1957 Will Glahé – Liechtensteiner Polka
Polka music and dancing originated in the 1800s in Bohemia, which is now part of the Czech Republic. Americans became aware of polka music thanks in no small part to the Beer Barrel-Polka. Jaromír Vejvoda wrote the song in 1927. Accordion player Will Glahé and his Glahé Musette Orchestra had a hit with their version of the song in 1936 in Germany entitled Rosamunde. The American release of the single in 1939 used the title Beer Barrel-Polka. It sold over a million copies and reached the top of the Hit Parade.
That same year, the Andrews Sisters recorded a version of the song that included English lyrics written by Lew Brown and Wladimir Timm. The chorus caused many people to assume the title of the song was “Roll Out The Barrel.”
Will became known as the polka king, and many other artists released polka music through the forties. Arthur Godfrey’s biggest-selling single was 1947’s Too Fat Polka, a song that he later insisted he hated.
Will’s second-biggest single in the forties came in 1948 with the release of You Can’t Be True, which reached #17 in the US. The song featured English lyrics and wasn’t a polka number.
Will’s next return to the US charts came in 1957 with the release of the single Liechtensteiner Polka. Instead of an instrumental, they recorded the song using its original foreign lyrics. He had only one more single that reached the Hot 100. Sweet Elizabeth spent one week at #91 in 1958. Dozens of albums followed through at least 1987. Will died in 1989.
We hear little polka music lately, but Weird Al often puts polka medleys on his albums that combine multiple recent hits with his polka stylings. His 2011 album included the polka medley Polka Face. The song contained a partial cover of the 1957 polka song and partial covers of Poker Face, Womanizer, I Kissed A Girl, and many more recent hits from that year.
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