Phone Book Polka:
Bad song by mediocre musician
by Phil Houseal
April 1, 2006
I was pulling into the HEB parking lot listening to Polka Time on the radio when a strange song assaulted my ears. I sat slack-jawed as a frenetic polkameister belted out something called the Fredericksburg Phone Book Polka.
You may have heard this affront to good taste. The Phone Book Polka describes the fortunes of a native of Germany who discovers this small town in Texas. The chorus - I swear - consists entirely of names from the phone book, sung in alphabetical order.
I had to find out who concocted something that actually made polka sound worse, so I called the local radio station to track down the composer. It wasn’t easy. The only copy of the song is an old cassette. On it we found a name - Rex - and a handwritten phone number that still had the 512 area code - about two area code changes back. We tried it anyway, with the current code, and a weary voice answered.
“Did you write the Fredericksburg Phone Book Polka?”
Silence. Then, “Who wants to know?”
I explained my mission and the voice admitted he was the culprit, and would talk only on the condition we protected his true identity. We agreed.
“Rex is not my real name,” he first offered. “I used to tape my songs on MEMOREX cassettes, and the “MEMO” part must have worn off.”
The first thing I asked was why “Rex” wouldn’t reveal his true identity.
“You have to understand, I wrote that song when I was very young and knocking about west Texas as a musician,” he said. “These days, I have a family and respected position. I’m not sure how my current employer would like it if they knew I once played in a polka band.”
So what inspired the young man to write such a... well... such a dumb song?
“Somewhere I heard that Fredericksburg was promoting itself as the Polka Capital of Texas,” he said. “I thought it a shame the Polka Capital didn’t have its own song. So I took it upon myself to write one. Problem was, I only had one semester of German in school, so I had come up with a way to convince people I could speak the language.”
Reading names out of the phone book was his logical conclusion.
“I needed a snappy ending, and luckily when I hit the ‘Ws’ I saw ‘WalMart.’ There was a bit of discussion at the time about allowing the big chain store into Fredericksburg, so I inserted that as the last name. I guess it’s not so funny anymore.”
I hesitated. I distinctly heard Rex use the plural “songs.”
“Yes, I have others,” he admitted. “They all tend to address weird subjects. I have songs about armadillos, ground hogs, and edible parts of livestock. I can’t help it. They start out as love songs, but I always end up singing about body parts.”
Rex also has a thing for consumer products.
“My songs all contain references to brands such as M&M candies, Jello brand gelatin, and Thunderbird wine,” he said. “I don’t know why. Sometimes they just rhyme. Like when I needed a word to rhyme with ‘y’all,’ I used ‘Pepto Bismal.’”
We can’t say where you can hear “Rex” perform. Like all mediocre musicians, he is working on a CD of his tunes. But watch (watch out?) for him. He pops up at jam sessions, nursing homes, and sometimes, even on your radio.
Fredericksburg Phone Book Polka
Copyright April 1, 1987 by “Rex”
I stopped at a town in Texas
To have a look around
Opened up that phone book
Surprised at what I found
I thought I was back in Munich
As I read through those names
They sounded like a polka
I could hear those trumpets play
Bierschwale, Crenwelge, Dietz, Duecker, Deike
Ellebracht, Feuge, and Fritz
Gueistweidt, Gellerman, Hartmann, Hohmann,
Hoffman, Immel, and Itz
Keller, Klaerner, Kleinseik, Krauskopf, Kneese
Neffendorf, Klein, and Knopp
Langerhans, Langehennig, Leifeste, Lochte,
Luckenbach, Luedke, and Lott!
Soon it was time to leave,
and as I drove away
I knew that town of Fredericksburg
Would call me back someday
Ottmers, Petermann, Fenner & Beans, man
Frantzen, Kaderli, & Klier
Sagabiel, Sultemeier, Schneider, Schroeder,
Schuch and Schmidt and Schweer
Weinheimer, Wehmeier, Wunderlich, Weidenfeller,
Welgehausen, Woerner, and Wallace
Wahl, Walker, Wallendorf
Zimmerman, Zenner, und Das Ist Alles!