Life makes more sense with pop music.
Life makes more sense with pop music. That’s why I’ve gone back, year by year, and chronicled the song that meant the most to me then. This song may not have been released that year, it may not have been big that year, but it was relevant to me in a personal way that defines that period of my life.
Also, I didn’t do too much research to make sure I got these years right. This is my life, after all, and if I confuse 1998 with 1999, well, that’s my right.
2009: “The Tritsch-Tratsch Polka” by Johann Strauss
It’s not easy to be a fan of classical music. No one wants to come across as one of those self-righteous classical music snobs. You know the types. They know everything there is to know about all the composers and make you feel ignorant if you mention that you like such-and-such concerto because they know more about it than you do.
But I’ve always enjoyed classical music, and I’m not afraid to say that I don’t know enough about it. Where does one begin? Take Mozart’s piano concertos. There are twenty-seven of them. You could spend a year, easy, just becoming familiar with them, but then you have neglected all of his operas, his sonatas, his masses, and his symphonies, for crying out loud. Tom Waits’ output intimidates me, so what chance do I have keeping Vivaldi and Handel straight? (And I really do get those two confused. One did the seasons, the other did Water Music, correct? Why is this so difficult?)
Renee and I are patrons of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and we see all the concerts we can. I read up on the composers and pieces, and write emails to Julie, my sister-in-law, who knows the answers to all of our questions but doesn’t make us feel dumb for asking. I frequently go to the library before a concert and check out Cds of the program and bring them home and listen to them so that I’m ready for the performance. I sit there intently, headphones on, trying to get to the bottom of what I’m hearing, with little education on the topic other than what I have read and researched.
Music should not be this much work, of course. Music is supposed to be refreshing and surprising and fun, and that’s exactly what Strauss’ “Tritsch Tratsch Polka” is. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had listening to classical music, and I first heard it not at the library or the concert hall, but on my son’s Baby Einstein Cd. It was one of the first things we shared as a family—a gift from the Waltz King himself—and we’d put it on in the mornings and dance around his nursery.
“The Tritsch Tratsch Polka” is more than just a catchy tune. It’s more than the perfect song to listen to when you are playing with your newborn. What it is is an ebullient evocation of the joys of fatherhood, and I don’t know how I lived without it.