Beer Barrel Polka

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"Škoda lásky"
("Beer Barrel Polka")
Roll Out the Barrel
Praha Zbraslav - Jaromir Vejvoda.jpg
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.[1] 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[2] ("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, Bobby Vinton, Billie Holiday, and Joe Patek who sold over a million copies of his album "Beer Barrel Polka."[3]

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.

Popular culture[edit]

Bobby Vinton Version[edit]

  • Bobby Vinton recorded "Beer Barrel Polka" in 1975. The song was released as the follow up single to his multi million selling "My Melody of Love"and scored as a Billboard and Cashbox Top 40 hit. The success of the single, which was particularly popular on Jukeboxes led to its inclusion on Vinton's Heart of Hearts album in 1975 as well.

Other Versions[edit]

  • 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, along with "King of the Road."
  • In an episode of Hogan's Heroes, "Papa Schultz - Top Hat, White Tie, and Bomb Sight", the prisoners sing part of this song.
  • In 2005 the tune of 'Beer Barrel Polka" became the main inspiration for the theme tune for Marvel Comics's The Fantastic Four movie and can be heard throughout.
  • In the 1946 movie The Captive Heart, the song was sung by the POWs to drown out the camp speakers and by the repatriated troops as they arrive home.

Names in other languages[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Greene, Victor. A Passion for Polka: Old-Time Ethnic Music in America. University of California Press, 1992, p. 131.
  2. ^ Greene 1992, p. 131.
  3. ^