51. Soul Coughing: non sequiturs

Posted on 22/05/2017

51. Soul Coughing: non-sequiturs

This band produced some amazing songs.They are also champions of the non-sequitur: ideas that do not logically follow one another.  The band  did not last, probably because of the slightly crazy feel of the whole thing. If you consider the video for one of their most popular songs, you can see what I mean:

The action is pretty strange: the RSPCA might have wanted to interview them about the cat, though it came to no obvious harm. It must have had a hard time with some of the noises going on though. There is a link to Captain Beefheart in the randomness with which the chorus ‘Super bon bon’ comes in.

The lead singer Mike Doughty looks a lot more civilised than the Captain but his movements are almost as odd. They don’t really look much like musicians. Indeed Doughty was the door keeper of the Knitting Factory nightclub and was noted for his rants. He carried this characteristic into his musical career.

The following song ‘Circles’ is mainly filmed in a tunnel (a bit like some of ‘Bon Bon’ and there is much repetition of the chant ‘I don’t need to walk around in circles’. This is technically true, since Doughty appears to weave along in a curving tunnel for most of the song.

The song that hooked me onto this band was ‘Disseminated’. This has a remarkable lyric as well as rhythm. Its probably best to listen to the song before tackling the lyric.

I have reproduced most of the lyric below, as its pretty wonderful word association:

The goat chewed up
Once a tin can
The goat shat out
Was a Ford Sedan

I like an eyeball
I like a square cut
I like a funny car
I like a monster truck [Multi truck]
….
And ever since then, I got disseminated
And ever since then, I got disseminated
And ever since then, I got disseminated
Well it’s a self fulfilling prophecy

The Jupiter Moon, I got disseminated
The Jupiter Moon, I got disseminated
The Jupiter Moon, I got disseminated
Well it’s a self fulfilling prophecy

A toots hibbert
Up at the wrong prom
Serves a beat down
Upon a tom tom

I like Genius
I like Jason
I like Joseph
I like Nirvana [Irvine]
….
The Jupiter Moon, I got disseminated
The Jupiter Moon, I got disseminated
The Jupiter Moon, I got disseminated
Well it’s a self fulfilling prophecy

At first it sounds like a collection of non-sequiturs. Indeed on the thousandth listening, which is about where I am, it also appears to be mainly a collection of non-sequiturs.

The version of the lyric which I found on Google, some of which is printed below, does not agree with the recorded version in all its glory. The lyric says he likes a ‘monster truck’ but the vocals say ‘multi-truck’. I am not sure what either is, but they are not the same! Equally, in the second verse where he lists fhe boys he fancies, he quite clearly finishes the list with ‘Irvine’ but the printed lyric says ‘Nirvana’ which doesnt even scan.

Toots Hibbert, whom he mentions in the second verse is sacred to lovers of Ska and Reggae as the main man of Toots and the Maytals, the most successful ska band in the history of that genre.  There is no obvious reason for his being in the song. But that the non-sequitur way of life.

I also like the ‘square cut’ phrase which presumably refers to a hair do (though Doughty appears to be shaved or bald) but as a cricket lover I like that shot to be mentioned. Also with his New York (somewhere) accent it comes out as ‘Square Cot’ which gives it another surreal meaning altogether. The song remains, for me, enduringly charming.

 

 

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