Colombia, Multiculturality, Music, My life

Welcome to hell, here’s your accordion

Most Americans have a view of accordions shaped no doubt by Lawrence Welk and average polka bands. Gary Larson captured the attitude perfectly in this cartoon:

I, however, associate the accordion with sweet, melancholy music like Mary Black’s No Frontiers. It adds a perfect touch to this song:

In my childhood, most of the accordion music I heard was vallenatos. Some were very catchy, like El Mochuelo. I translated this on my Xanga blog a couple of years ago. (My wife Alicia used to sing choruses for these guys, but she didn’t on this song).

Today on a whim, I looked for Bach on accordion and found this amazing and perfect rendition of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor:

And on the other extreme of the sophistication spectrum, guys my age will remember Weird Al and Another One Rides the Bus:





22 thoughts on “Welcome to hell, here’s your accordion

  1. polka. yes. that’s how I think of accordions. They are an interesting idea. They just don’t quite translate somehow. But I liked your examples. Also I got your email last night. Sorry. 😦

  2. I’ve always enjoyed accordion music. 🙂 I have a friend who plays.
    Great Larson cartoon! 😀 I bet they have kazoos in Hell, too! 😉
    Thanks for sharing the music. I listened to Mary Black…oh, so lovely!!! I will have to save the rest until late tonight…I can listen to them then.
    Weird Al wrecked a lot of songs for me! Ha! 😀 I find his versions taking over and the original song lyrics escape me! 😉
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    • My mom had an accordion that she played for church when we lived in the jungle in the early 60s. I think that’s why my first associations were positive.

      I’m sure you’ve heard Eat It. I always liked it better than the original.

  3. The genre you left out, and this is important, is zydeco, which, strangely, is a corruption of the French words les haricots. Vive cajun soul, vive Clifton Chenier.

    • There are a lot of low-quality vallenatos, but there are some great ones, too. Alicia and her sister used to record choruses for Binomio de Oro, Otto Serge, and other famous Colombian bands.

  4. I’ve been known to post the occassional accordion bliss. it’s like wierd or something as it isn’t my favorite instrument but there is a magic weilded by a fine player and tune.

  5. digitalgranny says:

    I have never been a fan of accordion music. But then I am a janis Joplin fan so a lot of people would say I have no ear for music at all.

  6. i haven’t listened to much accordian music however, there was a rendition of Rainbow Song that was done by an accordion I once heard a decade ago and I have been looking for one like it ever since. Whatever other accordian compositions I’ve listened to (again, few) I have found pleasant to my ears.

    • I don’t know Rainbow Song and couldn’t find it online.

      I’ve heard plenty of bad accordion music, but it’s perfect when it adds that special touch in a melancholy tango or a lively vallenato.

  7. I can’r think of an instrument that I absolutely can’t stand. Now, I can’t listen to some of them for a long time! I like bagpipes, but a few minutes of that goes a long way! Long ago, we went to the military tattoo in Scotland and I thought I was gonna die from exposure—to the cold AND the music!

  8. thoroughly enjoyed this post. i adore accordion music. but in small doses. hahaha. used to watch laurence welk with my great grandmother. hehe. forgot far i’m going to go look up some more!

    doesn’t carlos vives use accordion music — i like it in various styles of south american music, as well as european — depends though. think it’s vallenato (? not sure)

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