I’m not a big fan of the polka. As a kid, accordion was my primary instrument and polka requests were common… too common. But, of course, it was an accordion after all. By the time I was 14 I felt like if I played “Beer Barrel” or “Clarinet” one more time I’d just crawl away into a hole somewhere. But my Grandfather Zobrist loved polkas – and I would have played anything for him. Once I put the accordion away for good and took to piano, I vowed never to do another polka. I kinda felt that way about waltzes too.
But, of course, that didn’t work out. There are still folks out there who love polkas. Since I’m of German-Swiss descent myself, I can spot ’em coming a mile away. But we try to steer them toward this song by The Beatles. “Ob La Di, Ob La Da” is a happy tune that lends itself to dancing the… you guessed it… the POLKA! Paul McCartney wrote it in his usual irreverent style but John Lennon “loathed” the song (he was much too serious). I like it myself, mostly because I don’t have to roll out another beer barrel… unless somebody insists, of course.
On your next gig, try using this Beatles tune as a substitute for that German dance. It’s a lot more fun and the lyrics are downright cute. I’ll bet even Grandpa would tap his feet on this one…. but then he would have said “now how about a real polka, boy”. (sigh)