Album Review: Mike Doughty ‘The Question Jar Show’

bill bodkin reviews the storytelling album…

Sometimes you listen to an album and you wonder ‘Why have I not been listening to this artist for all these years?’

Mike Doughty is one of those artists. The former Soul Coughing frontman is a musician that’s been around my musical world for nearly 20 years and I had only given a passing look. I loved Soul Coughing’s hit track “Super Bon Bon,” but only discovered it due to its association to the Extreme Championship Wrestling tag team of “Dastardly” Danny Doring and Amish Roadkill. The freestyle hustle and flow of Doughty’s vocals set to the hypnotizing beats and riffs produced by the rest of the band made this a staple on my iPod. But for some reason, when it came to Soul Coughing, I never delved past this song.

And then in 2008, when Doughty’s “27 Jennifers” was released, I would often find myself tapping my toe and bopping my head to the track. It’s a damn fine song, but again, I never got past this track on Doughty’s Golden Delicious record.

If you’re looking for a reason why I never explored Doughty or Soul Coughing’s catalog…I honestly can’t give you a good reason.

But now that I’ve listened to his comprehensive storytellers-esque live album The Question Jar Show, I feel compelled to listen to everything he’s ever recorded.

The reason being — Doughty’s so damn charming. The storyteller aspect of the record is excellent — he’s frank, honest and funny. This is a dude you want to hear tell stories, who you might want to grab a beer with and listen to his stories of the road or his thoughts on…anything really. He just seems like a dude you can relate to and sometimes I like my rockstars that way. Bonus points for Doughty shouting out Piscataway, New Jersey (a town my collegiate alma mater had campuses) on this record too.

Musically, Doughty and his sidekick and cello player Andrew “Scrap” Livingston, kill it. They perform stripped down versions of Doughty’s vast catalog. Hearing the the most basic versions of the Doughty’s songs really piques my interest — I want to hear how these songs with full production behind them.

The album has also motivated me to check out Doughty’s biography The Book of Drugs. When I checked out a brief description of the book, written by the singer himself, I saw this: “So, I wrote a book called “The Book of Drugs.” It’s largely about drugs. There’s also a lot about the weirdness, and messed-up-ness, of life in Soul Coughing.” After listening to Doughty talk candidly and hilariously on The Question Jar Show, I say sign me up and let’s get into the book as well as his musical catalog as well.

Don’t ask me why I never gave the music of Mike Doughty a chance before today, but I know going forward I’ll never have to make that mistake again.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites