Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Beer Barrel Heaven
























We've got another guest poster, Richard Solensky, today, who's got a bone to pick with us about a classic drinking song we've left off the Top 100 Drinking Songs list. He'd also like to chat with you a bit about #32 on the list. Mr. Solensky, the Barstool is yours:


"Polka is the forgotten genre of world music. Associated with Germans and
Poles, it's deemed "too square" to get the same love and respect that, for
example, Celtic/Irish music gets among today's rockers. It's a shame,
because there's nothing livelier or more suited to partying than a polka.

"In Heaven There Is No Beer" (#32) is one of those songs that everyone knows
the words to. A simple, four-line verse with an easy rhyme scheme (AAAA)
means anyone can create their own versions. And it seems everyone has -
Brave Combo, The Pogues, assorted college marching bands... Perhaps the
earliest recorded version belongs to the great Frankie Yankovic, in an
arrangement by his protégé Joey Miskulin.


Here's Frankie Yankovic's version, and a "klezmerpunk" version from Brave Combo.

Frankie Yankovic: In Heaven There Is No Beer (mp3)

Brave Combo: In Heaven There Is No Beer (mp3)

Another great, traditional polka is the "Beer Barrel Polka" (inexcusably left off the list, in my opinion). Based on a nineteenth century melody, it was given its current form by Czech composers Jaromír Vejvoda and Eduard Ingris in the 1920's. It was an instrumental known as the Polka of Modřany, and got its first lyrics in 1934 from Václav Zeman. His words made it a song about unrequited love, which really doesn't go well with the lively tune.

The song became a hit when a German version was published in 1938. The
English lyrics, that we all know and love, were written by Lew Brown and Wladimir Timm the next year. The Andrews Sisters had a smash hit with it almost immediately. Many others would follow with their own renditions (even the Grateful Dead recorded it!), making it perhaps the best selling polka of all time. And why not? After all, it's about a keg party, right?


Here are the Andrews Sisters showing why The Supremes were the Andrews
Sisters of the 60s with their version, and an instrumental version for two
banjos by Roy Clark and Buck Trent."

Andrews Sisters: Beer Barrel Polka(mp3)

Roy Clark and Buck Trent: Beer Barrel Polka(mp3)

7 comments:

Richard said...

Well, I was hoping I wouldn't be the first person to comment on my own post, but...

I can only blame myself for the omission of "Beer Barrel Polka". Figuring someone else would have taken care of it, I didn't even make sure it was nominated! Oh well.

By the way, you can get a live performance of the song by the Grateful Dead here at the Internet Archive.

If anyone else here at the bar is contemplating their own guest post, I note that three of the Top 100 Songs (5, 57, 83) deal specifically with moonshine...

Greg said...

Glad to see that Barstool Mt. is still up. Are you working on getting Big Rock Candy back from some spammer? (I guess you saw that songs:illinois was spammed yesterday but Craig has it back now.)

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