Infinite Accordion explores and celebrates the incredible diversity of the accordion.
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Below are eleven songs from the Infinite Accordion playlist that get me moving. Which songs do it for you?
Check out Infinite Accordion to hear these and over 1,200 songs with accordion from all over the world.
Don Omar – Danza Kuduro ft. Lucenzo
Music starts around 0:37.
La Pegatina – La Voisine
Gustavo Lima – Balada Boa
Gogol Bordello – Start Wearing Purple
Gotan Project – Mi Confesion
Jarabe de Palo – Yin Yang
Tref – Famine
Bajofondo – Pa’ Bailar
Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers – All Night Long
Start at 0:12 to skip the feedback at the beginning.
DelaDap – Crazy Swing
Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina – Stereo Love
If you or your friends still think that accordions are only good for playing polkas, below is a very brief sampling of the latest additions to the Infinite Accordion playlist that should clear things up. In all, I added over 170 new songs from over 80 international artists.
Check out Infinite Accordion to hear these and many other great songs with accordion from all over the world.
Michel Teló – Bará Berê
Cucu Diamantes – Más Fuerte
Mahala Raï Banda – Balkan Reggae (Manasseh Mix)
Wintergatan – Sommarfågel
Nahkarouska – Värttinä
Pad Brapad – Ben Hora
Poi Dog Pondering – Living with the Dreaming Body
Hot Club of Detroit – Noto Swing
Meatdraw – We’re Not All Gonna Die
Pee Wee King – Ten Gallon Boogie
Lila Downs – Cucurrucucú Paloma
Shakira – La Tortura
El Gran Silencio – Chuntaro Style
Donatan-Cleo – My Słowianie (PG-13 video starts around 0:46)
Although the main goal of Infinite Accordion is exploring the accordion’s global influence on modern and traditional music, I particularly enjoy discovering that artists I already know have songs with accordion in them. Here’s a list of some of my favorites.
The Beach Boys – Wouldn’t it Be Nice
If you’re not listening for it, it’s easy to overlook the accordion in this song. Frank Marocco used a triple bellows shake to get the sound Brian Wilson wanted. The accordion starts around 0:08.
The Beatles – We Can Work it Out
Many people don’t know that John Lennon played accordion. The accordion starts almost immediately and can be heard pretty clearly throughout.
Billy Joel – The Piano Man
I’ve been listening for accordions in songs for so long that they usually jump out at me, but The Piano Man eluded me despite dozens of listens. I think the harmonica at the beginning threw me off the scent. I haven’t found many songs that have both a harmonica and accordion, and fewer that do it well. In my opinion, The Piano Man uses both appropriately. The accordion comes in around 0:56.
Bruce Springsteen – O Mary Don’t You Weep
Danny Federici played accordion for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band for over thirty years, perhaps most famously on “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).” I prefer the energy of “O’ Mary Don’t You Weep,” which is also easy and fun to play to if you have an accordion.
I debated between including a link to the studio version in which you can hear the accordion better throughout (starting around 1:16) or a live version from London in 2006 (I think) in which you can actually see Danny Federici playing a solo (at 2:03), a year after being diagnosed with the cancer that would take his life in 2008. I decided to include both and let you choose for yourself.
Fun. – Carry On
I’m still not sure if it’s sampled or genuine, but there’s definitely an accordion of some sort starting around 2:06. As their earlier song, “Be Calm,” features an accordion more prominently, I think it’s genuine. If anyone knows one way or the other, please let me know.
Grace Jones – I’ve Seen that Face Before (Libertango)
Although it’s pretty well known that Grace Jones plays accordion, I like how cool she looks playing it in her video. She starts to play around 1:00.
Kinks – Alcohol
Although not their biggest hit by a longshot, “Alcohol” is still a wonderful song with clever lyrics and accordion accompaniment. The accordion starts around 0:33.
Nirvana – Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam
This is from Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance in 1993. Please let me know if there are other Nirvana songs that also include the accordion. The accordion starts around 0:58.
R.E.M. – You Are the Everything
This one’s harder to miss as the accordion is pretty dominant throughout the song, but mostly just used for chords. It starts around 0:10.
The Rolling Stones – Back Street Girl
The accordion starts around 0:38 and I love how well it integrates with the rest of the arrangement.
Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere
David Byrne and Talking Heads used accordions quite a bit, but this is probably their most popular song with one. Some others include “Totally Nude,” “Radio Head,” and David Byrne’s “Call of the Wild.” The accordion starts around 0:37.
Tom Waits – Cold Cold Ground
I don’t know how popular Tom Waits is outside the U.S., but he’s been a big part of the alternative music scene here for over thirty years. I really like how he uses the accordion in “Cold Cold Ground” to help establish the mood of the song. The accordion starts around 0:08.
So, those are some of my favorites. What popular artists do you like who have included an accordion into one (or more) of their songs?
Some years ago I was turned onto the Swedish group, Detektivbyrån, who at the time sounded a lot like Yann Tiersen (of French movie “Amelie” fame). Over time their arrangements became steadily fuller, more complex, and inventive. They’ve now reformed as Wintergatan and are as clever and fun to listen to (and watch) as ever.
Here are a couple videos they put out to promote their debut album, which released this Spring. The second doesn’t have an accordion in it, but rather a melodica, which is close enough for me, especially since the song and video are so wonderful.
Someone sent this to me a few months back. It’s a scene from Holy Motors (France 2012). The scene is so bizarre, but so wonderful, that I had to see the movie, which was also bizarre and wonderful.
For what it’s worth, the song is a cover of R.L. Burnside’s “Let My Baby Ride.”
Here’s a video of nine-year-old phenom, Yeime Arrieta Ramos, taking on sexist stereotypes, and winning:
In 2004 my marriage was falling apart and I was depressed. With little to look forward to I started to think about what made me happy. Near the top of the list I put “listening to and playing music.” So I decided to take up a musical instrument. I chose the guitar, piano (which I had played a bit in the past), and for reasons I still don’t understand, the accordion.
Over the next month or so I hopped between the three instruments, but kept coming back to the accordion until that’s all I wanted to play. It seemed the accordion was the instrument that best allowed me to express myself musically, whether I was happy or sad, whimsical or serious.
When I told my friends that I had taken up the accordion almost all just assumed I was into polka. I found myself continually informing people of the tremendous variety of musical genres that regularly include the accordion. I then started to put together a few accordion mixes that I thought would open their eyes (or ears, as the case may be) to its prevalence in music from all over the world.
Ten years later as I continue to seek out songs for the station, I am still surprised and delighted to see just how far the accordion influence extends. It is this surprise and delight that I most want to share with listeners of Infinite Accordion.