Tag Archives: Sad Man Happy Man

Doughty Releases Sad Man Happy Man

Here is a review by Joey O. Early last year, Mike Doughty released Golden Delicious, which meshed his solo career with some of the beats of his Soul Coughing days. However, the overall effect didn’t really make for a coherent listening experience. Coming back with Sad Man Happy Man, Doughty goes back to basics and makes his most stripped down record in years. Hearkening back to his first solo album; the self-released Skittish; much of Sad Man Happy Man focuses on Doughty's voice and acoustic guitar, with some bass and cello flourishes from his cohort Scrap Livingston. However, it is far from just another acoustic, singer-songwriter record. Opening with “Nectarine (Part Two),” a sequel to “Nectarine (Part One)” from Golden Delicious, it sets the tone for Sad Man Happy Man, keeping Doughty's distinctive voice and guitar style front and center. “Lorna Zauberberg” sticks out from its use of some sampled, chopped-up chatter, but there is very little in the way of extra sounds and production at all here. “Pleasure On Credit” is closest Doughty gets to his classic Soul Coughing free-form 'slacker jazz' rap-style (with the great couplet “John Paul Jones/bustle in the hedges”). The “happy man” part of the equation is represented by songs like “(I Keep On) Rising Up” and the raucous “Lord Lord Help Me Just To Rock Rock On.” In the end though, this is Mike Doughty doing what he does best: catchy songs with repetitive choruses and off-kilter wordplay that bore into your brain. You'll have two chances this fall to catch Doughty's always-enjoyable live show in the area: October 30 at the Sellersville Theater and November 27 at World Café Live.

Mike Doughty to release “Sad Man Happy Man” – October 6th on ATO Records

When Mike Doughty released his second official solo album, 2008’s Golden Delicious, the reaction from fans was intense. “Some hated it, some loved it better than Soul Coughing,” Doughty says. “I tend to take sharp left turns. Every time I put out a record, the audience seems to like what I did two years ago better. You’d think I could shrug it off because that’s what always happens, but it always gets to me.” Doughty admits that his upcoming album, Sad Man Happy Man - released October 6th on ATO Records - is a reaction to his fans’ reaction and that he’s giving the people what they want. “I really went for the ‘na-na-na's’ and the simple choruses and stuff on Golden,” he says. “The songs on Sad Man are more arcane and convoluted songwriting-wise, though they’re sparer in terms of instrumentation. Although my choruses are still simple — I love taking phrases and repeating them ad infinitum.” The largely acoustic Sad Man Happy Man is a deliberate return to everything people love about Mike Doughty, he makes albums that simmer with verbal wit, and Sad Man Happy Man is no exception with its songs about everything from relationship bust-ups (Doughty was going through one while he was recording it) to his astute observations about the American economy. "Pleasure on Credit" is a celebratory tale of the American spender in the face of the U.S.’s credit addiction crushing the world's markets; “Lord Lord” is all sly drug references, like “Tango and Cash” and “Dr. Nova,” which are both brand-names for bags of heroin. “That song is kind of like my ‘Walk on the Wild Side,’” Doughty says. “I like how Reed’s tune is all about tranny whores and yet is all over classic rock radio.” Doughty wrote "Rising Up" after his girlfriend sent him a terse email and, with his heart thumping, wrote five pages trying to exorcise his anxiety. “It’s my Gloria Gaynor moment,” he says with a laugh. “The message of the tune is: ‘You're fucked, but it doesn't matter. I'll keep on with my spiritual journey.’ Yes, I really am that much of a hippie.” Musically, Sad Man Happy Man finds Doughty returning to his acoustic roots thanks to its stripped-down arrangements that feature Doughty backing himself on guitar. He also did all the drum programming, as well as played keyboards and what he calls the “weird noise stuff,” while his long-time touring partner Andrew “Scrap” Livingston handles bass duties. Recorded at New York’s Kampo Studios, the album was co-produced by Doughty and engineer Pat Dillett (They Might Be Giants, David Byrne, Arto Lindsay), with the exception of album’s first single “Doubly Gratified,” which was produced by David Kahne, who helmed Soul Coughing’s 1996 album Irresistible Bliss, as well as albums by Paul McCartney, Sugar Ray, and Tony Bennett. Doughty maintains a widely read blog (mikedoughty.com/blog) that chronicles his unique shows, international travels, and creative endeavors. He’s currently writing a memoir, recording an electronic album entitled Dubious Luxury, and working on a photo book about Eritrea’s capital city of Asmara, for Yeti Books. He also recently published a play, Ray Slape is Dead, in 24 by 24: The 24 Hour Plays Anthology, alongside Terrence McNally and Theresa Rebeck. But for now, Doughty is looking forward to a fall ‘09 “Question Jar” tour with his friend Scrap and releasing Sad Man Happy Man. “Basically I'm trying to make stuff I want to listen to,” he says of the album. “And I mean that in a literal sense, not like, “Were I a listener, I would like this,” but rather something I can listen to on the subway on headphones and really dig. This is my life, this is what I do. That sounds matter-of-fact, but I really do look at it as a sort of calling — and being an artist at its best is selfless. I'm working for the language, I'm working for the music, I'm working for the songs. I'm a happier guy when I'm conscious of that.” Sad Man Happy Man tracklisting – ATO # 0081 Nectarine (part two) (I Keep On) Rising Up (You Should Be) Doubly (Gratified) Lorna Zauberberg (I Want to) Burn You (Down) Pleasure on Credit Lord Lord Help Me Just to Rock Rock On (He's Got the) Whole World (in His Hands) (When I) Box the Days (Up) Year of the Dog Diane How to Fuck a Republican Casper the Friendly Ghost (written by Daniel Johnston) Fall ‘09 tour – all dates subject to change Oct 8th 2009 Club Cafe Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (two shows) Oct 9th 2009 Club Cafe Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Oct 10 2009 The Drake Hotel Toronto, Ontario Oct 11 2009 The Drake Hotel Toronto, Ontario Oct 11 2009 The Drake Hotel Toronto, Ontario Oct 13 2009 Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland OH Oct 14 2009 The Ark Ann Arbor, Michigan Oct 15 2009 Schubas Tavern Chicago, Illinois (two shows) Oct 16 2009 Schubas Tavern Chicago, Illinois Oct 17 2009 Shank Hall Milwaukee, Wisconsin Oct 18 2009 Blueberry Hill St. Louis, Missouri Oct 20 2009 Zanzabar Louisville, Kentucky Oct 21 2009 3rd & Lindsley Nashville, Tennessee Oct 22 2009 Melting Point Athens, Georgia Oct 23 2009 Eddie’s Attic Decatur, Georgia (two shows) Oct 24 2009 The Evening Muse Charlotte, North Carolina Oct 25 2009 Grey Eagle Tavern Asheville, North Carolina Oct 27 2009 Arts Center Carrboro, North Carolina Oct 28 2009 The Southern Charlottesville, Virginia Oct 29 2009 Birchmere Alexandria, Virginia Oct 30 2009 Sellersville Theatre Sellersville, Pennsylvania Oct 31 2009 Le Poisson Rouge New York, New York