Accordion, Instrument of the Gods Music

Your Suggestions for My Accordion Repertoire, Please

Joey plays accordion for Wendy at Kickass Karaoke.
Me and Wendy at Kickass Karaoke at the Rivoli

It’s time for me to freshen up my accordion repertoire! It’s been far too long since I’ve added songs to it, so I’m looking around for ideas of songs to cover from my MP3 collection, internet and regular radio, the song selection at Kickass Karaoke and you! If you’ve got suggestions as to what I should cover, let me know in the comments.

Some points to give you a general idea of what I’m looking for:

  • Cheese is okay. I’m not going to turn up my nose at a song because it’s bubble-gum pop aimed squarely at the “hanging out at H&M in the mall for hours” demographic or because it’s a staple of those “EZ Rock” stations. Sometimes — as with Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time they translate very well into accordion numbers.
  • Forget that I play accordion. It’s amazing how many people say “I didn’t know that that song could be played on accordion. As long as the song was written using the notes of the conventional even-tempered scale (which should account for 99% of the music you hear on mainstream North American radio), it can be played on any melodic instrument you can find at most music stores, including the accordion. I get a lot of mileage out of AC/DC numbers, and they wouldn’t be considered an accordion band (except by me).
  • I’m looking for a mix of current and old. Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy is a likely candidate, as is Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.

I’m planning to record my perfomances of these songs as videos and post them on this blog, so choose wisely!

18 replies on “Your Suggestions for My Accordion Repertoire, Please”

I’ve wondered lately what “Hey Hey, My My” would sound like on the accordion. A worth experiment?

IMHO “Separate Ways” has a even higher Cheese Factor(tm) for a Journey song.

The Doors – The Wasp (“..the negros in the forest, brightly feathered…)

Heart – Barracuda (honestly, is it possible to make the intro riff sound as positively awesome on the accordion?)

Whitesnake – Fool for your loving (mega-cheese. bonus points if you’re able to play your instrument on the floor like Steve Vai did with his guitar in the video)

I’m not really up to par with “modern” stuff, although guys singing Shakira songs always crack me up. Sadly not enough “he can do that with an accordion” stuff in the pop charts anymore…

Off the top of my head:

* The Green Hornet Theme

* Brian Wilson – “Roll Plymouth Rock”

* The Beatles – “I Want You/She’s So Heavy”

* The Residents – “Rest Aria”

* Duke Ellington – “Caravan”

* The Velvet Underground – “Sister Ray”

* Kurt Weill – Threepenny Opera Overture

* Artie Shaw – “Nightmare”

If you can pull off something like Devo’s cover of “Satisfaction”, that is, the type you “can’t get no” of, you’d pretty much be set to rule the world.

“Seven Nation Army” by White Stripes is like “Smoke On The Water” or “Stairway To Heaven” these days – an instantly recognizable riff that’s one of the first every wannabe rock star learns.

Completely brilliant would be learning “Stairway to Gilligan” – an incredibly obscure bootleg comedy track that takes Led Zeppelin’s overblown ballad and puts the lyrics to the theme song from Gilligan’s Island over it. Works FAR better than you’d ever expect.

Pardon the editorializing.

A couple of offbeat possibilities:

Laurie Anderson – “O Superman”. I think the accordion would be perfect for this, and I bet you don’t have anything like it in your repertoire already (admittedly there is probably a reason for that).

Big Country – “In a Big Country”. They made electric guitars sound like bagpipes, and given the similarity between how bagpipes and accordions work…

Less offbeat:

Frank Sinatra and others (recorded by) – “Strangers in the Night”. An old standard that I think would be very accordion-friendly.

Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer”. I think the accordion could be excellent for this.

“Rhythym-a-ning,” by Thelonius Monk. “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” James Brown. “Red Barchetta,” Rush. “Safety Dance,” Men Without Hats. “When I’m Cleaning Windows,” George Formby.

In the “I didn’t know that that song could be played on accordion” category:
Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

Here are a couple to mull over:

House of the Rising sun

“If I had a million dollars” — Barenaked Ladies

“Under the Bridge” — Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Groove is in the Heart” — De lite

“Love Shack” — B-52s

“Bandages” — Hot Hot Heat

anything Aerosmith but “Amazing” “Dude Looks like a Lady” or “Love in an Elevator” might be good.

Oh and look up “The Baby Elephant Walk” you can find a sample of it here

The first time I heard “Crazy Bitch” by Buck Cherry, I thought what a great song…it’s a shame there’s no accordion in it. Maybe you could do something about that! Also, as an accordion player myself (no really, I’m admitting to it) I get a lot of mileage out of old Pogues songs, as well as “Tweeter and the Monkeyman”

I second “Take Me Out” and “Safety Dance” — those would be a lot of fun.

Sufjan Stevens “Chicago”

Free “Alright Now”

Jane’s Addiction “Been Caught Stealing”

Gnarls Barkley “Crazy”

Neil Young “Cinamon Girl”

Public Enemy “Fight The Power” (you could use the Barenaked Ladies’ version of the lyrics if you need to clean it up)

Sarah Harmer “Basement Apartment”

Portishead “Sour Times”

There are lots of kids’ songs that would be great (e.g. “Itsy Bitsy Spider”)

Smashing Pumpkins “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”

Just about any Jimi Hendrix song

Soundgarden “Outshined” or “Spoonman”

Queen “Another One Bites The Dust”

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