Daniel Johnston (photo by Amy Price) and Built to Spill (photo by David Brendan Hall)
Artists like Nick Cave and Eddie Vedder have paid homage to the late Daniel Johnston, who died in September, by covering his songs live in concert. Built to Spill are taking their tribute one step further by releasing a full album of Johnston cover songs.
Simply titled Built to Spill Plays the Songs of Daniel Johnston, the effort arrives via Ernest Jenning Record Co. on May 1st. All the recordings — which include takes on “Tell Me Now”, “Life in Vain”, and “Impossible Love” — are taken from rehearsal sessions Built to Spill held in 2017 while serving as the backing band on Johnston’s final tour.
“It was pretty special for us,” Built to Spill frontman Doug Martsch recounted to Rolling Stone. “Basically we wanted to get good documentation of what our rehearsals were like. It was a lot heavier than what I thought it would be.” According to the indie rock veterans, their covers album was actually entering the final stages of production last fall, right around the time of Johnston’s tragic passing.
The forthcoming tribute LP is up for pre-order now; a yellow vinyl edition of the record is also available for purchase, complete with a 32-page songbook. As an early preview, Built to Spill are sharing the opening track, their rendition of Johnston’s “Bloody Rainbow”. Stream i below alongside the original version.
Last month saw the vinyl-only release of a new Daniel Johnston live album called Chicago 2017. Due out through Wilco’s dBpm Records, it featured contributions from Tweedy (Jeff Tweedy and son Spencer). January also saw the Johnston-dedicated Hi, How Are You Day benefit concert take place in Austin.
Built to Spill last put out an album in 2015 with Untethered Moon.
Built to Spill Plays the Songs of Daniel Johnston Artwork:
Built to Spill Plays the Songs of Daniel Johnston Tracklist:
01. Bloody Rainbow
02. Tell Me Now
03. Honey I Sure Miss You
04. Good Morning You
05. Heart, Mind and Soul
06. Life in Vain
07. Mountain Top
08. Queenie the Dog
09. Impossible Love
10. Fake Records of Rock and Roll