Marjan Vahdat: Our Garden Is Alone

August 3, 2022

Night & Day

Listening Post 353. At the foundation of Our Garden Is Alone lies a rift between body and soul. Though Marjan Vahdat lives in California her heart is in her native Iran; whenever one part of her is in daylight the other part sees only the night sky. Her songs carry fierce sorrow and glimmers of hope, suspended between clarity and ambiguity: Are expressions of love aimed at a person or at a country.? Does the recurring streak of blue refer to sky or mood? If her message is challenging, her voice is poignant and breathtaking. Born in Tehran, Marjan grew up on both sides of a rigid line: She studied with masters of Persian classical and traditional music in a country with severe restrictions on women singing before public audiences; deep cultural roots dictated physical exile. In addition to four albums with her sister Mahsa Vahdat, Our Garden Is Alone is Marjan’s third solo collection; transcending the classical-contemporary divide, she composed music for eight of the album’s 10 tracks and lyrics for four. In Leyli’s Garden, Marjan joins the personal and national, evoking her mother’s abandoned plants and pigeons and also Iran’s isolation (video 1); while Deylaman suggests the symbiosis of fields that pine for the artist’s song as much as the artist longs for the fields (video 2). Given her boundaries, her use of avian symbolism isn’t surprising: In the haunting Heart of Darkness, a bird flies through a seemingly endless night until it gives up with a sigh (video 3). There’s a touching lightness to In Love (video 4), describing the heart’s most basic sentiment as inevitably evolving from cure to suffering. And in Homeland, “free soul” becomes synonymous with “placeless” (video 5). Channeling despair into music is a powerful form of resilience. The contrast between Marjan Vahdat’s beautiful sad songs and capitulation is like day and night. (Kirkelig Kulturverksted)

Marjan Vahdat: Our Garden Is Alone / مرجان وحدت: باغ ما تنهاست
Marjan Vahdat: Vocals
Bugge Wesseltoft, Piano, keyboards, accordion
Jo Berger Myhre: Double bass, electric bass
Kenneth Ekornes: Drums, percussion
Pasha Hanjani: Ney flute
Shervin Mohajer: Kamancheh 

Related posts. Kronos Quartet, Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat: Placeless, Listening Post 212, July 30, 2019.


Leyli’s Garden
Poem & Music: Marjan Vahdat

“Dedicated to my beautiful mother, Leyli, whose pigeons are alone without her”

(From the Persian lyrics)
Oh, the ray of my moonlight
You are the Leyla of my heart
You have captured my soul
You are my restless desert

Leyli Leyli my dear
Leyli Leyli, you are the ray of my eye

Do you know why my song is blue?
Because I was longing your presence like Majnoon

I want to water the flowers of your name
I want to feed the pigeons of your roof

Leyli Leyli my dear
Leyli you are the ray of my eye


Poem: Marjan Vahdat / Music: Mahsa Vahdat

Oh Deylaman, tell me how your night turns into dawn without me?
Oh, wheat field of my heart, from whom are you hiding your sorrow?

In the blue of your sky, what happened to my pigeon without me
I conquer the sorrow of my soul by thinking of the fields of your reeds

At night, I want to reach to your Eastern stars
Because the desert of my house is lonely, and longing is my song


Heart of Darkness
Poem: Ahmad Shamloo / Music: Marjan Vahdat

A bird flew from the depth of the darkness, the night asked why and fell asleep again
The bird cried, flapped her wings, couldn’t find her way and landed in the darkness.

I am the bird that is turned around by darkness
Its song is a sigh, its spring is a bloodstream

Its seed is trapped by the hypocrisy of the world
Its nest is the rocking cradle of doubt

I am the bird who opened and closed its wings
It found no way through the night and settled in darkness
Careless about life, with no ambition for its name

it just gives a sigh to the darkness, that’s all ….


In Love
Poem: From the regional literature of Khorasan / Music: Marjan Vahdat

They say love is baseless
At first it is a cure, but in the end it is suffering
They say you will not be ashamed by love
However, my forehead is marked for everyone to see

Your beige colored horse is proud and beautiful
How can I be a cure for the pain of your heart?
Come and be my guest tonight
I will decorate the bridle of your horse with Turquoise

You are like a moon raised from behind the mountain top
You are like a flower which has blossomed again
You are like a deer, grazing in the fields of Khorasan in the night

They say love is baseless
At first it is a cure, but in the end it is suffering.
They say you will not be ashamed by love
However, my forehead is marked for everyone to see


Poem: From the oral literature of Khorasan / Music: Marjan Vahdat

When I think about you, I go crazy
I dwell in ruins

Like a placeless free soul
I search for you everywhere
I am here, but I dwell in intoxication
I am sleepless at night and restless at day
If you go to my homeland, bring my message to my beloved

I am crazy like Majnoon, and they call me a bohemian
I am homeless, and I have not settled down

When the night comes, I make my home where I am
Wherever I fall asleep is the place of my bed
I take people’s blame and wait for you till the day of reckoning
I’ll wait till a reed will grow from my grave
I shall see you on the day of resurrection



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