The American Accordionists Association is huddled in a Holiday Inn in Rosslyn for the next couple of days, hosting workshops and awarding $12,000 in prizes in an international competition. We love the accordion. Especially, though not only, when it gives a rock song a good goosing. (Somewhat arbitrarily, we’ve ruled out such crossover Cajun acts as BeauSoleil and Buckwheat Zydeco. And that’s a harmonium, not an accordion, on the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out.”)
1. Squeeze Box — The whole thing is obviously a sexual double-entendre, but it’s the Who at their whimsical, as opposed to operatic, best. Most righteously, Pete Townshend played the accordion himself.
2. 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) — Listening to this classic Bruce Springsteen album track will from now on be a bittersweet affair, evoking as it does the memory of E Street keyboardist (and accordionist!) Danny Federici, who died this year of melanoma.
3. Jenny’s Got a Pony — If you’re still seated after hearing this Los Lobos rocker, we send heartfelt condolences.
4. Back Street Girl — One critic put it aptly when he said Brian Jones’ accordion on this obscure Rolling Stones track makes you feel as if you’re actually standing in one of Paris’ filthy back alleys.
5. If You Should Fall From the Grace of God — In a rank-ordering of accordion use in rock, it’s hard to choose just one by the Irish punk-rockers the Pogues, but choose only one we must. This fairly gets the blood flowing.