The other day, I was sitting with the band enjoying a pint of Olde Hickory Brewery Table Rock Pale Ale after another sold out gig in Falling Rock, North Carolina. Despite the rapturous reception that had greeted our performance, we were all feeling a bit deflated. It was that mid tour blues that strikes when you are far from home with the realization that you still have several weeks to go before the final performance in Madison Square Garden and the trip to the airport and home to loved ones and guitarist Dee Sharpe’s Granny’s delicious scones. Seeing all the glum faces, I came up with an idea to use the situation to our advantage. Why not turn our despondent mood into a sad song?
So we all picked up pens and beer mats and half an hour later compared what we had. To my surprise, by far the most affecting lyric came from an unexpected source. I had thought maybe it would be Dee, whose trail of heartbreak will be well known to followers of the band. Or maybe our Peruvian bassist Juan Tusrifor, prone to bouts of melancholy when he finds himself pining for the Andes. But no, it was Afghan drummer, Kit Bashir.
Kit is so painfully shy that he rarely speaks or even emerges from the special compartment under the van where he feels safest and most at home. It took me some time to realize what we had, as Kit speaks no English and I had to fetch my Pashtun dictionary from the truck. When I translated his lyric, I was surprised to find references to wine and to a woman’s mouth, neither of which he would have been accustomed to seeing in his days touring his native Afghanistan as a member of the Taliband. I turned to ask for an explanation, but he was gone, returned to his safe space until our next performance.
It took me a little over an hour to translate Kit’s lyric to English and we recorded the song that evening in our motel room.