Mark Heard

American record producer, folk rock singer, and songwriter

John Mark Heard (December 16, 1951 – August 16, 1992) was a record producer, folk-rock singer and songwriter.

Heard in 1987



Life in the Industry: A Musician's Diary

  • I much prefer making music to talking about it. There's something visceral about instruments and voices that transcends words.
  • Sounds are indeed like colors, and my hunger for a truer palette of colors grows day to day.
  • I am apt to hire musicians sometimes because I know they will have some good jokes to tell.
  • That's what music is about, and those are the types of experiences I value most in looking for the visceral and unidentifiable thing it is that makes music music, and not something else.
  • We were recording a song called "I Don't Ever Want To Be Without You." The same Christian record company radio guy called me and asked me if we could change the song's title and lyrics. when I asked why, he said, "Because there are two negative words in the title-don't and without … I'd like some positive ones; can you call the song, 'I Always Want To Be With You?"'
  • It's terribly demeaning to write something that tells its story in its own way and be told it fails because it might scare somebody. My God, must we speak with all the candor of a wax Elvis?
  • I'm not sure what ministry really is, and that whatever it is, God seems to be kind enough to wrap it into our efforts and sometimes wise enough to bestow it in spite of them.
  • I told him I just want to write some more songs and put them on tape. I figure the content of the songs and how I choose to answer for myself is my business. He says he is sorry, even cut to the heart, but he cannot and will not sign me, as, alas, I cannot say the things he wanted to hear. I say I am sorry he cannot hear the things I'm trying to say.
  • After a ten minute prayer, the gist of which was, "Oh Lord, just sing through Mark tonight and keep him out of the picture altogether," I considered the prospect of lining up a great number of such concerts, then staying at home and sending a cardboard likeness of myself for God to sing through.
  • Why pray to a god who would rather speak through say, a stone? Too bad that God made so many people who are interested in music and so few stones who are.
  • Life is much more of a compromise than I ever imagined.
  • But the music business is no more about truth on the outside of the Christian ghetto than it is on the inside.
  • Perhaps we have more in common by virtue of our common humanity than we have differences by virtue of our religions.
  • Music is a solace for me now. As I age, contrary to common sense, I am more and more drawn into it and apt to spend more of my waking and some of my sleeping hours thinking about it, or just feeling about it. It is my escape.
  • I am increasingly irresponsible, it seems, in that I take on the mantle of Peter Pan and follow the second star to the right directly between a pair of speakers, or to the case that holds my mandolin.
  • I wish sometimes that I just didn't have to think about any of this, and could drone away my life. It would be easier.
  • Writing brings about a catharsis of my own terror and pity. It is something I have to do.
  • When you can see through the fog for an instant, and you understand haltingly and briefly what good is, and how God is connected with that, it cannot help but put a hell of a perspective on things you perceive as problems, and help you discover multiple ways in which you have been numb. For that brief moment you feel that God's in His heaven and all's right with the world.
  • Maybe those inclined towards the arts are so spiritually retarded to a degree that we must go through the whole process of cathartic expression just to discover how we really feel.
  • Artistic expression might be seen as a Darwinian protection device for the psyche of fragile individuals, for whom sensuous contact with the outside world is too much to bear, and is repressed, and must be brought up and thrust out into the open from time to time at great effort in order for them to simply survive emotionally.
  • I must at least tell somebody, even only God and myself, what I have seen and felt.
  • Maybe I'm just a selfish maniac who is wasting his time trying to transfer feelings which perhaps no one cares about onto a fretboard and a piece of magnetic tape. Maybe it's the modern petroglyph, or the modern way to write on the wall of your cave: "I was here." Maybe it is a cry to God about how much I hate the bad things and how much I love the good things.

Liner Notes

  • I guess it will always be that way until the Church learns how to take lessons from culture and from history, and stops... putting labels of "spiritual" and "unspiritual" on things which God never labeled. -Appalachian Melody.
  • I don't believe God wants every Christian who plays an instrument to try and form a ministry from it. After all, you don't expect a tire salesman to form a ministry with his expertise on tread design as the basis. -Appalachian Melody.
  • Most Christians would say that the music should in some way glorify God. Obviously, one assortment of notes on the scale can't glorify God more than another. Neither can certain assortments of words. -Appalachian Melody.
  • A lot of times I wonder what Adam would have written songs about. -Appalachian Melody.
  • It is really a kind of a slap in [God's] face to refuse to use the abilities He gave us just because there is danger involved. Just because adultery exists is no reason to avoid marriage. Just because gluttony exists is no reason to quit eating. We shouldn't be anhedonics under the guise of spirituality. -Appalachian Melody.
  • In my skeptical days, people who wanted to appear very spiritual were always telling me to forget my questions, to shove them under the rug and go on in "faith." In fact, some of my friends thought my questions were my own devices to dodge the "real issues." They thought I must be morally decadent to voice such questions. -Appalachian Melody.
  • I have heard people say that reason leads to agnosticism, but I don't think that is necessarily the case. It was the other way around for me - it led to faith. -Appalachian Melody.
  • I think seeds for doubt can be sown when a Christian is taught a narrow perspective in certain areas, and later, when that teaching is challenged by alternatives, the person panics. -Appalachian Melody.
  • Did you know that Bertrand Russell dropped all belief in God because he wasn't able to voice his doubts in the company of believers? -Appalachian Melody.
  • Until we learn the language of those outside the Church, the language of their hearts and the language of their minds, we will never be able to communicate properly. -Appalachian Melody.
  • If every Christian would treat just one other person with real love, I'm sure more would come to faith than do at present, with all our mass harvesting techniques. -Appalachian Melody.
  • Regular life, our humanness, often gets pushed aside. -Fingerprint.
  • Any system of thought which allows no value to human thought will destroy its own efforts. -Fingerprint.
  • Sometimes it seems Christians confuse their human nature with their sinful nature. The former we were created with, the latter we chose. It does us no good to try and escape our humanness and in so doing think we are escaping our sin. -Fingerprint.
  • Trying to avoid clichés helps life become fresh again, helps us remember what life is about in the first place. -Fingerprint.
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