Who’s Mike?

Ten Things Mike Doughty Would Like You to Know About His Latest
Full-Length Album

1. It’s all covers. I’ve been obsessed with making beats, arranging music, and, partially, this record came out of an obsessive itch to do more work. I play every single sound on 12 of the songs.

2. The title is from a 1956 review, in Variety, of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Crazy Arms.” It means, “The b-side is also really good.”

3. The inimitable Rosanne Cash sings on “Take Me Home, Country Roads”; pianist “Cashmere” Dan Chen and cellist Andrew “Scrap” Livingston, appear on three tunes, including “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat,” a song from the musical “Guys and Dolls.”

4. I had to get approval from the John Denver estate for “Sunshine”, which is me rapping between choruses of a sample of his voice. I was surprised to hear that the John Denver estate was really stoked about the way I used the sample.

5. I broke cover-album rules, and did two songs by a single artist. Actually, I broke it twice: two Cheap Trick songs, two John Denver songs.

6. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was my first favorite song. I listened to it with my ear pressed against a boxy, bulky cassette-tape player, in the back of a massive, green 1970s Oldsmobile.

7. I sing one tune entirely in French–the Camille song “Ta Douleur.” When I was a kid, and my military dad was stationed in Belgium, I was sent to a French-speaking school. There were a couple of other American kids whose parents had the same idea. Our teacher, Monsieur Delboef, who stank of booze, would scream at us, occasionally, but otherwise let us draw spaceships in our notebooks all day. So, I don’t speak French, but have been told I have a pretty convincing accent. My high school French teachers, when they heard me read aloud from the textbook, were shocked that I couldn’t speak the language. I learned “Ta Douleur” phonetically.

8. The chorus of “Ta Douleur” is, “I’ll take your pain.” The point-of-view is a woman telling a dude she’s gonna give his girlfriend the boot. One line is, “Who’s this gate-crasher, this dirty, brat-bitch of a little sister?” It’s a weird thing for me to sing. I have a belief that when you cover a song, you shouldn’t change the gender–for instance, Tiffany’s Beatles cover, “I Saw Him Standing There.” A singer is obligated to take on the difficulty of the gender mix–that would mean Tiffany sings from a gay point of view, and I’m singing “Ta Douleur” to a bisexual person of unspecified gender.

9. “Reach Out” is from the soundtrack of the 1982 animated movie “Heavy Metal.” I waited for Rick Nielsen, of Cheap Trick, outside Ike Hall, at West Point (my dad taught there), in 1984, and buttonholed him, asking him to play “Reach Out.” He laughed nervously–apparently it was an utterly left-field request.

10. The cover is a photo I took of a bombed-out concrete-shack record store in Jamaica. Sad, and wistfully funny, given the state of record-store-land.

See also:
THE FLIP IS ANOTHER HONEY Introduction & Track List