Early in my research for this project, I came across the cover art for a very unusual song: The Hippopotamus Polka. Rumor dictates that the song was composed in the mid-1800's after the musician was inspired by England's first hippo in modern times.
The hippo's name was Obaysch, and he caused quite the stir. People flocked to the London zoo to see this strangely proportioned animal. All the excitement is said to have spawned a trade in hippo memorabilia. Obaysch could very well be the reason this project even exists if the modern awe of hippos could be traced back to this single animal. All the more reason to find this song, right?
So back to the song. I hunted everywhere online for a copy of the sheet music or a recording of the song but came up empty-handed. Only the cover art, which had made its way onto a number of hippo merchandise, was all I ever came across. Not that the cover art isn't wonderful in its own right, but I just had to hear the song that accompanied this dancing hippo, so stately looking in his tails.
As the project progressed, the curiosity continued to eat away at me. Every time I met someone new in the hippo group, I asked about the song. The few who were familiar with it always gave the same response: they've never had any luck tracking down a copy, despite many failed attempts.
Fast-forward a year later from when this all began, and I finally have a copy of the sheet music, thanks to some kind hippo folks in Kansas. As soon as I received a copy, I took it over to my Aunt Gayle, the musical guru. After a couple minutes of studying the curious-looking sheet music, she tested out a few chords.
At last! As she continued to hammer out the tune, I could already imagine the song playing in my film. It might not be the most notable composition, and there's probably a reason no one's ever heard the song, but for me it was a sweet, sweet sound.
Without further ado, I gladly present a sneak peak of the Hippopotamus Polka: