“I went to school with 27 Jennifers/ 16 Jenns, 10 Jennies, and then there was her,” sings Mike Doughty in the song “27 Jennifers” from the 2003 album Skittish/Rockity Roll. The song itself is pretty simple, but if you’re an American of a certain age you know exactly what he means with that opening line. (Maybe in 25 years, someone who’s 2 years old now will grow up to write a song called “27 Lillys.”) It’s such a good lyric that Doughty rerecorded the song for his new album Golden Delicious, released by Dave Matthews’ ATO Records.
If you remember Doughty only from his old band, Soul Coughing (he was just M. Doughty in those days), you may be a little confused at this point. Soul Coughing was a sinister-sounding New York City outfit that was influenced by hip-hop, jazz, and beat poetry. Doughty wrote weird, impressionistic lyrics, and he sounded as if he was singing them through clenched teeth. He would seize on one phrase and repeat it obsessively until it gained new meaning. That meaning was usually this: weird.
Since then, Doughty has kicked a nasty drug addiction, fought bitter fights with his old bandmates, and forged on as a solo artist despite lack of interest from most record labels. No one would begrudge him a chance to mellow out for a while on the jam-band circuit and sing cute songs about girls, but his old strangeness is still there, just under the surface. In another song on his new album, he sings: “I walked up to the accident/ And I chatted up the girl inside/ Will you be my friend?/ Will you be a friend of mine?”
MIKE DOUGHTY, Belly Up, Thursday, May 1, 9 p.m. 858-481-8140. $22.