Like many kids who went to high school in the mid-90s, I discovered the band Soul Coughing. They didn’t sound like anything else on the radio, and as someone who enjoyed “classic” hip-hop, I appreciated the spoken-word nature of some of the songs.


SC eventually stopped putting out albums and I heard nothing from them until the latter half of the 2000s when I downloaded a song by someone called Mike Doughty. A little research showed me that he was the former lead singer of Soul Coughing.

I picked up one album. I loved it.

I picked up ALL the albums.

I supported his campaign to put out Circles Super Bon Bon.

I bought his book.

I saw him live in concert.


Maybe his music isn’t to your taste, but I like it, and if you’ve never tried the Doughty, maybe these six songs will give you a taste and have you coming back for more.

6. Madeline and Nine — I would consider this one of the “quintessential” Doughty songs. It’s mostly about being in love with someone who can’t be yours for whatever reason — and it’s mostly a “normal” song in that there aren’t a lot of samples or unique instruments.

5. I Hear the Bells — One thing I like about Doughty’s songs is that he isn’t afraid to sing about sexual situations. This song contains one, and it also contains one of his best lyrics ever:

You snooze, you lose.
Well I have snost and lost.

4. (You Should Be) Doubly (Gratified) — Doughty has traveled the world — he talks about this in his book, The Book of Drugs. This song is a story song, which appeals to me; many story songs do. It’s also a very positive song — he’s done all this stuff, and he believes himself fortunate and lucky to have had these opportunities.

3. Fort Hood — Some of Doughty’s songs are message-based, and although my politics do not necessarily agree with Doughty’s, this particular song resonates pretty heavily with me. It skewers America’s contemporary culture, talking about voting on football games instead of presidents and being more concerned with appearances and celebrity gossip. Plus it’s a really catchy song.

2. Rising Up — Another positive Doughty song, this one appears to be about how, no matter how bad things get, they can always get better. It’s catchy, fun to listen to, and has a good message. I’ve played it for my daughter, who is seven, despite the fact that it talks about cocaine use. I always tell people that things can get better, that we can rise above the bad, and this song helps remind me of that.

1. 27 Jennifers — I have a special place in my heart for this song for several reasons. First of all, my first published story was inspired by it, and is even called “27 Jennifers”. Secondly, it’s just an amusing song to someone who grew up when I did, when there were a lot of people named Jennifer at my school. I even dated one. My favorite lyric:

You might be the one that I’ve been searching for.
You might be the strange delightful.
You might be the girlie who shall end all girls.
You might be the sweet unspiteful.

So, try those six songs. Then try his albums. You (probably) won’t be disappointed.

Got a suggestion for a future “Six of the Best”? Tweet me @listener42 so that I can read it, forget to write it, remember it later, and forget to thank you for the idea. Because we all know that’ll happen.