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Sunday, March 6, 2011

I Do Miss The Polka

I am the daughter of a drummer.

I was raised on Big Band music. Nowadays that sounds quaint, because there are people (young) out there that assume someone in their 40s would naturally have been raised during the Swing Era.

That’s wrong. Get yer musical eras straight!

Anyway, while the rest of the kids in the ‘70s were listening to rock and/or roll, I was being schooled on the finer points of Krupa versus Rich, on the intricacies of a Goodman solo and why Ellington was a god.

You can imagine how popular my incredible knowledge of this genre made me amongst the other Big Band freaks in high school.

Ha ha!

Other Big Band freaks in high school? Yeah. No. There weren’t any.

And this also explains why playing “air” clarinet is not nearly as cool as one would think.

I played “old tyme” music for Al Derke’s Melody Makers throughout high school in a band that could swell from three players to a couple dozen. Schottisches, polkas, mazurkas? I got yer happy-hoppin’ music right here! Ever heard of a "Polka Mass"? Polish Catholics dig it.

Picture a cultural/religious event that, told as a joke, would start with the line "A polka band and a priest walk into a ballroom..."

This is yet another activity that does not garner admiration from, well, anyone.

I still don’t know how it happened, but my first “rock” album purchase, in 10th grade, was Kiss’s “Destroyer”.

It all went to hell from there. From the Dorsey Brothers to the Chmielewski Fun Time Hour to Kiss to the Buzzcocks to all manner of musical decadence, I slid into a tattered blue jean and palmed-up-hair world. Iggy Pop wanted to be my dog, and I wanted to let him.

Today, there are very few styles of music that I don’t like. When pressed, I will admit that I don’t care for house music. Tunes being smooshed into each other, stealing the musical “hooks” from one song to play endlessly to a synthesized beat? Where’s the passion? How am I going to dance properly without a live drummer?

You call that music?!

But, hey. Live and let live has been my motto since, well, since I killed that guy; and so far, it’s working. I don’t really mind what you’re listening to unless it’s coming through the floorboards at 3:00 a.m.

And that’s another post.

34 comments:

Laoch of Chicago said...

There are not that many Benny Goodman fans around any more.

ellen abbott said...

Don't care much for big band but I love to dance a good polka.

John McElveen said...

I need this fix MORE tan I need my Morning Coffe!

You got d a Beat Gurl!

Rock on!

J

Kara said...

You just described my life (clarinet & all). My dad loved Tommy Dorsey, my mother liked the Walter Ostanek Polka Band, and I was into the Clash. But I gotta say - I can live quite happily without ever hearing another polka song.

Gigi said...

Any noise - be it music or something else - coming up through the floorboards (or from your car to mine) is nothing I want to hear.

laughingmom said...

We rasied our kids to listen to all types of music - but somehow I can't hear the word Polka nd not be reminded of my son's Weird Al Yankovich faze.

jabblog said...

Oh yes, polkas and big band - great!

Teresa Evangeline said...

Ah, Roll Out the Barrel... Good times. It doesn't bother me at all that I can relate. Instead of going to the gym, I think I'll fine me a polka partner.

Sioux said...

I can only tolerate polka music when I am surrounded by drunks in a winery in October. Could the Catholics add beer and wine to their Polka mass activities?

V. Furnas said...

Polka music mean we are on the road. That was always traveling music for my Grandparents. I love hearing it today takes me back to such great times.

Tracy said...

I was rasied with 'Ramblin' Rose' and 'Like a Rhinestone Cowboy' type music from my parents and the Beatles from my older brothers so I had a great combination of music in my life...wonderful however, as it gave me words to my many heartaches growing up!

ShanimalsCrackers.blogspot.com said...

Yeah, you're right. I thought the only people who listened to big band was my grandma. ;)

lisleman said...

I don't get how people can only like one type of music. Of course there is music that I don't care for such as Opera. But I enjoy a good classical tune once in awhile followed by a little C&W and a dash of Hip Hop. Speaking of drumming - what about Phil Collins? - wow that beat goes great with apes (did see that candy ad).

Leenie said...

Wow! From Dorsey to Kiss in one step. You musta got road rash from that one! But you're right that knowing all styles doesn't hurt and, in fact is quite painless and sometimes a whole lot of fun. Yeah, except house music. Don't you just love that drum solo in "Sing, Sing, Sing"?

Yandie, Goddess of Pickles. said...

I only know of one polka tune, but I dig it. Loituma's Ievan's Polkka. The original a capella version, not that weird dance remix they did.

Donna Hole said...

"A polka band and a priest walk into a ballroom..."
I'd listen to that joke :)

Drummers are my favorites too. I drive my kids nuts listening to Godsmack's drum battle. 8 minutes of absolute bliss.

And yes, big bands ROCK.

.......dhole

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

There's nothing like a good polka to get the heart pumping in stupid sillyness.
xoRobyn

Cloudia said...

You rock! I mean 'Polka' Pearl!!


Aloha from Honolulu


Comfort Spiral

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Casey Freeland said...

You just resurrected a wonderful memory for me. My father (who was born in 1922) had an 8-track under his dash in his Cadillac. And the only thing he ever played in that thing was big band. Thanks for that!

Cheers,

Casey

Belle said...

I like all kinds of music too, and the last few years have listened to a lot of Sinatra and Dean Martin. That is the music I grew up with.

Jhon Baker said...

I was raised on Beatles and Led Zeppelin. I had to locate the Big Band, Jazz and Blues on my own. For me it started with a love for Beethoven, I was so in love with his music and him I thought I was gay, this turned into a long love for all things classical - the first time I heard Miles blow - I fell in love with Jazz and Blues - It was all down hill from there - WHile I still listen to LZ and the Beatles - they can never compare to the true masters of music from Classical and Jazz and yes - the big band ear as well.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

Yup, swing, big band, Phil Collins-all great stuff. When you hear rap in the elevators, though, you will know that we have officially moved into new music era.

Silliyak said...

Reminds me of my one musician joke, "What do you call a drummer who has just broken up with his girlfriend? Homeless"

Eva Gallant said...

I loved the big band sound. I was the youngest of seven, and the music played on our record player (as they were called then) were things like Spike Jones (such fun!), Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and who could resist Buddy Rich on the drums? My oldest brother and sister could jitterbug like you wouldn't believe! I have to say I like most kinds of music, too.

Irish Gumbo said...

You are cool.

Happy Frog and I said...

I love big band music. Don't get me wrong, I love lots of different types of music too, but big band music is definitely one of my favourites styles to listen too.

That Janie Girl said...

Ah, girl, we did the polka to Bob Wills. It was big band - country style! Pull it up and listen to it!

becca said...

what a wonderful post

HermanTurnip said...

It seems that the older I get the more I appreciate older music. Now, I'll never get into 50's music, but stuff from the 30's and 40's is fantastic! I still hold dear my punk, industrial, metal, ambient, electronic and alternative, but man could Crosby, Calloway, Basie and the Dorsey Brothers swing! If only more people knew...

Kal said...

Why are you always called Melody Makers? I wonder if you ever saw the SCTV sketch comedy program called 'The Last Polka' about Polka 'giants' Yosh and Stan Schmengie on their last performance. It stars John Candy and Euguine Levey. You can find it on You Tube - well spend time for a old school polka princess.

Sandra said...

Live and let live...or since you killed that guy! I laughed out loud...and I shouldn't be because everyone is sleeping! Good one Pearl!

Symdaddy said...

Sorry, but I prefer Mr. Miller man myself!

Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen, Perlchen!

I did once stay in the same hotel as Count Basie's orchestra. The Count stayed in a hotel I couldn't afford!

Gaston Studio said...

I grew up with big band music as I was born in 1941 and my mother was crazy about all of them! I was a teenager when Rock 'n Roll was happening and I loved it, but that was when you could actually understand what the singers were saying.

Susan in the Boonies said...

The polka! That reminds me of being at an outdoor city festival when I lived in Switzerland, and watching my two roomates polka across the cobblestones to the wonderful Swiss folk music. I love the polka.