Sunday, July 23, 2023

True love will find you in the end

Not long after we started doing our radio show, Music Therapy, I stumbled across a mesmerising and powerful song called True Love Will Find You In the End by Headless Heroes. 

I heard it on the soundtrack of the head-stretching BBC documentary series Can’t Get You Out of My Head by the film-maker Adam Curtis.

Headless Heroes are a collective of musicians who came together to record a number of cover versions, most notably featuring blossoming vocalist Alela Diane. 

The structure of the song is simple. 

The message of the lyrics a very obvious plea to someone in absolute despair to just hang on in there.

True love will find you in the end

You’ll find out just who was your friend

Don’t be sad, I know you will

But don’t give up until

True love will find you in the end

This is a promise with a catch

Only if you’re looking can it find you

‘Cause true love is searching too

But how can it recognise you

If you don’t step out into the light, the light

Don’t be sad I know you will

Don’t give up until

True love will find you in the end

It immediately felt like a song that was right for our Sunday evening show, Music Therapy. 

A simple song that folds neatly into our message that music can bring people together, make you feel a bit better and that by sharing thoughts, feeling, and ideas, we can look after each other.

It wasn’t until after that version of the song had lodged as a semi-permanent earworm that I started to discover more about its origin.

It was initially written and recorded by Daniel Johnston, an artist, and musician based in Texas who had a massive influence and touched an entire generation.

He died in 2019 from natural causes but had battled with his own fragile mental health all of his life. 

He was a cult figure in the alternative music scene in Austin, even though his pinched, high tenor vocals made it unlikely that he’d ever be a major star, his following flocked to the sincere raw power of songs like Life In Vain and True Love Will Find You In The End.

As well as his music, Daniel was also an artist of sorts and a doodle of a frog he produced in 1983, entitled Hi, How Are You? has become an emblem for a campaign in his memory - - and its location on a mural in Austin has become a shrine to him.

Its simple message is a call to check in with people and let them know you care about them when you know they are in trouble, and inviting supporters to pledge to do that. 

I’ve also discovered there are literally hundreds of versions of the song. 

We’ve shared a few of them with listeners to our show as the opener to the mellower second half of the show at 10pm and will continue to do so as long as we keep finding versions that do Daniel’s memory justice.

Neil declared his love for a version by American singer and songwriter Beck, which was recorded in 2004. 

I still don’t think the Headless Heroes version has been topped, but all the interpretations we’ve played have brought something new to what feels like a rising chorus of voices to do what we ask you all to do, as times get tough, to look after each other out there. 

You can listen to Michael Taylor and Neil Summers on Music Therapy on Tameside Radio 103.6FM on Sunday evenings from 9pm to 11pm. Click here to subscribe and catch up on previous shows.

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