The main character in this story is a beautiful green button accordion. An Italian musician and instrument maker makes the accordion and takes it from his native Sicily to New Orleans in 1890, dreaming of making and selling similar instruments.
When the accordion maker is killed in anti-Italian rioting, the instrument falls into the hands of a black blues musician who works the river boats.
The musician is murdered by his partner, who pawns the accordion. Its next owner is a German who, with two friends, is homesteading in Iowa. They found a town and play German polkas on the accordion and a trumpet. The accordion remains in Beutle's family into the next generation - until the family loses everything in the depression of 1929. It passes to Abelardo Relampago Salazar, who can wow audiences, but never makes any money from his music. He survives as a busboy. Abelardo's son, Baby, does somewhat better in music until he leaves the accordion in a taxicab in Chicago after playing a gig there.
The accordion passes from hand to hand, its voice speaking many musical languages. Charles Gagnon, a well-known French Cajun musician, a father-and-son team of musicians, and a Polish couple who hope to make their fortune in a polka contest. It's been beaten up and repaired and beaten up again. It finds its way to a horse farm in Montana, then to a junk dealer and finally - so battered it no longer plays - to a tiny town whose main industry is a landfill.
This report prepared by David Gordon