Chicagoland singer-songwriter and composer Daniel Knox has been busy this year, even without the outlet of touring. He hasn’t played an in-person concert since a date at Union Hall in Brooklyn in early March—a subsequent spring tour supporting formerly Chicagoan duo the Handsome Family in Scandinavia and the UK was postponed due to COVID-19 (and has been rescheduled for spring 2021, fingers crossed). In February Knox released the tribute album Half Heart: Songs From Twin Peaks through his own H.P. Johnson Presents label, and in July he provided an approximate thematic opposite to its interpretations of the unsettling soundtrack of David Lynch’s epic television experiment: an homage to the songs that Mister Rogers created for his longtime children’s show entitled You Are My Friend: The Songs of Mister Rogers. It arrived as a gift for those of us searching for a bit of solace this summer, and Leor Galil reviewed it for the Reader at the time.
Knox continues to be an active Instagrammer, walking at night and capturing moments of stillness or desolation (as Tal Rosenberg noted in a 2015 Reader feature story). His followers sometimes get lucky and catch him posting an impromptu live concert to his stories, turning on the camera as he works in his practice space. I saw one myself earlier this month during a bout of insomnia: I consulted my cellular phone entertainment device early one morning and found Knox doing a version of his new single, “Fall Apart,” and practicing various piano runs, stopping now and again to chat with some of the fans saying hello in the comments. It was sweet.
“Fall Apart” will appear on yet another new Knox album, Won’t You Take Me With You, which is due via H.P. Johnson in January. On the surface, “Fall Apart” sounds like a gut-wrenching breakup ballad: “I’m going to show up in a dream / You’re going to have a hard time letting go,” he sings, accompanied by the mournful cello of guest Nora Barton. But it also carries a deeper message about the changing nature of places like Chicago. It’s the song to have in mind while wandering around a city that’s undoing itself rapidly, despite our best efforts. v
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