The Mental Health Advocate And Daniel Johnston (Part 4)

Back on Part 2, I was describing my first listening experience with Daniel’s 2nd album “Don’t Be Scared” which he recorded in his parents’ basement in July 1982. I mentioned a track toward the middle of the album called “And You Love It” and how it has a profound effect on me. Well now I am going to explain why it does and what it’s about.

“And You Love It” is not a song. It is an interlude or “skit” except Dan does play a piano instrumental through most of it. The interlude is his mother from what is said to be upstairs right outside the basement with the door open…screaming at Daniel. And yes. At the time Daniel is recording her, it is supposedly real what she is saying. Not staged. And she has no idea she is being recorded, at least at the time. These are some of the things she yells at him…

“We have produced a lazy LAZY BUM!…And you have no shame. You LIKE it that way.”

“You’re an unprofitable servant!!….You refuse to contribute to God while we are working hard for our earnings”

“And you’re PROUD of it!…..(silence break while Daniel is still playing a haunting piece on the piano and then her voice returns)……..I will tell you one thing. I am not proud of it! I am ASHAMED of it!”

Bottom line, to put it in context, Daniel’s parents whom he still lives with to this day for the most part, are extremely religious evangelicals. It is suggested by a fan on YouTube in the comments of this track being shared (and he’s probably right) that she is scolding Dan because he will not donate money (which he probably made at whatever job he had at the time; AstroWorld possibly) in the collection plate at church. While as he would get older and his religious upbringing would take it’s toll on his mental health resulting in his obsession with Satan, he was still young and mentally healthy ENOUGH to rebel against this conservative lifestyle.

Anyway, the profound part of this skit for me has nothing to do with that. It has to do with my initial reaction to it. When I heard it the first time and when I still hear it today, I seriously am terrified. Not at the yelling, not at the very eerie music Daniel is playing over her voice while she tries her best to shout over it. No. What terrifies me about it is how something about it sets me back to KIDS recordings I would listen to as early as preschool that scared the shit out of me. And I do not mean that as an exaggeration. So many harmless things that were very unlike “And You Love It” that no other kid or human being would freak out at, I would freak out at. One example of this is the Rabbit Ears’ kids audio-storybook series. All of which are read/narrated by a celebrity. Two of these recordings had brief moments that scared the shit out of me where I had to fast forward the cassette before that moment would occur or even avoid the entire side of the cassette all together. One of these two examples is the late, great Robin Williams narrating in his wacky, animated style of the Russian folktale, The Fool And The Flying Ship. There is a part toward the end where he does a voice of the Sharp-Shooter character “objecting strongly” to “The Fool”‘s suggestion about something by shouting..”No. Nononononononono!!!! NO!” I have no idea why, as it was just meant to be funny, but all I could see when I first heard it at age 4, was me walking to my parents’ bedroom late at night while the lights were still on and my dad yelling “Nonononono!!!” at me when he saw me. I know. Weird. But that was how my mind worked. And maybe it was due to my autism. Because I know I had yet to experience the things in my life that would result in me having mental health issues. Bottom line, something about that haunting skit reminded me of certain tapes I listened to as a kid and their personally scary moments. I even had a scenario in my head recently that I was given the “Don’t Be Scared” cassette as a little kid shortly after it was commercially released. And the whole recording, not just “And You Love It”, emotionally scarred me for life. Because throughout the very early part of my childhood, practically everything I played sounded like what this album sounds like to me today. If that makes any sense. (to be con’d)





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