Daniel Johnston and Jad Fair's 'It's Spooky' Gets Reissue - Rolling Stone
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Daniel Johnston and Jad Fair’s ‘It’s Spooky’ Gets Reissue, ‘Ashes on the Ground’ Out Now

Duo’s collaboration will be reissued as a double LP

Daniel Johnston and Jad Fair’s 1989 collaboration It’s Spooky will be reissued for its 30th anniversary, out April 10th via Joyful Noise Recordings. The track “Ashes on the Ground” is out now.

Fair, vocalist and guitarist of the punk band Half Japanese, first began corresponding with Johnston in the late Eighties. They finally met in person in New York in 1989. “I was doing some recording with Mo Tucker [of the Velvet Underground],” Fair recalls. “Daniel was in town, staying with Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth. Daniel and I became friends and I invited him to my home in Maryland to record the album.”

The record was completed in a single week. “It was very intense,” Fair says. “Daniel was so full of ideas and it was hard to keep up with them. Trying to do new songs with Daniel in two or three takes was a lot to keep on top of. But I was really pleased with the end result.”



“Ashes on the Ground” was written by David, Fair’s brother and Half Japanese bandmate. He can be heard playing drums on the duo’s stripped-down recording. “Our passion only spread the flames/And burned until our love became/Ashes on the ground,” they chant. Five years later, Yo La Tengo would cover the song on their 1994 EP From a Motel 6.

“A series of emails to Jad Kramer, and Joyful Noise Recordings followed, where I lobbied for the inclusion of ‘Ashes on the Ground,’ Jeff Feuerzeig, director of The Devil & Daniel Johnston, writes in the album’s liner notes. “We wanted to reunite this overlooked, lost gem with the other great triumphs of the session.”

It’s Spooky will be released as a double LP, which was how it was initially intended. “Originally, that’s what Daniel and I were wanting, to have it released as a double,” Fair says. “It just was difficult for us to do at that time.” The album was remastered by noted producer Kramer, known for his work with Butthole Surfers, Ween, Urge Overkill and more. It will be pressed on limited-edition Casper White vinyl, which includes a bonus disc of Johnston’s “I Live My Broken Dreams.”

The reissue was slated to be released in October 2019 but was pushed back after Johnston died in September at the age of 58. “I pretty much expected it, because I knew Daniel was in very bad health,” Fair says. “But it hit me quite hard.”

“I can think of so many excellent musicians, but as far as lyricists go, that’s a whole different game,” he continues. “Very few lyricists I really think are up to the same standard that Daniel is up to. He was just amazing.”

It’s Spooky Tracklist

1. It’s Spooky
2. Summertime
3. I Met Roky Erickson
4. Happy Talk
5. McDonalds on the Brain
6. I Did Acid With Caroline
7. If I’d Only Known
8. Tongues Wag in This Town
9. Tomorrow Never Knows
10. Oh Honey
11. A Vow of Love
12. When Love Calls
13. Frankenstein Vs. the World
14. Hands of Love
15. Kicking the Dog
16. What I’ve Seen
17. Something’s Got a Hold on Me
18. Villain
19. Chords of Fame
20. Ostrich
21. Casper the Friendly Ghost
22. First Day at Work
23. Fun And Games
24. Nothing Left
25. Memphis Tennessee
26. Come Back
27. Tears Stupid Tears
28. The Making of the Album
29. Get Yourself Together
30. What the World Needs Now
31. Sweet Loafed
32. Ashes on the Ground

In This Article: Daniel Johnston


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