Terry Gross from Fresh Air on NPR broadcasted her interview with musician Sam Baker this last week. He didn’t start writing music until after he came close to death in 1986 on a train in Peru traveling to Machu Picchu. Since I’ve been on that train in 2000 and 2002, I stopped my car to listen to the interview.
Baker told about the bomb the Peruvian terrorist group, Shining Path had planted in the luggage rack above where he sat talking to a German family who were vacationing. In the explosion, the mother and father who sat across from him and their teenage son next to him were killed. Baker suffered a brain injury, a cut artery in his leg, severe hearing loss, a shattered left hand, a deflated lung, among other injuries and eventually, gangrene.He was in a Cuzco hospital and then airlifted to a Houston hospital.
He had to have fifteen reconstructive surgeries.During his long recovery, songs came to him, some about the attack, some about his near-death experience, and others that are like short stories written in the voices of characters. Say Grace is the title of his fourth and latest album.
When asked how the bombing changed him he said, “One thing that changed was the sense that all suffering is universal…especially what I learned was empathy, and the faith that I got was the faith in us as a group, as humans.”
You can hear the interview that includes Baker singing a couple of his songs at http://www.npr.org/2014/05/06/310089151/sam-baker-finding-grace
His website is http://sambakermusic.com where you will find his quote: “Everyone is at the Mercy of Another One’s Dream.”