Hi, How Are You: The Unfinished Album is the sixth self-released music cassette album by singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston, recorded in September 1983. The subtitle refers to the length of the album; Johnston had intended for it to be an hour-long release,[2] as a majority of his earlier releases were.

Hi, How Are You
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 1983
RecordedSeptember 1983
ProducerDaniel Johnston
Daniel Johnston chronology
Yip/Jump Music
Hi, How Are You
Retired Boxer
Professional ratings
Review scores

Background edit

Recording edit

On September 1, 1983, Daniel Johnston was evicted from his brother Dick's home in Houston, Texas. Daniel had been living with Dick throughout the summer and recorded his previous album Yip/Jump Music in the garage. Following his eviction, Margie Johnston, his sister, let Daniel live with her in her San Marcos home, where he worked in pizza delivery.[3] Margie didn't have any extra furniture for Daniel, so they bought a mattress which was placed on a floor for him to sleep on. Margie notes that Daniel thrived in this environment because he was allowed to make a mess.[4]

The backing music to the song "Desperate Man Blues" comes from a song by Johnny Dankworth titled "Desperate Dan" from the album England's Ambassador of Jazz, which Johnston owned. The track resonated heavily with Johnston, leading to its inclusion on the album.[4]

The album is one of the most sonically varied of Johnston's early output. While earlier records found him focusing on piano or chord organ songs almost exclusively, this album blends both approaches along with experiments in tape and noise collage, and some tentative playing on a stringed instrument, referred to as a guitar, a toy guitar, or a ukulele.[5]

Artwork/title edit

The album's artwork is a sketch of "Jeremiah the Frog of Innosense" (sic),[6] a character created by Johnston inspired by an old rubber stamp box he discovered while working at AstroWorld that previous summer. The box featured a picture of a frog along with the text "Hi, How Are You?". Johnston became inspired by the phrase and remembered that he had previously used it in his song "Grievances", from Songs of Pain.

And I saw you at the funeral, you were standing there like a temple
I said, "Hi, how are you? Hello"
And I pulled up a casket and crawled in

Since he had already called back to "Grievances" countless times throughout his previous tapes, he felt it was only appropriate to continue to use the phrase as yet another call-back. "Jeremiah", the frog's name, was taken from the song "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night, which opens with the lyric, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog."[7]

Promotion edit

Daniel would promote the album through handing out copies to people he met. One individual given a copy of the album was Kathy McCarty, who said that "That weird kid is probably the only genius I've met in my life!"[8]

This was the first Daniel Johnston album to be given a widely distributed release as a vinyl LP; it was released on Homestead Records in 1988.[9]

Legacy edit

A mural that Johnston was commissioned to paint in 1993 for a now-closed record store. Though the property has changed hands multiple times, its various owners have committed to preserving the mural.[10] In April 2023, the building was torn down, but the mural was saved.[11]

In 1988, when the album was pressed on LP by Homestead Records, Mark Lerario for the Reading Eagle said that it sounded like "A basement tape haphazardly put together by deaf hippies."[12]

The song "Big Business Monkey" appeared in the soundtrack of the 1990 film Slacker.[13]

By 1992[14] Kurt Cobain began wearing a T-shirt of the album's cover, launching Johnston into mainstream popularity.[15][16] Two years later, in 1994, Kathy McCarty released her Johnston tribute album, which featured five tracks from Hi How Are You.[17]

In 2006, Ty Burr Globe for the Record-Journal described "Walking the Cow" as "demented and heartbreakingly fragile".[18]

In 2009, the song "Desperate Man Blues" was included in the play Punk Rock.

A 2015 documentary about Johnston, titled Hi, How Are You Daniel Johnston?, was named after the record.

In 2018, the Mayor of Austin, Texas, declared January 22 (Johnston's birthday) to be "Hi, How Are You Day", a day dedicated to mental health awareness funded by the non-profit organisation of the same name.[19]

In 2019, American post-disco duo De Lux released a cover of "Get Yourself Together".[20]

On April 9, 2021, the Johnston estate announced an NFT based on the album's cover.[21]

Track listing edit

All tracks are written by Daniel Johnston. All tracks produced by Johnston

Side one
1."Poor You"2:03
2."Big Business Monkey"2:02
3."Walking the Cow"3:34
4."I Picture Myself with a Guitar"0:45
5."Despair Came Knocking"2:44
6."I Am a Baby (In My Universe)"1:37
7."Nervous Love"0:18
8."I'll Never Marry"0:21
9."Get Yourself Together"0:32
10."Running Water"1:32
Total length:15:28
Side two
11."Desperate Man Blues"3:40
12."Hey Joe"2:44
13."She Called Pest Control"0:53
14."Keep Punching Joe"3:11
15."No More Pushing Joe Around"4:42
Total length:15:10

Release history edit

Year Label Format Region Notes
1983 Self Released Cassette USA
1986 Stress Records
1988 Homestead Records
LP / Cassette
1991 CD Bonus tracks on Continued Story CD issue
2006 Eternal Yip Eye Music / High Wire Music
2007 Eternal Yip Eye Music LP
2009 CD USA/Europe Bonus tracks on Continued Story CD issue
2010 Eye Music Cassette USA
2011 Eternal Yip Eye Music Memory Stick
2012 Eye Music Cassette
2017 Eternal Yip Eye Music
2018 Feraltone LP 3xLP box set containing Hi How Are You and Yip/Jump Music
2019 Eternal Yip Eye Music Cassette

References edit

  1. ^ a b Hi, How Are You at AllMusic
  2. ^ "My Dinner with Daniel" – Daniel Johnston documentary by David Fair 1988, archived from the original on December 21, 2021, retrieved October 20, 2021
  3. ^ "Enchanting, enigmatic, enduring: RIP Daniel Johnston – The Miscellany News". Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Feuerzeig, Jeff (director) (January 2005). The Devil and Daniel Johnston (Motion picture).
  5. ^ Encarnacao, John (April 15, 2016). Punk Aesthetics and New Folk: Way Down the Old Plank Road. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-07320-8.
  6. ^ Daniel Johnston's Symbolic Visions
  7. ^ Yazdani, Tarssa; Goede, Don (2006). Hi, how are You?: The Life, Art & Music of Daniel Johnston. Last Gasp. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-86719-667-2.
  8. ^ The Free Lance-Star. The Free Lance-Star.
  9. ^ Robbins, Ira. "Daniel Johnston". Trouser Press. Retrieved July 15, 2023.
  10. ^ "'Hi, How Are You' Mural". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  11. ^ "Building torn down, 'Hi, How Are You' mural stays up". April 17, 2023.
  12. ^ Reading Eagle. Reading Eagle.
  13. ^ "Daniel Johnston". IMDb. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
  14. ^ "At Sacai, a Subtle Nod to Kurt Cobain". Vogue. October 3, 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  15. ^ "How Kurt Cobain launched Daniel Johnston with a T-shirt". September 11, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  16. ^ "50 Artists Who Inspired Kurt Cobain". NPR.org. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  17. ^ Kathy McCarty - Dead Dog's Eyeball (Songs Of Daniel Johnston) (Bar/None Records, AHAON042-2, 1994)
  18. ^ Record-Journal. Record-Journal.
  19. ^ Hallock 0, Jeremy (July 1, 2021). "Daniel Johnston's Drawings Are as Wildly Inventive as His Music". Texas Monthly. Retrieved September 26, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ "Get Yourself Together, by De Lux". De Lux. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  21. ^ "Auction: Spirit of Daniel Johnston honored in new 'Hi, How Are You' NFT". austonia. April 9, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.