Beloved avant songwriter Daniel Johnston passed away earlier this week, sparking an outpouring of tributes from artists across the spectrum. Last night, The National paid their own homage to the late musician when they interpolated his song “Devil Town” into their own “Not in Kansas”.
The National were performing at White Oak Music Hall in Houston, just about two-and-a-half hours east of where Johnston established his early career in Austin, Texas. The band opened the encore with the soft I Am Easy to Find track, but as Matt Berninger finished the second iteration of the chorus, the backing singers went into “Devil Town”. Kate Stables, Hannah Georgas, and Kyle Resnick harmonized on a gentle rendition of the song’s opening verse, with the band taking a meaningful pause before returning to “Not in Kansas”.
“That was for Daniel Johnston, who left us,” said Berninger. “We’re still here. We got this.”
Watch the performance below (via Variety). The National still have a few North American shows — including an appearance at New Orleans’ Voodoo Music Experience — before they head off to tour Europe in November. Get tickets to all their gigs here.