Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Are You Not Entertained?!

Two tunes to irrefutably prove why everyone should like Soul Coughing as much as I do

Monday I got tickets to the Soul Coughing concert in Los Angeles (I live in Los Angeles, but I am not going to Reseda). It’s part of a tour that, as the site’s tag line says, the band said would never happen. Mike Doughty even wrote a book about it.1I haven’t read the book (yet), but from what I’ve heard it sounded like he was completely done with the band for good.

While I’ve been freaking out ever since the short teaser video was released — since I’ve gotten to see Doughty solo a couple of times, but have never seen the band perform live — it doesn’t seem to have hit everybody with the same magnitude. I’ve seen a couple of other fans comment on it, and the reactions are either this is the greatest thing that has ever happened, or who? (Maybe oh is that the super bon bon band? That’s nice I’m happy for you.)

For me it’s another one of those reminders of how I don’t get music on a fundamental level. Usually it’s about composing/creating, but here it’s about appreciating. Music has such a specific appeal for different people, and for me at least, it’s completely unpredictable. I can usually get to know someone and think, “Oh, you’d probably enjoy Battlestar Galactica,” or “I think you’d like Young Frankenstein,” or “You seem like you’d be a fan of David Foster Wallace’s books,”2Which I mean in a non-derogatory way, although I’m aware there are many who’d consider that the gravest insult. with a fairly good success rate. But I can’t do the same with any music. Even recommending bands similar to the bands I already know someone likes.

That also means that I just don’t get why people aren’t as blown away by Soul Coughing as I am. El Oso, my favorite of their albums, is near-perfect and not quite like anything I’d heard before, even from the band itself. Much of it feels like it was discovered like a Voyager gold disc, sent from a planet with an advanced civilization of jazz hipsters.

So I tried to pick what I think are the two Soul Coughing-est songs on their three albums, with the condition that they can’t also appear on their greatest hits album. The first is “Disseminated,” from Irresistible Bliss:

The upright bass, a looping sample from Raymond Scott, the stream-of-consciousness-seeming lyrics, a reference to chocodiles, the shuffling drums, and a backdrop of perfectly weird sounds that seem like the Mos Eisley Cantina band tuning up. What’s not to love?

The other is “I Miss the Girl” from El Oso:

This is like the climax to an amazing album full of amazing songs. Its creepy opening hook repeated over and over, getting more intense, and then everything building and building in creepy intensity until it ends in a cataclysm of sound, and then suddenly stops. (Leading perfectly into the quieter “So Far I Haven’t Found the Science,” which to me feels like what would happen if Soul Coughing made a song for a Muppet movie).

Anyway, I love them, and you should too. I keep having to remind myself that their last album was released in 1998, because to me it still sounds like music from the distant (and cooler) future.

  • 1
    I haven’t read the book (yet), but from what I’ve heard it sounded like he was completely done with the band for good.
  • 2
    Which I mean in a non-derogatory way, although I’m aware there are many who’d consider that the gravest insult.

3 thoughts on “Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Are You Not Entertained?!”

  1. I really wish that “Screenwriter’s Blues” was out when I was living in Southern California; it would have made a much better personal soundtrack song than RHCP’s “Under The Bridge.”

    1. I feel like RHCP is a much more quintessentially SoCal band, though, while Soul Coughing will always be Brooklyn.

      1. I was surprised to learn Doughty lived in Pensacola for awhile in the 90s. Like waves in which you drown me shouting, I guess.

        I read Doughty’s memoir! It’s pretty good, although also awfully rough. And it is very, very mean about his former bandmates, I’m amazed they got past that.

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