Review Summary: This minimalist masterpiece is a roller coaster of hope, loss and ultimately the unknown. Hands down the greatest singer songwriter record to ever be recorded.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
1990 is a masterpiece, short and simple. Daniel Johnston in 1989 was a mess, highly schizophrenic and a manic depressive, normally on acid and highly religious. He truly believed that everyone one around him was a devil and wanted the worst for him. Because of this, 1990 is a very sporadic and raw record that jumps from live recording to home recording and a few studio recordings here and there (no time to get to the studio when your running from the devils). but also because of his condition at the time you get one of the most emotionally engaging and real records ever created.
"Devil Town" - The album opens with a spoken word piece or poem (much like "Hi, How Are You did) which chronicles what its like for Daniel being in a town full of demons or "vampires" and how he feels betrayed by his friends or people he thought loved him, he even finds himself to be a sinner in this "devil town". This track with its slight reverb on the vocals flow perfectly into the next track..
"Spirit World Rising" - Is another religious fueled track talking about how Satan is running the people of Austin, Tx and how there will be a new Jerusalem in the sky brought by the number 7 (#7 being the Jesus number, #6 being the devil and #9 being the human number according to Daniel). thanks to the slow building guitars and aggressive drums popping in and out this whole track builds so beautifully you honestly feel for Daniel even though you probably will never understand what hes talking about.
"Held The Hand" - Once again about the devil and how the sins have changed people he knows (Oh Laura, what has happened to you?, held the hand of Devil). He even talks about his own fame that he found after being on MTV in austin and how he believes it molded him into someone he maybe doesn't like anymore. just another emotion filled track that grips you even though its a very short one minute and 42 seconds.
"Lord, Give Me Hope" - following the blue print of the song spirit world rising (but this time Daniel is on keys where he is a much better player) this track builds and falls and builds and falls but unlike that 2nd track its a much more personal experience. Its Daniel basically questioning god about why things are so hard for him and asking for the strength to continue, and hes singing about things that hes scared of and not being able to get to heaven or being strong enough to continue down this metaphorical "Road". its a magnificent listless, slow growing and sad track full of hope to be a better person.
"Some Things Last a Long Time" - This song i a complete minimalist masterpiece. everyone can feel this song and ber moved by whats being said. Its also so well produced with flickering sounds in the background and just a spacious canvas for Daniels fantastic lyrics to be on. If you ignore the album all i can say is to listen to this track at least, it has been covered by hundreds of bands and for good reason.
"Tears Stupid Tears" - Daniels back with his beat up nylon stringed guitar, and he seems to be pessimistic this time and angry about the time hes wasting and crying over this illness. he talks about lost love and things that hurt him and that its all a waste to cry over these things. Its a song about living your life no matter what holds you back and it tells you this so soothingly and hypnotically in a way that completely sticks with you.
"Don't Play Cards With Satan" - this track is a haunting one with Daniel yelling at you at the top of his lungs the name SATAN SATAN SATAN!!, he is trying to warn you about sin and how the devil cheats all of mankind. He also talks about his own mistakes and sins and there are even versions of this track where Daniel is crying. You can hear that he is sorry for whatever it is he has done and you really feel for him.
"True Love Will Find You in The End" - This hopeful song tells you that if its true love it will stay with you forever and there's no need to be sad over whats lost , because it just meant it wasn't true. Daniel tells you to search for your true love because they are searching for you all the time. This song is just so beautiful its one that needs to be heard by all
"Don't be sad i know you will, But don't give up until true love will find you in the end"
"Got to Get You in to my Life" - a very dissonant take on the classic Beatles song from "Revolver" that makes the track much more personal and real. He wants this person so badly and he wants them to know that they will be together every day. It takes that fun sweet Beatles song and twists it into a dark track where Dan begs this person to be there for him, and turns "Got to get you into my life" into "i Need to get you into my life".
"Careless Soul" - or better known as the song Dan cried in on record. Yet again its a spoken word and a religious hymn that seemed to strike a chord in Dan and for some reason with his powerful and gorgeous delivery it moved me as well bringing me almost to tears along with Daniel. One of the most passionate and brave recordings ive ever been touched by.
"Funeral Home" - A chilling song that talks of going to a funeral home and dieing. Its a sweet folky take on a experience we will all have to go through alone. He even gets the Audience to join in and sing this very morbid song as if they where by a campfire.
"Softly and Tenderly" - a religious hymn recorded at church that brings this beautiful masterpiece to a close so perfectly. its just so sweet right after that group of gloomy tracks that reminds you, yes we all die and yes life is painful adn we lose love but if you are like Dan you believe Jesus is watching over you softly and tenderly.
Me not being religious one bit took so much out of this record. it took real bravery to record such personal material and deliver it so thoroughly , its truly the most moving experience ive ever had listening to a record i thoroughly enjoy listening to this masterpiece.