Thursday, 8 September 2016
Oliver: Daniel Johnston - Happy Soul (22 February 1992)
Happy Soul is one of those tracks that turn up on the Peel Show and make me wish that I had known of it back in early 1992 - when I really needed it and when I could have used it as a manifesto for living. With characteristic poetic inarticulacy, Daniel Johnston sums me up in this track, one month before my 16th birthday. I was aware of a change in my mindset and how I looked at the world - I've already mentioned more than enough times that I was turning on to girls and how happy that made me feel - but it was more than that. I felt, as I got closer to 16, a great feeling of contentment. I wasn't a stroppy, moody or tormented teen. I saw possibilities in life, even though I couldn't articulate them. In retrospect, I was probably just beginning to savour the fact that I had reached the first of the age landmarks in which there were things I could do if I wanted to, and no-one could tell me that I wasn't allowed. The fact that there were other age limits still to pass meant I was in a cushioned holding pen - moving away from childhood, or being regarded as a child, but not quite into adulthood, or being expected to act like one. It felt like the best of all worlds, and it would only get better over the next couple of years. I had that Happy Soul, Johnston was singing about. Hell, I even started writing songs - well, lyrics in 1992. Unheard (and rightfully so) epics like Parking Lot Lovemaking (No, I don't know Ricky Gervais).
Girls, rock 'n' roll and a changing mindset that felt gently exciting and different from what had gone before. I relished them - well, the girls took their time to turn up - and Johnston knew we would. In short, this is one of the great, under-rated teen anthems in rock history.
Video courtesy of jameshunter93.