Mollie B lands original song in ‘The Mule’; Clint Eastwood requested polka from Spring Grove native

By : 
Jordan Gerard

Polka party host and musician Mollie B has many Spring Grove, regional and national fans, and also one movie star fan by the name of Clint Eastwood.

Eastwood, who watches the Mollie B Polka Party every Saturday night with his girlfriend at home, who is a big fan of her polkas, reached out and asked Busta to write a polka for his new film, “The Mule.”

According to Busta’s band website, www.squeezeboxband.com, the opportunity happened in April 2018, when Warner Brother’s Producer Tim Moore contacted Busta and told her they were preparing for a production for a new movie. 

The director of the movie specifically asked them to contact Mollie B and book her band (SqueezeBox) for a scene in the movie. Moore even checked Busta’s schedule online to see when she would be available for filming.

The producer told her, “Oh ... and the director is also starring in the movie ... oh ... and it’s Clint Eastwood.”

Busta said she was “honored and humbled to know that Clint Eastwood, who has been around great talent, appreciates my talent, enough so that he wanted me in his newest movie.”

“I wrote four polkas in the hopes one would work,” she said. “Ted wrote two – while traveling down the road and late at night at the hotel.”

Her husband, Ted Lange, added a verse (melody, lyrics and chords) to the song, “A Day to Say Thank You,” which is the song Eastwood chose for the movie.

The process of the song making it into the movie comes from putting her best foot forward, Busta said. 

“That has gotten me to where I am. And the final process after years of hard work and dedication was the easy part,” she added.

After that, things happened very fast, including a trip to Europe for Busta and Lange, shows for SqueezeBox, a 12-day Hawaiian performance cruise and finally, less than 24 hours to reshuffle to Atlanta for the filming.

They drove to Atlanta in Lange’s Sprinter, and Busta practiced trumpet when she could on the road. They met their band members in Atlanta and headed to the filming location.

Even before Eastwood chose the song, the band rehearsed and refined their songs sent to Eastwood. 

However, he did not only want the song in the movie, but Busta, her band and the dancers on the TV show as well.

The scene was filmed live in Jonesboro, Georgia (south of Atlanta) at an active Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post that Eastwood’s character reopens. 

Tylenol got Busta through the day, as a result of a sore throat and aches all over and would later be diagnosed as strep throat.

“Morning came and my throat and body were aching. But away we went and I did everything I could to mask my pain all day,” she said. “Thanks to my mom and Kim Stahl, I had Tylenol available, which definitely helped.”

The filming location was under tight security, dressing rooms were in trailers – every band member had their own, Busta said. Food was catered in from California, make-up and hair were touched up by professionals and costumes were chosen and approved by the head costume designer.

A group of about 50 or more Mollie B dancers – true “Mollie B fans” – showed off their dance moves in the scene. Local veterans and Lange’s parents, Don (an Army veteran) and Betty.

Also dancing in the scene were Busta’s parents, Jim and Mary Lou. They also had the chance to meet Eastwood.

Eastwood even changed the scene so he could dance with Busta, which was a goal he had for the movie. As director and star in the movie, Eastwood said he envisioned having Busta and her band perform.

In the scene, Busta plays piano, sings, exits the stage and dances with Eastwood. 

Though the entire scene is only about a minute and 40 seconds long, Busta does get to say a few lines shortly after the dancing. The scene was completed in a single day.

For fans to dance in the movie, Busta reached out to people who danced on the show and who fit the casting requirements. 

Producers also approved a second song for the movie, “It’s Party Time.”

On a lunch break, Busta was invited to sit next to Eastwood at the table. Lange and the Bustas also joined in later.

“We had a ‘normal’ conversation about jazz artists, tenor sax players and music in general,” she said.

By the end of the day, the film crew had Mollie B shirts on and enjoyed the polka party afterward.

Clips from the scene were also used in country music star Toby Keith’s new music video, “Don’t Let the Old Man In,” which was written for the movie’s soundtrack.

The movie was released Dec. 14, 2018 and premiered in Westwood, California. Busta and Lange were able to attend the premiere. At the premiere, they sat seats away from Eastwood, his family, actress Diane Wiest, Toby Keith, Tim Moor and several crew members.

Later, they enjoyed the post-premiere party with many celebrities from the film and Eastwood’s girlfriend, Kristina, who is 100 percent Czech descent (which is also the heritage of the Busta family). 

It does have an R rating, and Spring Grove Cinema will show the movie Jan. 18-23. 

After filming was done, they had very little contact with the studio, as it was not needed. Lange did record Busta saying a few lines for the scene and worked with the music mix.

Busta said it’s a little known fact that Eastwood knows music very well. The music studio at Warner Brothers studios is Eastwood Studios. He also plays piano and used to play the saxophone. In addition, he composes and those songs usually play in his movies.

About the song, Busta says she wrote it while traveling on I-90 west to South Dakota.

“I wrote the music out in numbers in my notes on my iPhone,” Busta said. “The lyrics were also written at that time. And somehow they stuck.”

She translated it to paper a day later at 5 a.m. while eating breakfast at a hotel before a show in Arcadia, Iowa.

Later, Lange added the verse while on a short break from practice in her parent’s garage.

“If you talk to my elementary music teacher, Karen Bristle; my piano teacher, Kathy Abrahamson; or my parents, Jim and Mary Lou Busta, they will tell you that I wrote songs as a kid, but after the age of 10, I kind of stopped,” Busta wrote in a Facebook post.

However, when she learned to play the button box, she wanted a song that featured her brother, Chad Busta on drums and herself on button box.

She wrote a song called, “Out the Window.” SqueezeBox recorded the song in 2009 with Dave Burner and Lange, after performing it on the Big Joe Polka Show, which airs nationally.

Previously, she wrote a song for her father’s Jim Busta Band and recorded that while in college. 

Busta said given the chance to work with more movies, she would welcome it, but does not expect it.

“It has exposed me to a new audience, which is very neat and a good thing; however, what that will lead to is yet to be determined,” she said. 

She adds that she had “no airs” about working with Eastwood. Busta describes him as a “wise, kind, gentle, knowledgeable man that is 88 years old.”

“My two experiences of spending time with Clint Eastwood (the filming and premiere) were simply good, enjoyable experiences,” she said.