Each of us who has found comfort or a moment of recognition in Johnston's lyrics has probably felt a tinge of what might be deemed mental illness.
With a distinctive quavering voice, Johnston sings tormented lyrics about universal themes unrequited love and not giving up on your dreams over ebullient and charming pop melodies. His music possesses a combination of craft and sincerity that appeals to the most basic human emotions. He is an oddball phenomenon whose biography provides clues to how the creative mind works. Amid all the chaos and the pain, Johnston continues on with and without drugs, and definitely with the assistance of his family. His music, art, and life reflect a dichotomy between good vs. evil, hope vs. despair, and genius vs. madman. In the end, as captured in his most recent release Is and Always Was (High Wire), the good wins.
Thurs/22, 8 p.m., $22.50$25
1290 Sutter, SF