FRIDAY, JUNE 1
Sam Baker is a Texan singer-songwriter whose first CD, Mercy, in 2004 brought him an ardent and extensive following in North America and Europe. Decades ago Sam survived a bomb blast perpetrated by Peru’s Shining Path rebels. "It was 1986, and I was in Peru with some friends. We went to Lima and from there to Cuzco to catch the train to Machu Picchu. We were going there for the Inti Rami, which is a pretty big celebration there. The bomb was on our train car. Me and my friends who were there—they were foresters, living in Columbia—the bomb went off and killed them and the German family I was sitting with, a mother, a father, and a boy. It killed them in a particularly terrible fashion.The exploding shrapnel cut the femoral artery in my leg and I should have bled out right then but for some reason didn’t. I stayed alive in spite of subdural bleeding, cranial bleeding, gangrene, and renal failure.When I was brought back to the States I started roundafter round of surgery.I think that whole experience made my writing much more empathetic toward people. You see quite a bit afterweeks when you can’t move, near death. It makes you reflective.“Broken Fingers” was written partly in memory of the German boy who died in the explosion. His parents spoke only German but he knew Spanish and pretty good English, so we talked. The way my hand is now reminds me of that; the shrapnel blew off the top of my left hand. They didn’t operate on it at first because they didn’t think I’d survive, but eventually they did operate. I later had to learn to play the guitar left-handed. There were times when I got frustrated. And then I somehow connected that to the boy. Some things are just done, and death is one of them. Some things don’t heal, some things don’t change.