Artist: Soul Coughing
Genre: Alternative Funk Rock
In the '90s, I headed to Nevada with my brother and a couple of friends to jump out of an airplane. It's not often you get to stand on the outside of a moving plane, and in an instant find yourself plummeting towards the desert. It was an extraordinary experience.
When it was over, they handed me a video of the jump, complete with soundtrack. That was the first time I heard Soul Coughing.
It was "Super Bon Bon," and they were singing, "Move aside and let the man go through, let the man go through," as we walked towards the plane in our jumpsuits, in slow motion.
Cut to us jumping at about 15,000 feet...."Let the men go through." It was an action movie moment. I have never felt cooler than when I first I watched myself on that video.
Except for that dude strapped to my back.
Some time later, after a rotten week, I was sitting around flipping channels, and stopped on what looked like a music video for the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons on Cartoon Network’s classic Boomerang channel.
When the video was over, I learned it was "Circles" by Soul Coughing. The song was catchy, and the video was flawless. So I spent the rest of that day watching old cartoons. And a bad week started getting better. Immediately, I set out to learn about the band and bought all three albums they recorded.
Soul Coughing was started by singer/songwriter/music critic Mike Doughty, who met the other members while working as a doorman at the Knitting Factory in NYC: keyboard /sample player Mark Degli Antoni, bassist Sebastian Steinberg and drummer Yuval Gabay.
Degli Antoni’s experimental sampling and Doughty’s beat-influenced lyrics and singing style gave the band a unique jazz and funk sound. They set up shop in CBGB Gallery, and were soon signed by Warner Brothers' subsidiary, Slash.
The first two albums, Ruby Vroom and Irresistible Bliss, contained a couple of minor hits, including “Super Bon Bon.” But the breakthrough came with El Oso and the single “Circles," which hit #36 on the charts, thanks to the Cartoon Network groovie. Of course, the band was fighting over royalties by then, and another good thing ended over the green.
There were good songs on all three albums, and I liked more than a few of them. But my favorites are still "Circles" and "Super Bon Bon." Are these their best songs? I'm not sure. Would a 13 year old girl, or a 45 year old woman, for that matter, really relate to "move aside and let the man go through"? Their entire catalogue seems like it was made to be a soundtrack.
For a guy watching a video of himself standing on the wing of a moving airplane, or someone thinking back to a happier time, they were just right.
It’s as if Soul Coughing was writing songs just for me.
It turns out artists are right. We need art in our lives. But before Kanye busts in and demands more money, it’s important to note that art needs us more.
It’s a great circle.