i just finished reading the book of drugs by mike doughty and i probably should take a minute to let it soak in, but i feel so…conflicted.
let me start by saying that i’m a huge mike doughty fan. not just soul coughing (but DEFINITELY SOUL COUGHING; that’s one of my all time favorite bands) - i’m a fan of mike doughty himself, his writing, his music, his glasses, his constant internet presence, his voice, his round head. i like him a lot, so i was kind of excited about this book.
many months ago, on the twitter, doughty expressed his annoyance with people asking him about soul coughing. he kept saying how that band is dead to him. when pressed, because twitter will always press you, he said the book will explain everything.
and it does..? in it we read about one michael doughty, the son of an uptight drunk military man and a stressed out, constantly venting woman. he spent some years in an unorthodox college, worked the door of a world renowned music dive, and stumbled upon three musicians who were able to release the sounds from inside his head. sadly, these three musicians also did a number on our young doughty, making him feel as if his talents were negligible. after years of the emotional abuse, doughty snapped and ended the band.
he did all of this while being fucked up. SEVERELY fucked up. he was a junkie. a big ol’ drug-using junkie.
it wasn’t a surprise to me; i had heard the rumors, but i didn’t realize the extent of his drug use. and it makes it harder for me to…well, to feel for him, to be honest. i’m usually very empathetic; i was prepared to read his story and cheer him on. however, the voice inside my head kept yelling, “you are a fucking junkie.”
and to my eye, a junkie for no good reason. i’m not dismissing the family dynamics or the possible mental health issues. i’m just saying that people make it through every day with the same basic background and they manage to do it without sniffing black tar heroin. having a band who doesn’t like you doesn’t make you some sort of delicate flower who needs weed & coke & full bottles of jack daniels to survive.
doughty has cleaned up now, something else he discusses in the book. he also takes a moment to tell all of the former soul coughing fans that every time they (we?) ask him about SC, they (we?) are essentially saying “fuck you” to him. oh, word? well, let me take a moment to say it directly:
fuck you, m. doughty. fuck you for trying to make me feel like shit for enjoying your music. and again, i’m not just a SC fan - i saw you on your post-SC, sweaty skittish tour (atlanta and athens), bought the cd directly from you. i have your solo records, even the ones that sound a bit too adult contemporary for my tastes. i’ve allowed your voice to be hard-wired into the happy section of my brain. i will probably continue to be a fan; i still follow you on twitter & tumblr and i’ll look you up on whatever the next revolutionary internet thingamajig will be. i hope that you continue with the recovery & healing process and that you get to the point that you no longer hear “fuck you” when you encounter a SC fan, but that you recognize that your work and your talent - something YOU MADE - has touched another person’s soul in a way that they felt compelled to share with you.
(is this me dealing with doughty falling from grace in my eyes? perhaps. i’m not in the habit of putting people on pedestals; i rarely talk to musicians after a show because i figure they just got off work. but the feelings that this book stirred up made me realize that i held him in high regard.)
at any rate, doughty’s writing is wry, clean & concise. his flow is engaging enough that you don’t even miss the chapter designation. and if you like tales of rock star debauchery, then this should do the trick. i hope you’re able to enjoy it without all of the weird soul searching & changes in perspective that i’m going through.