Mike Doughty’s recommendation: “One of things that attracts me to Thin Lizzy is that I’m so moved by the life story of Phil Lynott, the singer, songwriter and bass player. His father was a black Guyanese guy that knocked up his Irish mom and split. He grew up a black kid in Dublin. Can you imagine how isolated that kid must’ve felt? Much of his work resonates with his very strong core of Irishness, which is poignant, given how he must’ve been taunted for his un-Irish appearance.
He’s a soulful, tortured singer, very Van-Morrison-influenced, which is really interesting, given Thin Lizzy’s solidly 70s-heavy-rock sound.
Phil Lynott died, in 1986, of septicemia – which, as far as I understand the Wikipedia entry, is basically an inflammation of every organ – brought on by a ruinous heroin and alcohol intake.
They weren’t, in my opinion, an album band – their strength was the live show. They have some amazing recordings – The Boys Are Back in Town, naturally, and Jailbreak, which has one of the most amazing, thick, rich, growly guitar sounds of all time.”
New to Thin Lizzy? Mike suggests you start here: “Actually, I’d recommend a newcomer a live album called Life/Live, a tossed-out end-of-career album. It’s slightly tricky to find–there’s a CD reissue, licensed by a small label, buyable online, but it wasn’t a particularly important album in their career.
It happens to be the first Thin Lizzy album I ever bought. I ordered it from the Columbia Records and Tapes Club as a 14-year-old, in 1985, not knowing anything about how the band sounded. Being a metal kid, it was way more soulful than anything I’d been listening to.
The cult of Phil Lynott is kind of hilarious. There is an incredibly ugly bronze statue of him standing outside a pub on Harry Street in Dublin. In fact, there is an astonishing range of bad portraits of him. As it happens, on my Tumblr, http://mkdo.co, I declared January of 2012 Bad Phil Lynott Art Month, and posted a horrible picture of him daily.
There’s a haunting connection in two of my favorite songs, Dancing in the Moonlight and Got to Give It Up. In the former, he’s a teenager staying out too late to meet a girl; one lyric is, “My father, he’s going crazy–he says I’m living in a trance.” The latter is a cry for help from a barstool, explicitly about how low he’s been brought (a hideous irony is that he introduces the tune on Life/Live with a whoohoo-is-anybody-drunk-out-there-tonight monologue). The first line is, “Tell my mother, and tell my pa, that their fine young son didn’t get too far.” So harrowing that he writes about a father that he never really had.”
About our guest author, Mike Doughty: Mike is currently a solo artist but most will remember him as the leader of Soul Coughing, a band that Doughty formed in 1992 and was deserving of Steve Almond’s praise of “making the most interesting music on the planet” for a number of years back in the ’90s. The band uniquely blended infectious grooves, jazz arrangements and, of course, Mike’s signature lyrics. There were alternative hits (Soundtrack to Mary and Super Bon Bon), albums and praise, but the group disbanded in 2000. After Soul Coughing, Mike hit the road on his own and was approached by Dave Matthews to sign to his ATO label. Fast forward several years and albums later, we find Mike still doing what he does best: releasing ultra-catchy records that are packed with his sly observations and playing those songs for adoring fans. His latest release, Yes And Also Yes is one of his best, and standout tracks Na Na Nothing (video below) and Holiday (What Do You Want) deserve massive repeats on your Spotify playlists. (Incidentally, the latter is duet with Roseanne Cash, who has been very vocal about being a big M. Doughty fan, listen to the track here). Mike has also written his first memoir, The Book of Drugs: A Memoir and the critics are raving. Popmatters.com says, “The reason why The Book of Drugs works is because it’s absolutely unflinching … A highly entertaining read … All in all, The Book of Drugs is an outstanding book.” Mike is out on the road supporting the album and the book, so be sure to visit http://www.mikedoughty.com/ to get the latest on his appearances and new releases.