

“I always wanted Danny to feel like his own person, and in control of his own life.  Since beginning to work and travel with him in about 2003, we gratefully were able to travel the entire globe for over a decade to get out before the fans,” wrote his brother Dick Johnston. “He was always, everywhere, warmly received and he at least knew he was well loved. Health issues have plagued us for years, I’m glad for the time we had.”

Tom Gimbel, Daniel’s manager for over 25 years, added: “I am so saddened by the news of Daniel’s passing.  It has been the greatest honor and privilege of my professional life to work with Daniel Johnston – someone who I consider to be one of the greatest songwriting geniuses of our time. In our time together Daniel was more than an artist; he was a friend, he was family. I will miss him greatly but will smile every time I hear his songs.”

Johnston lived his life with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He announced his retirement from live music back in 2017, blaming health issues. Watch footage from his penultimate live show here.

Meanwhile, The National return to the UK for an arena tour in December.


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