COMMENTS:  He could have sub-titled this The Little Ego Polka.  It is the story of a loser and social misfit with but one special thing on which he prides himself.  "Don't sit on my Jimmy Shands unless you want to wind up black and blue."  This is the polite but firm warning of a man anxious to keep patrons at a party from abusing his collection of 1930s and 40s vintage 78 rpm polka records. 

For one thing, this is actually a pretty hot jam.  He makes a good strong
midtempo beat to which you could build up a good drunken off center dance
momentum.  The independently credible tune bounces along on the top with a
self-conscious and directly conflicting stately pride. 

The eccentric instrumental palette also paints quite a colorful picture.  The accordian and Irish fiddle parts will pick you up and spin you around.  Repeated listenings will reveal further rewards from all the little obscure instrumental contributions.  What the hell is a "crumhorn" exactly?

There is a great deal of subtle psychological nuance here (as in many Thompson songs) that will slip up on you.  In this case the effect is just hilarious,  watching this guy trying to act like a stately gentleman around a bunch of drunks.  The best example of his burdened but still functioning pride is his polite re-direction of some drunk fat chick about to do inestimable damage to his ego by plopping her big butt down on his shellac.

The first time I heard this song was when Thompson played it live in Bloomington, Indiana soon after it came out.  This song seemed to be the most fun part of his set for him.  He turned it into a singalong, and I won't soon forget how much boyish pleasure he took in getting an audience of American midwesterners in the 1990s to sing a song about some 60-year-old English
polka records.

Finally, this song makes no less than five picks on this list from Thompson's Rumor and Sigh album.  Why haven't you bought it yet?


DVD Review: Tony Palmer's Film of Fairport Convention & Matthews Southern Comfort


Sir Jimmy Shand

polka king Jimmy Shand

Shand family, 1908

Jimmy Shand playing fiddle


Holla Back!

Richard Thompson

Music Sustains the Soul

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