Continued Story/Hi How Are You

If you buy only one CD by a former mental patient, make it Continued Story. Texas cult figure and certifiable oddball Johnston has written hundreds of songs and released them on homemade tapes; this collection, compiling cassettes recorded in 1983 and ’85, marks the first time any of them have made it onto CD. But even with digital technology, they remain some of the creepiest recordings you’ll ever hear. Singing like a teenage Neil Young on a very bad acid trip, Johnston flails at his chord organ or guitar, sings about looking forward to relaxing (for good) in a funeral home, recites childlike poetry, serenades tap water, and plays a rudimentary version of the Beatles’ ”I Saw Her Standing There” with an accompaniment that sounds as if he just learned to play the piano. His performances are crude, pathetic, scary, and touching, sometimes all at once. Johnston is most definitely an acquired taste, but when he sings lines like ”You make me feel better by just being my friend” in his vulnerable quiver, he’s more than just an oddity. He’s the insecure, inarticulate screwball lurking within us all. B+

Continued Story/Hi How Are You
  • Music