The king comes with an entourage. His court may consist of thousands of servants – social, personal, and political. These majesty’s members are often influenced, inspired, and inclined by their imperial, compelling king. One such music maker, Holy Moly Jones, has dedicated to doing a tribute to the man he dubs “The King of West Virginia” – Daniel Johnston.
For over 20 years Daniel Johnston has been candidly creative. An artist who aspired to create cartoons, Johnston soon segwayed into making music and cultivated his craft in the northern panhandle of West Virginia and in Texas, handing out homemade cassettes and incurring a cult following that catapulted when Kurt Cobain wore his t-shirt at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. Johnston has received both casual and critical acclaim, classifying him as an American original. His music was always paralleled by his mental conditions, and many documentaries have been done about his iconoclastic career. Although many artists have covered Johnston’s songs, one such member of King Daniel’s court, Holy Moly Jones, put out a musical tribute that consecrates and characterizes the king.
Holy Moly Jones started playing piano and guitar before getting into the glockenspiel, mandolin and other more un-mainstream, miscellaneous musical instruments. Founder of Outstrument, that he forayed from for fatherly purposes, Holy Moly Jones is a melting pot of music with indiscriminate influences. He decided to take a tangent from making his music to put out, in his own words, this “passion project.” Affording him an opportunity, “to explore another world. A frightening world and a breathtakingly beautiful world. Daniel’s world, my world, their world. Our world. ”
Holy Moly Jones says of Johnston, “I can’t think of another songwriter that writes so personally and develops such an intimate relationship with the listener. The curtains are open. He knows they’re open. But he doesn’t put on a front. He just lets you see him. Without shame. Without fear of ridicule. Like a monkey in a zoo. ” A project that was “done out of admiration and as a tribute with the purest intentions,” Holy Moly Jones has no idea what this endeavor will elicit. “If we share it enough maybe it will get back to Daniel…and he’ll either love it or hate it…or maybe sue me.”
In a king’s court there are many titles to be had, functions to fulfill. For instance, a standard – bearer is a person who conveys an ensign or emblem in honor of and homage to that which they serve. For some it’s a flag, some sort of symbol, an instantly recognizable, regal image. The music of Daniel Johnston has spurred several standard-bearers, one of which is Holy Moly Jones, who has honored his sovereign via songs. The King of West Virginia has a very noble court.