Late in 1990, I was barely employed and pretty worried about that and all kinds of other things. All the anxiety coalesced into “Scary Christmas Polka,” which I released as a solo performance on that year’s Christmas Greeting Tape, distributed to friends and family.

I was playing with a band called the Cowlix in those days and our repertoire, along with classic country and tunes by X, Neil Young and Nick Lowe, included a dollop of folk dances, among them a few polkas. Hence this musical setting.

Yet the Cowlix never played this polka. Instead, the version here was recorded five years later by another band, which comprised three-fifths of the Cowlix: Gretchen Schaefer on bass, Jonathan Nichols-Pethick on drums, and yours truly singing and operating the accordion. We were the Boarders, and the recording was made during a rehearsal as the trio prepared for a December gig at the Free Street Taverna in Portland, Maine. (See Gretchen’s poster for that gig below.)

In 1995, a song like this seemed an appropriately ironic ornament to hang on the tree of the American consumerist Christmas. I can’t imagine, though, what kind of song would serve the same function in the circumstances of 2021.

The Boarders perform “Scary Christmas Polka” in December 1995. “Scary Christmas Polka” copyright © 2010 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved.  Hear it below, buy it on Bandcamp!


Scary Christmas Polka