1.20.2006

Second accordion lesson

"Our dog is going to have puppies any minute," she said, opening the door quietly, "so I'm just letting you know, if that happens the lesson will have to be cut short."

Hesitantly I went in, lugging my box. "What will you do? Like, do you call an animal ambulance or something?"

"I'm going to deliver them myself."

In the kitchen, the table had been transformed into a kind of manger, with sheets and old pillows. The border collie slumbered peacefully in the manger. We tiptoed out. In the living room, where the lessons take place, slouched a very old man, also slumbering, in an old chair, with a book on his lap. When he heard the first accordion sounds, he roused, struggled out of the chair, and made his unsteady way to the manger.

"So did you buy that Palmer-Hughes book?" she asked. I admitted that I had not. "It's okay," she said. "I found one you can borrow for now. It's older than the other edition, but it has similar songs."

Older than the other one. She flipped through it. Copyright 1952. She taught me the songs "The Kickoff," "Batter Up!" and "Skating," during all three of which I fervently cocked a hopeful ear for puppy squeals. No dice.

Her teenage daughter stuck her head in the room. "I'm going to walk the neighbor's dog. And by the way," all innocent, "sounding great, guys." Flicked a smile at my burst of laughter and was gone.

At the end of the lesson, I flipped through the book and, after picking up my jaw from it, stared at this:

Injun song

Here are the lyrics to "INJUN SONG!":

I know what the Injuns know.
I go where the Injuns go.
I watched Big Chief smoke his peace pipe.
To the papoose I'm a friend.
For the squaws I carry candy.
On me Injuns all depend.

1952, people.

24 comments:

SER said...

My question is: when will you be holding a recital, and what will we drink at said event?

ian said...

Sadly, that is also the cover to the 2006 Cleveland Indians media guide.

Grendel said...

I dunno. We're still in Mary Had a Little Lambsville. Maybe I'll bust it out at my birthday party in March.

bihari said...

Bears a striking resemblence to some of the newspapers in the border towns near the Rez. Circa 2006.

Master_of_the_Obvious said...

Sweetie, that's not a calculator. It's a phone.

the plunge said...

Grenduille,

Great narrative. You should consider turning it into a short story, or, failing that, some non-fiction. It has it all: puppies, racism, an old man, a teenage girl, an accordian. Seriously, why not? I'll gladly be first editor.

Grendel said...

I may do that, plungy. I need a conflict, though...

Confucius said...

Way too hilarious, and horrifying, Grendel. You're bridging my worlds, man. Forget 1952...the accordion is STILL the instrument of choice in villages in Central Asia, especially among elementary school music teachers. Bone up..there'll always be a job waiting for you in remotest Kyrgyzstan. After the Injun Song, you can work on "May There Always Be Sunshine" a true Soviet classic, best performed at 1st grade concerts or over a bottle of bathtub homebrew (or a combination of the two).

I do hope you're not going to waste your time on that Mary Had a Little Lamb stuff, and will get busy on the Injun Song. If we don't work really hard to preserve American Classics of this kind, lord knows what will happen to them.

Brando said...

Well, Grendel, they weren't all Happy Days...

I suppose you could balance it out by learning the Blue-Eyed White Devil Boogie.

I also agree with Le Plunge. Good story or NF material, or better yet, pitch this as an NPR spot so we can hear the accordian.

Jane said...

What kind of candy do squaws typically eat?

Grendel said...

Candy corn, of course.

Thanks for all the encouragement, guys! I'd like to learn that Soviet song, actually.

I may post a snippet of today's lesson song later today.

Grendel said...

Here is some ear candy from today's lesson: Cafe Vienna, played by yours truly...

Vampiro said...

OK, Mr. Grendal. You may do the modest: I'm a beginner, that was rough, that was so basic routine. But I swear that's the most awesome thing I've heard all day. Viva la Accordion!

SER said...

That was awesome! Very Austrian. I do still maintain, however, that accordions unnerve at a visceral level. I'm off to sleep, perchance to nightmare......

Grendel said...

I'm very interested in getting to the bottom of your accordion nightmare, SER. The sound of the accordion is produced by wind passing through a reed, as in a harmonica, and a concertina... was there some transformative moment to the accompaniment of a free reed instrument? Is the sound reactive to the past or the future or the present?

Grendel said...

Or is it just wrapped up in scary carnivals?

SER said...

Uh, is the wind whistling through dead trees not menacing? Is the wind howling through the floorboards of a gothic, drafty, VC-Andrews-type attic not sinister? I dispute your claim that the physical mechanism which produce an accordion's distinctive and dolorous sound render it benign. Poppycock!

SER said...

Also, make that "produces."

SER said...

And "renders." So much for subject-verb agreement!

Vampiro said...

I put the accordion in the same genus as bag pipes, another ungainly instrument of horror that I love. I think they are so horrible as to become beautiful, kind of like a fine single malt scotch that tastes like rotting fish buried in a clay jar under a pile of dog carcasses. So horrible! So beautiful! Please post more when able.

Grendel said...

By popular -- okay, one -- demand, a bonus track, the solo from Steve Earle's "Galway Girl."

segall said...

For any furtherance of accordian-related terrors, I recommend a steady diet of Tiger Lillies. Start with "Angels."

Lots of fun trauma implied with the accordian. It's music's equivalent of beer.

Brando said...

Bravo, Grendel, bravo.

Now you know what I want to hear next..."Xan-a-du-u" (cue accordian in place of Moog).

Son of Spam said...

LMAO! I remember learning this on the accordion, when I was about 6 or 7 years old (yes: I used to play the accordion as a kid!). It's still the only song I know how to play on the piano. You know...because of the similar keyboard (I substitute the black buttons on the accordion for the black keys on the piano).