“I’m full-bore bat-shit crazy with regards to Soul Coughing. If somebody says they love Soul Coughing, I hear fuck you. Somebody yells out for a Soul Coughing song during a show, it means fuck you. If I play a Soul Coughing song, and somebody whoops – just one guy – I hear fuck you.”
Mike Doughty says this about his former band about three quarters of the way through his memoir, The Book Of Drugs, which I read in two sittings on New Year’s Eve, and highly recommend. I felt it a necessary rite of passage before I could present this Antiquiet Session. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d even be able to explain why it exists.
Johnny and I are both children of 80s, weird teenagers of the 90s, and we were and remain, factually speaking, Soul Coughing fans. But I haven’t been comfortable flying that flag, knowing at least enough about Mike Doughty to know it hasn’t ever been his favorite subject. We’ve respected that.
And then, he started playing Soul Coughing songs again. And I somehow had the nerve to reach out, to see if he’d play some Soul Coughing songs for us. When he agreed, I felt I had somehow cheated someone, somewhere. And as we rode together towards Swing House in the back of a black Prius, I (perhaps awkwardly) tried to express how sort-of-wrong it felt to be doing something I had dreamt of doing, but had abstained from attempting out of respect.
But I had fallen in love with Soul Coughing songs all over again. Not as performed by Mike and the three other guys referred to only by job title in his book. But the songs performed by Mike alone, if not as he heard them back then, then at least as he hears them now. These versions are more pure, more honest. And they’re a testament to Mike’s vision and talent as a songwriter, who didn’t need the gimmicks and other molestations of various intent that ultimately suffocated Soul Coughing.
Doughty didn’t need to “reclaim” these songs for his own sake; Reading his memoir, it’s clear that he recognizes that they were always his children, despite the painful passage where he details his capitulation to give all members of the band equal songwriting credit. So it would be trite and patronizing to frame this as some sort of artistic vengeance, or Stella getting her groove back. But it’s a beautiful event that allows us to finally fit all of the pieces into place as fans, and reconcile our love of Soul Coughing with our respect for Mike Doughty. Here’s Mike, performing Soul Coughing songs on his terms. They’re more powerful than ever in this natural, stripped down state, and even though Mike never seemed to think too highly of his musicianship, he’s developed a crazy unique guitar technique over the years, that I’ve been trying and failing to reverse engineer.
In other words, we’re very proud to bring you this, Antiquiet Session #10:
Super Bon Bon
True Dreams Of Wichita
St. Louise Is Listening
Mike has released two albums full of Soul Coughing songs re-imagined. The first is readily available on iTunes & Spotify, and it’s entitled Circles Super Bon Bon Sleepless How Many Cans? True Dreams of Wichita Monster Man Mr. Bitterness Maybe I’ll Come Down St. Louise Is Listening I Miss the Girl Unmarked Helicopters The Idiot Kings So Far I Have Not Found the Science. The tracklist is the title, as you may have guessed. There’s also a version on Spotify with commentary.
The second is called Water & Washington, and it’s all stripped-down acoustic songs, with some really awesome gems, such as 16 Horses, an odd song from a movie soundtrack that’s always been one of our favorite Soul Coughing jams. You can get that one only by supporting the project through Mike’s Pledge Music campaign. In doing so, you’ll also get access to a bunch of homemade videos of Mike performing these covers, which largely inspired us to do this unique session.
Mike also has a bunch of solo albums that he’s released over the years. Most recently is 2012’s The Flip Is Another Honey. These are definitely worth checking out if you’ve lost track of Mr. Doughty since his Soul Coughing days. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping tabs on all things Doughty, and you can too via mikedoughty.com.