Roughly 50 years ago, Don McLean released his son song, “American Pie” with its famous line about “The Day the Music Died.” It was a reference to when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson died along with pilot Roger Peterson in an airplane crash. For Afghans, the day the music died coincided with the Taliban takeover of their country. Nothing drove home that fact than the horrific killing of Afghan folk singer Fawad Andarabi, who was executed by the Taliban for playing music.
The singer’s son said that the Taliban came to their farm and shot his father in the head. They targeted him because of his fame for playing the ghichak (above), a bowed lute, and preserving the traditional songs about his country.
While the Taliban told the media it would investigate, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid emphasized that “Music is forbidden in Islam.” Just days before, he announced to the media that music was banned. It was one of the first things the Taliban did after retaking power. Music was also banned under Taliban rule from 1996 until 2001.
You can see one of the last folk songs of Andarabi here as he sings of “our beautiful valley.”
Christians, other religious minorities, homosexuals, feminists, journalists and others are being reportedly hunted down. Now Afghans will face the tyranny of the Taliban like a lost generation without even the solace of the music of their homeland:
Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died