Where Polkas Come From
The Music

Third update...

Krzyczy Baba Krzyczy

Some dedicated “polka lyricists” out there may already know which polka this song is the root of, just by reading those first three words in the Polish title. Some of you may be more familiar with Richie Tokarz’s humorously shouted lyrics of this song. In the polka world, its better known as either Psia Krew Polka or Son Of A Gun Polka, perhaps the most popular recording being made by The Pala Brothers. Here it’s being performed by Kapela Jany, from the small village of Niebylec in SE Poland. For video of Kapela Jany, check out my youtube.

Zo Cirynego Boru

Certainly someone simply reading the title of this one might think that it doesn’t even sound like Polish. It is Polish, but not proper Polish. It’s in the Góral dialect spoken throughout the Tatra Mountains of southern Poland. The title also won’t give away what polka we’d tend to associate with this melody. However, it should only take the well trained polka ear only a few notes before it can easily be recognized as either Adam & Eve Polka or Ewonia Polka, both of which were recorded by Lil Wally (one with lyrics, the other without). Góralska Kapela Stanisława Ogorka, from the town of Ciche in the Podhale region, performs it here in true Góral style.

Pasla Hancia Pavy

Located throughout the Carpathian Mountains, transcending borders and boundaries, are several ethnic Slavic peoples without their own countries. So populous are some of these groups that many countries, such as Poland, recognize them as legitimate minority ethnic groups. Rusyns, Ruthenians, Lemkos, Hutsuls, Boykos… and technically, even the Górals of Southern Poland are among these. Many of them simply claim to be the ethnicity of whichever Eastern European nation’s borders they dwell within, but in recent post-communist years, much interest in the “sub-cultures” of Slavic countries is beginning to stir. This particular recording, made in 1929 by Stefan Skimba, is of the Lemko ethnicity. The name differs only slightly from its Polish title Pasła Andzia Pawie, or as most polka fans would know it… Andziu’s Polka. For more on Lemkos, click here.

Song courtesy of Walt Mahovlich

Spod Kamienia Woda Tryska

There are numerous sets of lyrics for this particular tune. These lyrics, sung by Kapela Bukowianie from the village of Bokowsko, are about a lover who’s waiting in vain as the seasons pass. The majority of polka bands have actually recorded this number as an instrumental, calling it… Concertina Polka!

Od Krakowa Czarny Las

Another easily recognizable tune that gave roots to a modern polka. Slightly different words in the title and throughout the verses, but the same sad story line about Kasia telling Jasiu goodbye as he leaves for war (fairly standard). We would know this one as Naokoło Ciemny Las Polka, or Dark Forest Polka. The band here is Kapela Andrzej Obrochty from the Podhale region. For some good polka versions, check out Staś Golonka, Richie Gomulka, or Lil Wally. Here, on my youtube, is the same song performed by a different góral group that I recorded in Cleveland.

Song courtesy of Diane Ruszczyk