Was reading an article online…in defense of accordions. A writer in San Francisco touched upon the obvious….like how hard it was to take Myron Floren of the Lawrence Welk show seriously in his tangerine colored leisure suit. And the words cheesy, corny, schlock, the sound of polka…associated with this instrument. The writer also described a performance he had been privileged to observe, in a quirky art space in Ocean Beach. A variety show performed by sex workers (strippers, prostitutes, phone operators). A chunky phone girl played Fat Bottom Girls with enthusiasm and energy and skill (on the accordion). He said he was the only straight male in that packed, sweaty audience. Having read his essay, I am approaching the two Easter songs I’m learning on my 12 bass, one secular and one sacred. I’ve been practicing Peter Cottontail and I Love to Tell the Story.
Musical instruments on this property: two acoustic pianos. The one in the barn has survived dust, mice, and fifty below temps. Electronic keyboard. Two piano accordions, one a ladies size with mediocre tone, and a beautiful sounding 12 bass. Button accordion that plays in C and G. Two mini button accordions. Standard drum set. One hundred year old bass drum from the community band. A bass horn that looks like a Sousa phone but has another name. It’s missing a mouthpiece. E-flat melophone shaped like a French horn but it has valves, not keys. 3 clarinets, one Albert system. A collection of trumpets including one played by my grandfather for silent movies. A boehm flute. Violin that belonged to my grandmother. My dad refinished it once and it’s due for another refinishing. Soprano and bass recorders. Some odd Czechoslovakian flute. Pan-flutes, a gift from my uncle. An Egyptian drum I gave my brother for Christmas. Two melodicas. I quit playing them because too many people asked, “What do you call that instrument?” Guitar got from Green stamps (remember those?). My grandmother’s ukulele. A tonette or two. Bucket of basic rhythm instruments such as tambourine, maracas, castanets, sleigh bells. Wind chimes. I’m sure I’m forgetting something….oh yes…the old washtub bass……
Here are the lyrics to a song I remember from my childhood…and an old 78 rpm record.
A Capital Ship
(Charles Edward Carryl)
A capital ship for an ocean trip
Was the “Walloping Window Blind”
No wind that blew dismayed her crew
Or troubled the captain’s mind
The man at the wheel was made to feel
Contempt for the wildest blow-ow-ow
Tho’ it oft appeared when the gale had cleared
That he’d been in his bunk below
So, blow ye winds, heigh-ho
A-roving I will go
I’ll stay no more on England’s shore
So let the music play-ay-ay
I’m off for the morning train
To cross the raging main
I’m off to my love with a boxing glove
10,000 miles away
My mom liked to remind me when I played this song that my dad had been a sailor. I didn’t understand the words. Now, with Google and instant communications I’ve learned these nonsense words were written by an American poet/stockbroker. But the song appears in lists of tunes associated with Irish culture and it does have a very “Irish” sound to it. I’ve been practicing Molly Malone on my accordion and I very much would like to add A Capital Ship to my repertoire.
I want to buy a 12 bass accordion. I’m not sure why I want it. A friend has said if I get one, she and I can play cowboy songs.
The problem is this. I want a green accordion, but green instruments aren’t available in 12 bass models. We would be limited to the repertoire I could play on an 8 bass green accordion.
I have thought and thought and have come up with a solution. I will buy a 12 bass in whatever color I can find, and get a green accordion as a supplement.