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SPECIAL?

November 2018

When I was about nine years old I took accordion lessons. There was an accordion club attached to the school, with which I even performed once in theater Gooiland in Hilversum. I was not really a super language on this instrument. In addition, the repertoire offered did not appeal to me at all, so within two years I was a bit done with it. I never mastered the left bass side (with those buttons) well, and yes, the right hand, that succeeded because it was actually no more than a short type of piano keyboard that was only slightly clumsy, but necessarily placed transversely.

Later, the accordion surprisingly started to play a role on many Kayak albums. It even became a kind of tradition to have an accordion part on each record at least once. To be honest, we have not kept up all seventeen albums, but often this instrument, which is not very common in rock music, turned out to offer the solution when we were a bit stuck with the arrangement of a certain song. If guitar, synthesizer, piano or organ did not work, we often took that accordion out of the case and yes, usually it still worked. See See the Sun, Wintertime, Wnere do we go from here, First signs of spring, Lost Blue of Chartres and some more recently How ,, Anywhere but here and Love, Sail Away, are just a few examples of songs on which the accordion plays key role. I have also taken up the instrument live, most recently I think during the sems-acoustic intermezzo in the tour of 2001.

Incidentally, it was not the most rock-strange instrument we ever used: it was without a doubt the barrel organ on Mammoth (1973). That of course remained with a studio recording, which had been difficult enough (the recordings took place outside because the Flamingo did not fit through the studio doors).

Another instrument that was somewhat outside of our regular pattern, but was used was the double bass. To get out of high school at the age of 17, I had 'accepted' a classical double bass vocational training at the time. In my spare time I already played bass guitar in bands, so that seemed like a logical switch - everything to get rid of that miserable HAVO. Not that I finished that double bass study (story of my life), but I played well enough to do that live, during My Heart never Changed. You would ask who played piano then? Pim Koopman, he could do that at least as well as I did. Since I was in vocational training (1970-1973) in all kinds of classical ensembles during my studio, I once played The Carnival of the Animals of Saint-Saëns. In particular, the funny but tricky bass solo of the Elephant is still clearly in my mind. Later I redone the almost complete work in a kind of pop arrangement and made it into a solo album (1977), so it was not for nothing. By the way, I replaced the double bass with a bass harmonica, which gave about the same effect.

After that tour (1975) I hardly touched the double bass anymore. Because you have to keep up with something like that, my technique disappeared like snow in the sun. And that bass too, after a tour with Harry Sacksioni (1986). The instrument, which was not of top quality and had been dusted for years afterwards, was used as a kind of re-entrant as a colossal surprise act. The bass player supposedly fell over it, much to the horror and hilarity of the spectators. The poor bass clattered on stage night after night into dozens of pieces that really flew in all directions - including the audience. After each performance, bass was glued together and back together as good and as bad as it could be, to be further maltreated the next show. He ended up gleaming in the bin, and the idea that I was ever able to put this on an instrument still evokes vague feelings of shame. But it was fun.

Over the years, many pop and rock songs have been embellished and embellished by many musical instruments, which you wouldn't expect one-two-three there. You can think of the sitar (introduced by the Beatles as far as I know), but also the church organ and all kinds of 'classic' instruments. Meanwhile, the genre of rock and pop has become so broad that the boundaries have become somewhat blurred, partly due to the introduction of samplers and synthesizers with which almost every instrument is brought out at the touch of a button. Because everything is possible, nothing is special anymore. And maybe that pretty much sums up all of today's rock culture…

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