The Book of Drugs

The Book of Drugs

The Book of Drugs

by Mike Doughty

Mike Doughty in my mind is one of the best singer/songwriters in music today. So upon receiving his memoir The Book of Drugs, I was almost ravenous. I was going to get inside the head of one of my favorite artists. After just a few pages, I realized that this was not your typical memoir. There were no chapters or sections. In fact, it read more like a diary without the date stamps.

The book as a whole is loosely held together by the timeline. He starts off explaining how he was the oldest of three (one stillborn, on whose grave he would drink in his teen years) and how his father and father’s father were drunks and his mother was prone to manic paranoia fits. The story skips along at a pace that would make a speed freak, well, freak out. It’s a challenge keeping up with the textual jump cuts from one tangent to another. (He jumps from listening to “Tainted Love,” to barely making the honor roll so his parents would buy him a guitar, to his dad getting a Ph.D. all in the span of a page and a half.) Despite the rapidfire notes, there are several aspects of the memoir that are fascinating, especially for a Doughty fan.

The biggest for me is that he hates Soul Coughing. Not just the band members, but the music they made and everything about the group. I won’t go into too many details, but I’ll just give you a hint: If you attend a Mike Doughty concert, don’t ask for a Soul Coughing song. You may get berated. You may just get told “no.” Just know that it really pisses him off.

He very briefly discusses meeting Jeff Buckley (who he says had a perpetual frown) and M. Ward (who just a couple years ago crushed Doughty by asking if he was “writing plays now”).

Oh yeah, there are drugs. Lots and lots of drugs. Throughout all of his escapes from his teenage years to Soul Coughing to his solo stuff, there were mountains of drugs consumed. For all intents and purposes, he should be dead. And it actually took him becoming an alcoholic, not a drug addict, to make him realize that he had a real problem. That’s because he didn’t want to become like his father’s father (and probably his father). He’s been five years sober and it’s a miracle considering what he put his body through for years prior. The road there reads like someone who was looking for a way to get all the stuff off his chest that he’s been housing for years, throwing all of it at a page and then publishing it.

The book is choppy, but still manages to pull you in. The only issue is whether anybody outside of his fans would care. This certainly isn’t a book to give to someone if you’re trying to ward them away from drugs. Doughty embraces his drug-fueled years and says, endearingly, that he would not be the same without them. I just hope that he stays sober, otherwise this memoir is moot.

If you’re not a fan of Doughty or Soul Coughing, then The Book of Drugs probably won’t do much for you. For fans of either, this will put some clarity into the man behind the music. If you can make it through the speedballs.

Mike Doughty: www.mikedoughty.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Gregg Allman, RIP
    Gregg Allman, RIP

    Michelle Wilson gives tribute to the voice of an angel. Gregg Allman, RIP.

  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band
    Preservation Hall Jazz Band

    So It Is (Legacy). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • From Montenegro to Moldova: The Best of SEEFest 2017
    From Montenegro to Moldova: The Best of SEEFest 2017

    For the twelfth year, the South East European Film Festival (SEEfest) in Los Angeles showcased an impressive lineup of new features and shorts. Lily and Generoso Fierro provide a festival wrap up and their picks for the films that you cannot miss.

  • Justin Townes Earle
    Justin Townes Earle

    Kids In The Street (New West Records). Review by James Mann.

  • Christian Scott
    Christian Scott

    Rebel Ruler (Ropeadope / Stretch Music). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Temples
    Temples

    Supporting their just-released sophomore record, UK synth-pop poster boys, Temples, attracted an SRO crowd to one of Orlando’s premier nightspots.

  • Kivanç Sezer
    Kivanç Sezer

    Turkish director Kivanç Sezer’s powerful debut feature, My Father’s Wings, puts the spotlight on the workplace safety crisis that is currently taking place in his homeland. Lily and Generoso Fierro spoke with Sezer at SEEFest 2017 about his film and his need to draw attention to this issue.

  • Rat Film
    Rat Film

    Baltimore. Rats. A match made in Maryland.

  • Bishop Briggs
    Bishop Briggs

    Bishop Briggs brings a stacked bill of up and comers to Orlando for a sold-out party at The Social. Jen Cray joins in the fun.

  • Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World
    Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World

    There’s more than black music influencing the evolution of Rock and Roll. Native American rhymes and ideas are every bit as significant, once you know to look for them.

From the Archives