He watched Lawrence Welk -- and liked it

Columnist Dan Conradt thinks a person can be a fan of Led Zepplin and Welk in one lifetime.

Dan Conradt column sig

If I’d stopped to think about what I was doing, I might not have done it. Or at least I would have closed the shades.

It’s the curse of the image-conscious.

“That brings back some memories,” Carla said as she walked through the living room. “My grandma used to watch that show every Saturday night.” Mine, too.

It’s time to make a confession: I spent a Saturday night watching Lawrence Welk. On purpose.

I’d channel-surfed past a college football game, the nightly news and a movie that centered around stuff exploding, and nothing caught my attention. Somewhere past a bawdy sitcom and an infomercial about a carving knife that could cut through a 2-by-4 I found the accordion guy doing something impossible with “Beer Barrel Polka." If he did the same thing with an electric guitar he’d have a zillion followers on social media, and to my knowledge the accordion guy never trashed a hotel room after a concert.


And, yes, it brought back a flood of memories … three young brothers sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on an uncomfortable couch in grandma’s living room more than 50 years ago while that same accordion guy played that same song. Three young brothers giggling at the lameness of the show, and grandma shushing us without losing her smile.

The accordion guy finished his polka with a flourish and the studio audience applauded politely; grandma used to applaud the same way from her easy chair.

And she spent a lot of time dabbing her eyes with a Kleenex.

I was going to check the score of the football game when Bobby and Cissy came on and danced to something with a spicy merengue beat. Carla would enjoy it if I was willing to go dancing, but I dance like someone suffering muscle spasms. Now, if I could only dance like Bobby Burgess.

Lawrence Welk made a pitch for Geritol, then introduced the piano lady. She had a tower of blond hair, a dazzling smile and a jacket that blazed with rhinestones. Her hands flew across the keyboard in a blur. Grandma used to love her.

The Lennon Sisters did something spectacular with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and my toes started tapping mid-song. At first I tried to stop them, but I eventually gave up.

There wasn’t one explosion or car chase or R-rated comment for the entire hour. It was just … nice.

I finally understood why grandma was smiling, and I’ve come to the realization that it’s possible to be a fan of Led Zeppelin and Lawrence Welk at the same time. Go figure.


Besides, the guys in the orchestra wore burnt orange leisure suits, and I have one just like it in my closet. Maybe I’ll see if it still fits and wear it during next week’s show. And I’m going to leave the shades open.

Until then: Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn.

Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.

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