Beer Barrel Polka
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|("Beer Barrel Polka")|
|Roll Out the Barrel|
Memorial plaque of the author with the song's name in Czech, German and English
Beer Barrel Polka, also known as Roll Out the Barrel, is a song which became popular worldwide during World War II. The music was composed by the Czech musician Jaromír Vejvoda in 1927. Eduard Ingriš wrote the first arrangement of the piece, after Vejvoda came upon the melody and sought Ingriš's help in refining it. At that time, it was played without lyrics as Modřanská polka ("Polka of Modřany"). Its first text was written later (in 1934) by Václav Zeman – with the title Škoda lásky ("Wasted Love").
The polka became famous around the world. In June 1939, "Beer Barrel Polka", as recorded by Will Glahé, was #1 on the Hit Parade. This version was distributed by Shapiro Bernstein. Glahé's earlier 1934 recording sold many copies in its German version Rosamunde (it is possible the reason for the rapid spread was due to the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany, and subsequent emigration of thousands of Czechs to other parts of the world, bringing this catchy tune with them). The authors of the English lyrics were Lew Brown and Wladimir Timm. Meanwhile, the song was recorded and played by many others such as Andrews Sisters in 1939, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Benny Goodman, and Billie Holiday. Bobby Vinton also had his version of the song, which peaked at #33 in 1975.
During World War II, versions in many other languages were created and the song was popular among soldiers, regardless of their alliances. It was claimed many times that the song was written in the country where it had just become a hit. Its actual composer was not widely known until after the war.
- The song became a signature song of well-known entertainer Liberace.
- Since the 1970s, it (usually the Frankie Yankovic version) has been played during the seventh inning stretch at Milwaukee Brewers baseball games, as well as becoming one of the state of Wisconsin's unofficial state songs as it is also played at numerous University of Wisconsin sporting events, as well as Green Bay Packers home games, and Milwaukee Panthers basketball games, including after every home win.
- The Australian Rugby League Football Club, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks has a club song known as 'Sharks Forever' which is sung to the tune of Beer Barrel Polka.
- Brave Combo and Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra made their own compositions of "Beer Barrel Polka".
- Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman features a recording of a young girl whistling this song.
- Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers plays a variation of this song in the movie At the Circus and A Night in Casablanca.
- The Wiggles sang this song on their album and video Sailing Around the World.
- In the Disney movie The North Avenue Irregulars, a scene features a tape recorder playing The Andrews Sisters' version of the song while Patsy Kelly, Barbara Harris, and Virginia Capers sing along with it.
- Bobby Vinton recorded "Beer Barrel Polka" in 1975.
- In an episode of Mr. Bean: The Animated Series, the Queen of England sings a portion of the song with a piano accompaniment.
- In an episode of The Critic, a trained bear plays the song for Jay Sherman, the critic, trying to stay a part of his show.
- An instrumental version is featured in the 1941 film "Meet John Doe".
- Elton John was known to play this particular song at the Northwood Hills Pub
- In an episode of "Hogan's Heroes", "Papa Schultz - Top Hat, White Tie, and Bomb Sight", the prisoners sing part of this song.
Names in other languages
- Greene, Victor. A Passion for Polka: Old-Time Ethnic Music in America. University of California Press, 1992, p. 131.
- Greene 1992, p. 131.