Mark Heard's Brilliant Americana Returns

The late, Christian folk/rock artist Mark Heard, (Credit: YouTube)

In his song “Stuck In The Middle,” the late Americana artist Mark Heard wryly lamented, “I’m too sacred for the sinners / And the saints wish I would leave.” The latter might have been true in certain curmudgeonly circles, but for those who had ears to hear, the absence of Heard’s superb songwriting and keen lyrical insight–since his premature passing in 1992 at age 40–is keenly felt.

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Thirty years on, Heard’s work is being revived.

 

 

Heard first came to public attention in the mid-1970s as a James Taylor-esque folkie, traces of which evidenced themselves on his first widely available album, 1979’s Appalachian Melody

 

 

From here, Heard started spreading his artistic wings, adding a stripped-down, electric blues feel to his subsequent three albums.

 

 

Not one to abandon his strengths, Heard also made acoustic albums during this period, featuring stunningly beautiful songs, rich with musical and lyrical depth.

 

 

In 1987, under the alias iDEoLA Heard recorded an experimental electronic album titled Tribal Opera. It wasn’t his best idea. Heard rectified matters in 1990 with Dry Bones Dance, an album of rich, pure Americana loaded with classic songs.

 

 

1991 saw Second Hand, followed in 1992 with Satellite Sky. Heard had reached his full potential, writing and performing songs touching mind, heart, and Spirit. Sadly, his death from a stroke that same year silenced his warm, intelligent voice.

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Dry Bones Dance has recently been remastered and re-released on vinyl and CD, with copies left over from the Kickstarter campaign that paid for the effort soon becoming available. A campaign for Second Hand and Satellite Sky is planned for this summer, with, hopefully, other releases to follow.

For those wishing to hear more examples of Mark Heard’s genius, the most recent episode of the Cephas Hour podcast contains more than an hour of Heard’s music drawn from across his regrettably brief but utterly fruitful career. You can listen on demand at the show’s website.

If you love America’s music, listen to Mark Heard. You will not be disappointed.

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