I made a new friend recently who shares my interest in music, I’m talking, down to owning dozens of the same artists and albums. He’s five years younger than me, and one thing that really threw me for a loop was that when we met here in my office at work he was just floored by my poster of the Mark Heard book and my collection of articles and interviews with him from twenty years back. I really wish I had more encounters like this. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Mark Heard was a musician and singer-songwriter. I had the high honor of editing Matthew Dickerson’s book Hammers & Nails: the Life and Music of Mark Heard. When I say edit I mean everything from the book submission to unloading the books off the truck to hand numbering the limited edition copies.
That year, 2003, is one blur of overactivity for me. So to unpack all that and revisit it again lately is something. Let me list a few topics that I’ve hardly heard come to me personally from readers—yet.
1. Real conversations about being a singer/songwriter in the Evangelical subculture.
2. The effects of religious money on art in the Evangelical subculture.
3. Biblical theology set to lyrics in a culture in transition.
4. The perils of Christian life and art without a local church family.
5. The balancing act of truly expressing one’s self artistically while providing for one’s family as a bread-winner in a tribe that buys schlock.
These are the topics I’d love to hear covered in conversation about Hammers & Nails. Instead mostly what I hear is Mark Heard in the context of 80s pop CCM music, Mark as an artist we memorialize and miss, or worst of all: the idea that there is really nothing left to say about Mark, his music, life, and what he might still say to us today.
Markheard.net is still the best online database for bio, news, interviews, on and on. The admin, Martin Stillion, burned the midnight oil to help proofread the book.
Paste music is now the home for much of Mark’s music and the ITunes Music store has the albums Eye of the Storm, Stop the Dominoes, Ashes and Light, and Mosaics. Dry Bones Dance, and Second Hand can still be found on Amazon.com.
Finally, if you haven’t heard of the book yet, remember that royalty checks are still made out to the Heard family, and yes there are still “limited edition” hardcover copies available. (Many more than I care to admit.)