As Stereogum notes, Van Etten recorded the cover, plus an original song, for the 2020 documentary, Feels Good Man, about the creator of Pepe the Frog. (It’s unclear if this had any bearing on Van Etten’s song choice, but Johnston designed a cartoon frog of his own, “Jeremiah the Innocent,” who appears on the famous Hi, How Are You? mural in Austin; Jeremiah, however, has not been adopted as a favored meme of the alt-right.)
On her cover, Van Etten leans into the slow-burning nature of “Some Things Last a Long Time,” using rumbling drums to anchor heavy swells of synths and guitars that move beneath her serene vocals: “Your picture is still/On my wall, on my wall/I think about you/Often, often.”
“Some Things Last a Long Time” is one of Johnston’s most well-known songs and has been frequently covered over the years. Built to Spill released a version on their 1994 compilation, The Normal Years, while Beach House covered it on their 2008 record, Devotion. More recently, Lana Del Rey recorded a version in 2015 for a short film about Johnston, “Hi, How Are You Daniel Johnston?”
As for Van Etten, earlier this month she celebrated the 10th anniversary of her 2010 album Epic with a reissue that featured a bonus album, Epic Ten, in which a variety of artists covered songs on the original album. Contributors included Fiona Apple, Lucinda Williams, Courtney Barnett, Vagabon and Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner’s Big Red Machine.