Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Polkas!

Like many young lads, I was a big fan of Weird Al Yankovic back in the day. And then, like many young men, I ceased to be a big fan of Weird Al Yankovic, because come ON. The odds are very good that if you have to actually refer to yourself as "Weird," you're really fairly conventional. Still, it was a big part of my childhood. My favorites were always the polka medleys that you would find on each album--snippets of popular songs spliced together in jaunty polka form, complete with wacky sound effects. When I started listening to his stuff, I was pretty musically illiterate--I had heard very few of the original version of the songs he parodied, and, for a good while, I didn't even understand that the polkas were medleys, since I didn't know any of the songs within--I kept trying to impose narratives on them, with, as you can imagine, limited success. It was all basically nonsense to me.

Anyway, on a whim, I decided to download some of those old polkas. And I'm glad I did. It's quite amazing how forcefully hearing "Hooked on Polkas" from Dare to Be Stupid--featuring the likes of Kenny Loggins, Duran Duran, ZZ Top, and Hall & Oates--brought back the feel of that particular time in my life. Almost Proustian. I downloaded a WHOLE BUNCH of them, and though the recent ones are kind of lost on me--I'm afraid I'm just not down with what the kidz are listening to these days--I got a real kick out of all the older ones.

There's only one that breaks away from the standard formula--"Bohemian Polka" is, as you would expect, a polka version of "Bohemian Rhapsody." It's pretty durned amusing--I sort of vaguely knew the original song from Wayne's World and from occasionally hearing it on the radio, and I wanted a copy of it SO BADLY. At that time, for some reason, I thought actually buying CDs was gauche or something, so my general strategy was to record stuff off the radio, usually missing the first few seconds at least, as you would expect--but I just COULD NOT find the damn thing. So, naturally, I listened to the polka version obsessively, and LIKED it, not in a particularly humorous way--when you think about it, it's not much more ludicrous than the original. Which I'm not sure if I ever found or not. Of course, now I have it on itunes. Last play: 09/20/05, 12:54 am. Once you have it, you stop wanting it. How true THAT is. I had a number of quite unreasonable song-lusts like that.

My favorite Yankovic polka, though, has to be "The Alternative Polka," from the album Bad Hair Day, which was the last one I really got into. I was in tenth grade when it came out, and it's actually sort of uncanny how well it captures my high school's prevailing musical interests--Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Soundgarden, Green Day, and so on. And while I doubt this was intentional, I have to say, hearing peppy, relentlessly up-beat quotes from Big, Serious, Angst-Ridden songs like "Closer," "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," and "You Oughta Know"--to say nothing of Stone Temple Pilots' creepy rape anthem "Sex Type Thing"--is, in addition to being extremely funny--actually sorta kinda subversive. The last thing you'd expect, given the source.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous pontificated to the effect that...

So did Amazon spontaneously delete your latest review, or what? It's listed under "Latest Activity," but you can't actually read it.

- SK

4:43 PM  
Blogger GeoX pontificated to the effect that...

It's bullshit, is what it is. I posted a two-star review, which was up for, oh, a day or so, and then mysteriously vanished. I don't see that happening with the positive reviews, oddly enough!

Anyway, I resubmitted it, and it should be there of this writing--though for how long, I could not say.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous pontificated to the effect that...

It might just be a problem with their system. I had a similar thing happen recently, where I submitted a review, then edited it, upon which it disappeared. So I emailed their customer service about it, and they put it back up, but in a garbled, edited form (I didn't even know they still did that). And I couldn't edit it again. I ended up just deleting it and then resubmitting, and then it worked. I have no idea why.

- SK

5:08 PM  

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