Song of the Week: “Spirit World Rising” by Daniel Johnston

by Douglas Cowie on 27 September 2019

Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Spirit World Rising” by Daniel Johnston:

Earlier this month, the wonderful and unique songwriter and performer Daniel Johnston died. It’s hard to say much more about the passing of someone who made such fragile, beautiful, sad, uplifting music than it’s sad, because it’s sad. Last week I was reading Original Rockers by Richard King, which is a thoughtful and lyrical memoir of the author’s time working at Revolver record shop in Bristol, though in fact, the book is much more than that brief description implies. In any case, the book ends–spoiler alert–thus:

From a recess in my mind that this journey to Revolver had unlocked I heard the opening chords of a song, ‘The Spirit World Rising’ by Daniel Johnston, which I had played incessantly within these four walls so many years before. At that moment I felt that the spirit world had risen in a ghost dance and we were moving together, in time.

Songs and books mark moments in time, but they also move with us, change shape with us, reshape us and our moments in time, as we go, with them.

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