Jan 29 2017

Accordion Crimes



I saw it in a charity shop. It was a beautiful unnatural thing to find in a Lancaster charity shop

and inside its battered grey case it shimmered with mother of pearl like a trapped butterfly.  It was sixty pounds which was too much at that time for me to spend. I looked at it again then left the charity shop. Nothing else seemed interesting anymore.

I kept thinking about the accordion. I knew it would soon be gone. I went to a pub and had a  gin and thought about the accordion again. The answer was suddenly obvious. I should just buy the accordion!


I went back. Someone else was looking at the accordion whilst speaking into a mobile phone. I felt sick. It was mine.  I went to the counter and asked to buy the accordion and staggered home with a huge unexpected weight around my neck along with  excitement  and fear.


I love accordions. Alway have. That discordant perfection, the animalistic wailing combined with that mesmerising chanting  Klezmar beat. The history, the beauty. The potential. The way accordions bluster their mouthy way through history, unrefined, refined, their handles held in the hands of beggars and buskers, anarchist, punks and songwriters, the way they can change from a tragic long solo squeal  to a Bordello opera in seconds and in the hands of one person in a theatre or on a street corner.

The Tiger Lillies use accordions in rambunctious frenzies that suddenly turn into personal pain and extended misery . One note on an accordion can last forever. I am not a dancer and the accordion makes me want to dance to a heritage I do not have but I think I must, the way I need to move, to bellow discordantly  yet joyfully. The accordion is techno music and tribal sounds, classical, chaotic, and historic.


‘I will be able to learn this’, I say the next day, picking it up and wincing due to the fucked up neck from taking it home. I look at it.





I struggled with the kazoo, my recorder dripped tears,frustration,  spit and snot, I gave up on the guitar ( too small fingers) and the ukulele ( just a bit tricky) and the drum kit from the car boot sale  (three quid as they wanted to leave without it) is in the attic.


But the accordion despite the charmingly professional ease of the Hungarian busker is a bastard.


I am dyspraxic. I should not have bought it. It was pretty and i was aware of the sounds it COULD make  so I did.


The accordion is all instruments in one neck hurting twist. I have bought a professional Scandelli which has more chords than usual. So without looking looking down I need to play piano, use the fifty thousand chords and do that see sawing thing bellow ALL AT THE SAME TIME WHILST PRODUCING A SONG. Some bastards even sing. And some people do this in high streets for loose change which is pretty much the same as being the CEO of a major company  working on the street and having 20 pence randomly thrown at them by a harassed mother because their kid approved of  the data.


I will learn it on youtube.


I didn’t learn it on youtube. I tried but nobody can possibly ever learn it on youtube.

So I  kept my lovely accordion closed tight in the box it came in to keep it safe.

Now I keep the box open with a novelty light to stop the hinge shutting. I wipe the dust off with a sense of utter shame.


A few months ago I went to a folk festival in Ulverston. People quietly came into a local pub, shyly clutching their various instruments. All these single various people without any words spoken, just a few nods, transformed into one piece of music in some sort of musical alchemy. There was an accordion there. The accordion gently harmonised itself into a background part of a folk music ballad. Its raucous murderous shriek ( when I try to play it) gentrified  itself into a quiet forlorn backdrop redolent with history and regret.

I thought of my dust covered accordion.


It is a crime to keep it as a pet. My pretty little object was desperate to be in the hands of someone who could treat it right, make it soar, make it sing, transform it from a novelty item in a corner to an instrument of beauty.

But if I let go of it, I will never get it back. I dust it and feel sick with guilt but if I sell it,  I will never have another accordion and all the potentiality and wonder that now resides in a corner of the living room.


But it’s a crime that it doesn’t sing anymore.


IMG_20170129_172935557I wipe the dust off and show it as a pet.

Then I wipe the dust off and show it as a pet.


It is a beautiful object that twinkles at me that I am a failure.

I wipe the dust off and show it as a pet.