I’ve spent the better part of the morning at work listening to Mark Heard music. Especially beloved by me is the tribute album, called Strong Hand of Love, that Mark’s friends made for him. This particular album is one of those mile-marker records for me. Every time I listen, I think about combing the shelves of Long’s Christisn Books and Music in Orlando, looking for the 77s or Rez Band or, yes, Vigilantes of Love or Steve Taylor or a million other artists. I found Strong Hand of Love because VOL was on it, and I would have bought anything with them on it, but I had no idea what I actually had in my hands. Not only was it my first exposure to Mark Heard, which is remarkable enough by itself, but it was also my first exposure to Bruce Cockburn, Victoria Williams, Pierce Pettis, and the fabulous Buddy and Julie Miller, who these many years later have become all-time favorites. Also, with tracks by Rich Mullins, Tonio K, The Choir, Kevin Smith, and Chagall Guevara (among others), this record really helped direct my musical taste. The real beauty of it is that it is a record made, not just by artists who were influenced by Mark, but by his friends.
Last Wednesday was the anniversary of the death of Mark Heard. It was also the day before my birthday. Every year, on August 16th, I’m keenly aware that I’ll soon be adding a year to my life, and Mark will not (August 16th is also the anniversary of Elvis’ death, BTW). Mark died in 1992, after suffering a minor heart attack onstage at Cornerstone (he finished the set). He had another heart attack two weeks after his release from the hospital and could not recover. He, along with Rich Mullins, will always be the musical Poet Laureate of Christianity.
Download Orphans of God by Buddy and Julie Miller
Download Strong Hand of Love by Bruce Cockburn