Chapter 4: The Old Dead Man – Pir

Pir means wise old man in Urdu. And many other central and south Asian languages. Old man. Saint. People in many Asian cultures have a Pir figure. Confucius, for example, was the ultimate Pir. This song is written from the point of view of a rejected and abused woman, lamenting her fate at the grave of some Pir, probably in the Sindh province. ‘Oh Pir’, she cries, ‘this man is committed to misunderstanding me. He is blind to my love, to what is in my heart. He does not listen. Oh Pir. I have lost my mind, my senses, myself.’

It was a hard song for me to sing because the first few times I tried, choked up. This happened a a lot during the recording. Also, some of those guttural sounds can irritate your throat. Ok I’ll stop being stupid.

I wonder what she came to ask for…

It’s a sad song with a very energetic percussive energy. The sort of thing you might listen to in a Dubai discotheque. Great rhythm and some lovely Zurna playing the lead in their as well. That’s a Greek/Eurasian woodwind instrument. Simple but versatile, it signified the woman’s lament. And it’s catchy as fuck.

Shrine of one of the OG Pirs, Sachal Sarmast in Khairpur, Sindh Province, Pakistan. (Discover Pakistan)

I am especially fond of the middle section where I switch from Urdu to Persian (Farsi). Similar, but completely different languages. I worked with the lovely Anita Jan to finesse my English sentiments into Farsi, as Persian poetry seems to somehow capture pain like very few languages can. And it sounds beautiful.

‘My love you have brought me nothing but pain. Still, I wait for you. Still I would die for you.’

I am the spurned, scorned, lonely and abused woman in this song. But it’s also about her, her that I pushed away, so foolishly, not realizing what a treasure a woman truly is. Take heed. If you don’t want to end up at the grave of some old, long dead Pir, praying to gods you don’t believe in, take better care of the people you love.

Some pirs are just middle aged Pakistani men dispensing wisdom over a Subway sandwich…

Next: Chapter 5 – In The Box.


Oh Pir, why does your servant not heed my words?
He sees not what is in my heart
He does what he wants 

I have lost my mind
I have been decimated
I have lost it all!
No, no no! 

Oh Pir, why does your servant not heed my words  
Does he not recognize my love
How much must I sacrifice?

My love you have given me,
Nothing but pain

My love you have brought me,
Nothing but misfortune

My love you have been cruel!
My love you have abandoned me!

I don’t want the pain of living without you

Still I wait at your door
Still I cry for you
Still I pray for you
Still I would die for you  

Oh my love, for you I hurt myself
Oh my love, for you I curse myself
Oh my love!