Ol’ Scratch, of the Boston Babydolls: "Top 5 songs that aren’t in The Wrathskellar (but could have been)"

Scratch as his normal fashionable self (left) and as Bücher, the charming proprietor of The Wrathskellar (right)

"The soundtrack for a typical Boston Babydolls show are largely songs from the 1930s and '40s, or ones that sound like they could have been written then. They tend to be bouncy and upbeat, and the acts that accompany them are glamorous and slightly silly. That all goes to Hell for our new show, The Wrathskellar. After all the bullshit we went through with the City of Quincy [Phoenix article: "Quincy Council plays with dolls"], I have to admit we were good and pissed ... and a lot of that crept into this show. The Wrathskellar is one of those places no one intends to go; people just find themselves there. A dark and dreary tavern a few steps below street level, we chose music that evoked a place where Jack the Ripper might down a glass of bathtub gin at a table with Mack the Knife. There’s a lot of good music in a minor key, and we only get to use some of it. These are the songs that we wanted to use, but couldn’t quite fit into the show. Want to know what we did use? Come and visit us at The Wrathskellar. We won’t bite ... hard."
1) "Clap Hands," Tom Waits (Rain Dogs) [YouTube]
I knew from the minute I conceived of The Wrathskellar that Tom Waits would be in attendance. His growling, smoky, whiskey-soaked voice and air of depression perfectly captured the tone we were looking for. I bought Rain Dogs when it first came out (yes, I’m old) and played the cassette to death. There are a bunch of songs on this album that would have fit right in, but this one is my favorite.
2) "Candy Shop," Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire (Oh! The Grandeur) []
The opening invocation, “Well, piece by piece and nail by nail it'll all come down some day before the fires of Hell,” particularly resonated with me and reflected how I felt about the zoning board of a certain city south of Boston. Plus it’s got a great beat. We didn’t end up using it, but we do use songs from Andrew Bird’s old band, the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

3) "The Tower," What Time Is It, Mr. Fox? (And Other Stories) [CD Baby]
We like to use local bands in our shows whenever possible, whether that means dancing to recorded music or working with live musicians. This lyrically complex waltz, with its haunting combination of violin and harpsichord, had just the right sound for The Wrathskellar but didn’t quite inspire a story that worked in this show. We are using local favorites the Dresden Dolls and Cirkestra, and would love to work with WTIIMF some day ...
4) "Jezebel," Edith Piaf (Divas Exotica) [YouTube]
The biggest reason we didn’t use this song is that there are about 20 very good versions, and we couldn’t pick a favorite. The tale of a woman who is “a devil born/without a pair of horns” fit right in with our themes of betrayal and revenge, and Piaf’s own life story echoed many of the elements of The Wrathskellar ... hunh. Maybe we should have used it.
5) "Sex Spider," Gogol Bordello (Voi-la Intruder) [YouTube]
Gogol Bordello is often billed as “Gypsy-punk,” and most of their songs are more punk than gypsy, so we can’t use them in our shows ... but we love this song. We love it so much that Betty Blaize and Honey Do did a number to it back in our second Out for Blood show. You won’t see this number at The Wrathskellar (why mess with a good thing?), but you can see it on-line.

The Boston Babydolls Burlesque Troupe present The Wrathskellar, July 13-18, at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown.

Playlist 7-10-09
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