While traveling in Peru at age 32, Sam Baker took a train ride that would change his life. On a clear cool morning in Cuzco in the summer of 1986, Sam boarded a passenger train that was blown up minutes later by terrorists. Initially, seven died. The dead included a German boy and his parents who were sitting with Baker in the car. Baker survived, but with lasting damage- deafness, a mangled hand..., a mangled leg, and brain damage affecting speech and memory. At 55, words are still occasionally unremembered, requiring extensive search. However, during these searches, he finds other words. From these other words, he finds other stories. And with these stories come characters from other places and times.
The p r e t t y w o r l d trilogy
The trilogy is its own making. m e r c y (2004) attempts to come to terms with the flash of impact- the quick violence and the eerie post-blast quiet. It was written as a single piece of art attempting to make sense of sudden death and the lottery quality of shrapnel: the death of some and the survival of others. In the interim, while sorting out life and death on the train, other characters appeared- an ironworker, kids playing baseball, an old widower on a beach. Beauty appears and prevails.
p r e t t y w o r l d (2007) explores gratitude, obligation, and again, beauty. It forms itself as a bookend to m e r c y. Other characters debut: the son of an oil baron, a man in a blue suede cowboy hat, a woman at a swimming pool.
c o t t o n (2009) is the last (and perhaps most difficult) piece of the trilogy. The cost of forgiveness is weighed against the cost of not forgiving. Other characters walk onto the stage: a field hand, a pulp wood logger, a serving girl, a young Mennonite. Once again beauty is a constant.
Baker’s music is authenticated by experience. Seldom in modern music is the listener able to hear a unique voice with an uncommon story. As told through Sam’s voice himself:
“Life is beautiful, difficult, terrible, and transcendent. Each of us is part and parcel of one great community, one great p r e t t y w o r l d that reaches back to a time before recall and reaches forward beyond imagination. We are love. We are hope. We are stories.”