'The Book of Drugs' Review: Singer's Blunt Talk on Rock's Seedy Side

'The Book of Drugs' Review: Singer's Blunt Talk on Rock's Seedy Side

“…And if heroin still made me feel like I did the first time, and kept making me feel that way forever-kept working-I might’ve quite happily accepted a desolate, marginal life and death.”

-Mike Doughty, The Book of Drugs

Singer/songwriter Mike Doughty’s first attempt writing without rhyme or sheet music, “The Book of Drugs: A Memoir,” hits his audience hard. You probably don’t recognize the name. The former front man of the ’90s rock band Soul Coughing doesn’t blame you. But if you’ve experienced “Walking Around in Circles” or prayed “St. Louise is Listening,” you need no introduction to the man behind the music and lyrics of the progressive band.

Doughty is currently on tour promoting his book and new studio album, “Yes and Also Yes,” (totally worth the listen.) He also recently released a double disc live album dubbed “The Question Jar Show,” and it’s exactly how it sounds – giving foul-mouthed answers to the strangest questions his fans could submit with his partner in crime, cellist and electric guitarist Scrap Livingston. But Doughty wouldn’t allow any submission regarding Soul Coughing. That being said, hilarity ensued.

That was so 2009.  

“The Book of Drugs: A Memoir” describes the ins and outs of the band’s hierarchy (he, as the minstrel of the court), coupled with the descriptive blur of drug use–associations Doughty has been running from since 2000. Of his band mates, the unnamed sampler player, bass player, or drummer, Doughty wants nothing to do with them. Often enough through the pages, Doughty will stop, as if realizing how crappy he was treated, and reflect on how he should’ve said or done something differently.

He notes this description in the opening of the book and admits other people may remember it differently, as there are two sides to every story. Other encounters include memories with classmate Ani DiFranco and sharing thoughts with the late Jeff Buckley, as well as scaring/embarrassing the Dave Matthews Band.

Doughty has decided to face his demons. Now, his current tour consists of his music post-Soul Coughing and readings from his new work. Fear not – the question-interaction is still in practice; but he only accepts questions regarding Soul Coughing. When asked the potential of a reunion with his former band mates, Doughty would reply “F%@K no.”

Doughty accomplishes painting the picture of the lifestyle no one wants to talk about in the music industry, or for that matter, in Hollywood.