While reading a Salon.com article about The Hunger Games or Mad Men or some other popular cultural touchstone the other day, I happened upon an article about — of all things — polka music.
I started reading it as a lark but only a few paragraphs in I was suddenly transfixed. Here’s a type of music about which I have absolutely zero knowledge and yet entire organizations are dedicated to preserving it in an age dominated by shallow pop and rap music.
More instrumental artistry goes into a single polka tune than you’ll find in the entire top 40 and yet it is a style that is consistently either ignored or lampooned.
I pride myself on having a wide range of musical tastes. You’ll find rock, pop, country, alternative, jazz and opera in my CD collection. But among my hundreds of albums and thousands of songs, I don’t have a single polka recording. That doesn’t seem right.
So starting today I plan to remedy that. Over the next six weeks, I will feature nothing but polka songs on my blog. I will explore Polish-style, Chicago-style, Dutchmen-style, San Francisco-style and more. I will showcase the genre’s greatest stars, such as Walter Ostanek (featured today), Verne Meisner and Tom Brusky.
I’m sure this won’t be a popular move among my regular readers, but I hope to gain some new ones from the quiet but passionate polka community. And I hope the next 42 days serves as both entertainment and education for those who approach this exercise with open ears, hearts and minds.
Thank you, and have a happy April Fools Day.