September 2, 2010

Mike Doughty//Down On The River By The Sugar Plant

OSS: Where the Sweetness is Made.

A friend of mine put this song on a mix he sent me when I was living in London at a very sad and lonely time in my life. It really struck a chord then and when I hear it now in a bar or out somewhere, I still get a strong jolt of sense memory. It's about someone who feels disjointed and dejected, cut off from society and getting weirder by the second, which, coincidentally, was how I felt during most of my time in the UK.

You might remember Mike Doughty from the 90s band Soul Coughing, who had a few hits with a song about walking around in circles and something called "Super Bon Bon." Soul Coughing kind of ended in disaster, with Doughty addicted to heroin and the band dropped from their label. Thankfully for us, he was able to overcome his drug problems and have a successful solo career. I find that I enjoy some of his solo material more than his stuff with SC, which is a rare thing.

Judging by the references to "boatloads of bootleg Sean John" on Orchard St., my guess is that the "sugar plant" Doughty is referencing is the Domino on Kent St. in Williamsburg, BK. Want to see a picture?

Down On The River By The Sugar Plant.mp3

I pledge allegiance to my displacement.
My flag of doubt is unfurled.
And I’ll dream you up on a vast, dark coast,
Believe I see you walking toward me, arms outstretched like a Ghost
And I want to kiss you but I can’t,
Down on the river by the sugar plant.

The Sugar Plant: Domino Sugar was started in 1799 by William Frederick Havemeyer (the called Havemayer, Townsend & Co Refinery). By 1900, the Havemeyers had purchased five addition plants and renamed their East Coast sugar empire "Domino." William F. Havemeyer was also mayor of NYC through a lot of the 1800s, which is why there is a street named after him (right next to the street named after the guy responsible for the Brooklyn Bridge).

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