I can’t pretend to be anything but a fanboy of Sam Baker. I’ve been anticipating this release since I first heard about it 6 months ago. I truly believe Sam Baker is a poetic soul who despite (or perhaps because of) impossible obstacles has become one of the greatest singer songwriters the country has ever seen. cotton (Music Road Records) is the third in a trilogy of albums that are an attempt by Sam to deal with an event that happened over 20 years ago. I’ll cut and paste rather than rewrite the bio:
“In 1986, at age 32, Baker was traveling in Peru when, as he says, “I got in the middle of somebody else’s war.” A terrorist bomb (the Sendero Luminoso or “Shining Path” Maoist group) blew up the train he and some friends were riding on. Several passengers died, including a German boy and his parents, who were sitting next to Baker. Though he nearly bled to death, Sam survived but suffered a constellation of injuries and aftereffects—shrapnel in his leg, renal failure, brain damage, even gangrene.”
Sam Baker’s songs have the most carefully chosen lyrics you will ever find. Because of the permanent brain damage he incurred it’s tough for Sam to access the words he needs for his songs. As a result the songs on his three records have fewer words than typical. But each word is a labor of love; worked on, shaped, and chosen because it’s the perfect fit. Sam Baker is spoken of in hushed voices and with great reverence by the most respected singer songwriters, by his fans, and by members of the music press.
cotton picks up where 2007′s perfect world left off. Namely with stories of Mennonites who have lost their way, references to the Virgin Mary, Palestine and the Traveling Nazarene, and the homeless. Here’s just a small smattering of phrases that resonate with me:
The moon got lost tonight
Drank beer by the quart out of mason jars
A laundromat in Natchez; It’s not exactly what I dreamed
She wears an all night wrinkled shirt
There are a thousand ways a person in the snow gets lost
One Day he just walked away; kicking up dust; right in the middle of the day
She was standing at the bar; holding court; a push up bra for extra support
I think music bloggers on the whole are constantly questioning how much good they can do. I have the same doubts as some of my favorite blogs that have gone dormant over the years. By and large the blogs that I love are trying in their own small way to make a difference in the lives of the artists whether that is through promoting a new CD, helping with a concert, or simply pushing their favorite bands on their friends. I’m the same way. I don’t want recognition/praise for my actions, but I do want to succeed in spreading the word about each and every artist reviewed on Songs:Illinois.
So here’s the kicker and the reason for the prologue above:
Songs:Illinois will be on hiatus until we prove we can make a difference when/where it counts (namely $$$). So email me at firstname.lastname@example.org when you have pre-ordered the Sam Baker CD or purchased the download (we’ll just have to use the honor system). When I get enough emails I will return to the site with voluminous thanks and gratitude to everyone that helped hit the goal (not sure yet if the goal will be ten people, a hundred people, or a thousand people buying the record).
So, long story short, I’d like you to help me help Sam Baker. Pre-order his new CD here through Amazon or download cotton legally through Amazon here (for only $8.99) or for those of you in the UK here.
Check out “Signs” below and buy the record so I can return to writing about and sharing the music I love.