What is an optimist? An accordion player with a beeper.
June is national accordion month. No kidding. Affectionately called the squeezebox, the accordion is the official instrument of San Francisco and a good natured subject of jokes.
The largest manufacturer and exporter of accordions is China. Famous accordion players include Charles Dickens, Mahatma Ghandi, Billy Joel, John Lennon, Lucy Liu, Richard Nixon, and Lemony Snicket. Currently, the Ragin’ Cajun, Jo-el Sonnier has put the accordion back on center stage along with Alfred Matthew “Weird Al” Yankovic, satirist, and accordionist who had listeners holding their sides with Another One Rides the Bus, his parody of Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust. Weird Al sold 12 million albums since receiving his first accordion lesson a day before his seventh birthday.
“I’m a lapsed player myself,” admitted Gloria Gaither, who took lessons as a youngster. “I threw up in the bellows of my teacher’s accordion. That’s how much I loved it.”
“The hazard of being an accordion player,” cautioned Buddy Greene, “is if you leave your car door unlocked, when you return to your vehicle people have put additional accordions in your car.”
Get accordion players in a joke exchange and you’ll hear these classics:
• What’s perfect pitch? Tossing an accordion into a dumpster without hitting the sides.
• What’s an accordion at the bottom of a river? A good start.
• What’s the difference between an accordion and an onion? Nobody cried when you cut up an accordion.
• If you took all the accordions in the world and laid them end to end, you should just leave them there.
A musical instrument of the handheld bellows-driven free reed aerophone family, the basic form was invented in Berlin in 1822. The first patent for an accordion was issued in 1829 in Vienna.
“I love to talk about accordions,” said Jeff Taylor. “They have been very good to me. Because of them, I’ve gotten to play with Buddy Greene, Vince Gill, George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, the Chieftains, Martina McBride, Amy Grant, Grammy nominees The Time Jumpers, and Michael Card.” Witty sidekick when sharing the stage with Buddy Greene and featured with his accordion on two Gaither hymn videos, Taylor continued, “It was my first instrument at age five, and in my youth, I never liked it. I actually quit it at 18, thinking I would attract more girls with a guitar. At 33, I took it up again, and for the first time really connected with the instrument. It’s not just a polka machine. It’s a wind instrument, not unlike a sax or clarinet, and capable of great musical expression. So, onward I go, converting folks over to the previously much maligned musical malady called the accordion.”
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