Home > CCM, Christian Music, Christian Pop, Christian Rock, Greatest Albums, Jesus Music > 4. Victims of the Age – Mark Heard

4. Victims of the Age – Mark Heard


Mark Heard

This could be the last day my eyes see
This could be the last day you see me
This could be the last night in my bed
This could be the last thought in my head

I won’t cast my life to the wind
I’ll treasure as much as I can
While I can, I can

Though I may be gone before too long
As long as I am here I’ll sing this song

This could be the last time

I do not cry very often. I will cry in a movie before I cry about things in my own life. I have only cried once at a funeral, but never have I cried when hearing about the death of someone I did not know extremely well. Except on August 17th 1992 when I had learned of the death the previous day of Christian artist Mark Heard.

And I don’t know why…

Perhaps I was so moved by his music and felt such a connection to it that his death simply moved me. Or I have considered I was familiar enough with the story of his life and trials and struggles he endured for his art that I felt an empathy previously unknown. Sometime I believe it is because I realized the world lost a beautiful soul, a loving man and brilliant artist…and the world didn’t even know it.

That is the great shame of the life and death of Mark Heard. It is a shame that most of the world had no idea who the man was and what an amazing collection of art he had created in his 20 years as a musician, poet, producer and performer.

“Victims of the Age” was the second album of Mark’s that I would own (though I now own them all) and its consistently carried theme of city life and isolation and the ever-present Gospel ring as true today as it did in 1982. Plus I firmly believe that Victims, more than any other Heard release, walked the very fine line between commercially accessible and artistically intriguing as any other.

Heard’s musical career began with a small Gospel folk quintet,  Infinity + 3, on an album called “Setting Yesterday Free.” I picked up the “Fingerprint” re-release a few years ago and admit is possesses limited repeat listening, but it does offer a glimpse into the early songwriting of Heard with five songs written by him. The album was originally recorded and released in 1970 and eventually found limited distribution through Spirit Records a few years later.

A few years later he would produce his first solo release, the self-titled “Mark Heard.” The album would actually br re-released on Larry Norman’s Solid Rock label three years later and, so, in 1978 Mark heard made his Christian Music debut on a national level.

The album suffered from a limited budget and the production quality is obviously lacking, but the songwriting skills are prevalent as they would ever be. Most notable is the wonderful title track at its contemplative feel.

What will I do if you go away
Leaving these songs sitting here
What is the use if you’ve not cared to hear
Time and again I will pray this prayer
Loved saved and crying away
“Lord let the Truth reach hearing ears today.”

My, my–how the thoughts slip by
Who has seen them pass
How nice if everyone would carefully use a looking glass

1979′s “Appalachian Melody” would be the second and final album Heard would do for Larry Norman’s label. Heard, like nearly every other artist that worked with Larry, did no more than one or two releases on Solid Rock. But this album would receive some very positive attention with some regionalized airplay of several of the James Taylor-like acoustic ballads. The name of the album is somewhat ironic in that the musical backdrop was significantly less “Appalachian” sounding than the debut album though the Southern/Bluegrass influence is still present.

The album is not only loaded with amazing songs, but Norman did assemble quite a group of studio musicians and friends to help. Musicians credited include Norman, Stonehill, Jon Linn, Flim Johnson and the late Tom Howard on keyboards. But with all that help it should be noted that Heard’s immense musical talent would allow him to perform the majority of the music.

Highlight’s include On the Radio, Bless My Soul, Sidewalk Soliloquy, The Last Time and Castaway, a song which would appear on later re;eases as well and serve as one of Heard’s stronger radio hits. “Two trusting Jesus” should have become a regular wedding song, which was quite a popular musical form in the 70′s and 80′s, with its deeply loving and spiritual content.

Two trusting Jesus
There begins the story
Two separate pathways
Leading to glory
With God’s Son
One and one
Two eternal lives begun
Two trusting Jesus
Are two within His care

After recording an album that was originally released in Switzerland (Fingerprint), Heard returned to the United States and signed with Chris Christian’s Home Sweet Home label. The next five albums would be released on the label, but would mark Heard’s most difficult season artistically. According to interviews and the biography written about his life, Heard was constantly under pressure from label executives to make his music more palatable to the “CCM” audience.

Heard suffered from an ailment known as the low “J-quotient” in his music. By that I mean he was criticized by some for not using the name “Jesus” or God in his songs quite enough. The market at the time (today?) chooses to embrace and promote artists whose content is easy to decipher and required little critical thinking on the part of the listener. Heard did not, nor would he ever, fit into that mold.

We are better off for it even though it cost Heard quite a bit spiritually and emotionally. Described by many as a quiet, reserved, aloof and thinking man, his friends knew a man who was intensely thoughtful, creative and intensely funny. Regular concert goers were privy to his dry and wry humor and unbelievable musicianship. In fact I have argued and still firmly believe he was the finest acoustic instrument player I ever saw live, rivaling Bruce Cockburn in sheer musicianship.

Heard’s first release on Home Sweet Home was the decidedly more electric and rock oriented “Stop the Dominoes.” Mark would produce, arrange and record the album himself and hand-pick the background musicians that included John Patituci, Tom Howard, Alex MacDougall, Randy Stonehill and a very young a relative unknown female singer/songwriter, Leslie Phillips.

Less James Taylor and more bluesy rock with early influences of Lindsey Buckingham that would be a major influence on the album that is the our subject here. But Heard’s own words would describe the general response from the CCM market, even though a small and growing following was beginning.

Well my brothers criticize me
Say I’m just too strange to believe
And the others just avoid me
They say my faith is so naive
I’m too sacred for the sinners
And the saints wish I would leave

Whether instinctively or through experience Heard seemed to know that his music was planted firmly on the fringe of the CCM world. It is a shame because even this often overlooked album had several amazing radio friendly songs like I’m Crying Again, Call Me the Fool and To See Your Face. The latter was played on KYMS I recall.

After releasing “Victims” a year later Heard followed up with two relative acoustic driven album to attempt to appeal to the more AC CCM crowd. The first was the very impressive “Eye of the Storm,” which would include a new version of “Castaway” that would pick up some radio airplay on Christian radio stations nationwide.

It is also a special album in that Heard pretty much recorded the whole album at home by himself, playing all the instruments and performing all of the backing vocals, including a “gospel choir.” There is even a “horn section” that was Heard humming into his hands. Though there were a few overdubbed instruments added they were very limited and added one at a time.

If I remember right “Eye of the Storm” would be Heard’s most successful release. This would be a blessing and curse.

After the success of the previous album Heard was receiving pressure from the label to continue in a more acoustic vein in attempt to capitalize on the success of “Eye of the Storm.” Though decidedly “mellower” than Dominoes of Victims, “Ashes and Light” would not be the exclusive acoustic release the label was hoping for. Though filled with very radio friendly songs in the style of Tom Petty and John Mellncamp there never seemed to be a concerted effort by the label to break any songs on radio.

The album does stand out as it was the very first album recorded entirely in Heard’s home studio, Fingerprint Studios. I recall hearing stories of Heard playing an instrument or singing while simultaneously recording and engineering his own work. The album would also be the first to feature an appearance by Jesus Music pioneer and incredible songwriter on his own, Pat Terry. Heard would produce three album for terry, the first being “Humanity gangster,” a must own album that I one day hope appears on CD!

The opening track, “Winds of Time” remains one of my favorite songs in Heard’s catalog. The lyric rips at the heart upon every listen in our need to be completely filled with all that God has to offer. Heard calls it the “saturated soul.”

It takes a saturated soul
And a faith that will never let go

It takes more than mindless passion
It takes more than dogma in mime
It takes more than virtuous fashion
To withstand the winds of time

It takes a saturated soul
To withstand the winds of time

The song “Straw Man” is notable as the only song in history that includes the word “anhedonia.” Not for that alone, the song also stabs deep at the heart of those who build up arguments based on fallacies and spread the fallacies as truth, and who use those arguments against those in the body of Christ.

If true communication were ever to bless this congregation
And everyone knew just what it’s like to be somebody else
And no words were hasty and all thoughts were thought through
Might our anger not find a better target than ourselves?

“Mosaics” would be the last album on Home Sweet Home even though the label would release several”Best Of” money grabs, especially after his death. Fans criticized the label profusely for this as stories circulated that due to some contractual issues the surviving family members (wife Susan and daughter) were not receiving royalty payments for those projects. I have heard that some of those issues were eventually resolved but am unfamiliar with the details.

“Mosaics” would be a return to a more rock and blues influenced sound and would include a cover of T-Bone Burnett’s “Power of Love” and the song, “Miracle” co-written with Tonio K. Heard would go on to work extensively with both of those artists.

One other interesting note is that the album cover was of a picture of Heard that was cut up into sections and sent to several friends around the world who were asked to “fill in” the their piece and send it back. The pieces were then reassembled to form the album artwork.

The next album for Heard would be the group concept for What? Records recorded under the name iDEoLa. See http://greatestchristianalbums.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/31-tribal-opera-ideola/  for more information on this great release.

Heard would then disappear for several years producing albums for Randy Stonehill and forming his own label, Fingerprint, that would include artists like Pierce Pettis and the Vigilantes of Love, whom he would also produce.It would also be on Fingerprint that he would write, record and produce three of the greatest albums in his career and in Christian music for the time.

“Dry Bones dance” would be the first of the three “Fingerprint” albums released before his death in August of 1992. Both it and the follow-up album, “Second Hand” would be listed among the Top 100 albums by the editors of CCM Magazine. Interestingly enough, it would be “Satellite Sky” that would remain my favorite of the three.

This third release would be written entirely on the mandolin and would feature several songs that would later be covered on the Tribute album to Heard called “Orphans of God.” There is something about the uniqueness of the mandolin as the primary instruments in a rock and roll setting that makes the album so enjoyable.

It was also the last album before his death and while working for Frontline Distribution at the time we were selling the record into christian Bookstores. Several weeks before his death Heard came to a Frontline sales conference to promote the new album and the entire label that just had signed the deal with the company. As a longtime fan it was a privilege and joy to represent his music to an industry that never quite “got him.”

Despite the impressive list of albums mentioned above, my love and appreciation for Mark Heard and his songwriting skills came with the impressive “Victims of the Age.” It is both eternal and groundbreaking. It is immediately likable while possessing a lasting impact. It is brilliant from the first note to the last. It is the finest collection of heard material in one cohesive package and its theme is utterly universal.

The album starts with the title track that addresses immediately a world that makes no effort to ensure its inhabitants and loved, accepted and carded for. Everything around us screams for our attention and yet offers little for that attention received.

Radio says, “I love you”
Street says, “That’s a lie”
Billboard says, “Give anything a try”
Sidewalks don’t say nothing
Streetlights don’t ask why

Could stars be screaming in the evening sky?

Caught between these voices
The sirens and the sage
One too many choices
For the victims of the age

The “city life” theme would consume the entire project as the listener imagines Heard getting into a taxi cab and driving around the city commenting on what he sees. The loneliness, despair and the glimmers of hope.It must be a universal question to wonder under our breath just who all these people are and what are their lives like. Heard asks the same question with sobering answers.

Half-baked traffic snake creeping in the evening sun
Clogged-up fast lane clears and the day is done
Everyone’s gone: some went to Hell, some went home

City life won’t let up while you’re waiting for the light to change

Most of the album falls in the middle American rock vein of Tom Petty and Neil Young, but with the lyrical precision of Bob Dylan and musicianship of Lindsey Buckingham. This is high praise that is well deserved.

The theme of individual despair and isolation continues as Heard is joined in the can by others who are seeking something…something that may not even realize they are seeking. Their nameless faces populating vehicles leading heard to wonder aloud.

Hypothetical mortal beings
Known only to themselves and God
Come and go and play the cameo
They’re just faces in cabs

All the hearts that are gonna break today
All the lovers who won’t come home tonight
Nobody feels their dynamite
They’re just faces in cabs

One must wonder where is the Church in all of this? What is our responsibility? Are we seen making a difference. We find mission avenues in foreign lands and neglect our neighbors.

All the heathen in Africa
All the heathen in West L.A. today
All of raging humanity
Is just faces in cabs

They’re just faces in the cabs-so I’ve been told
Just faces in the cabs-the masses out there
Just faces in cabs-anonymous souls

On “Nothing is Bothering Me” the results of these images appear to be limited as they ones commissioned to serve and help the down-trodden ignore the truth set before them.

We get the picture from week to week
The rich get richer and inherit the meek
Long since started preying on the weak
Am I the guilty party if I turn the other cheek

I’m alright
Nothing is bothering me
I’m just trying to keep the weight of this world
From dawning on me

Heard continues this study in juxtapositions as he compares people from all walks of life and how similar events may result in significantly different responses in “Some Folks World.” The disparity and desperation of many are chronicled in this sobering and haunting melody.

Some folks eat what flies leave
They get what they can take
Hunger has no heart and it will not wait

Rain can ruin your weekend
Or rain can spare your life
Depending on who you are and what your thirst is like

And when it’s day to me it’s night to someone
And when it’s night you might not want to go on

It is a big world out there and yet the church was called 2,000 years ago to make an impact in this world. Heard concludes the song with similar thoughts.

Some folks taste of Heaven
Some folks taste of Hell
Some folks lose their taste and they cannot tell

And when it’s day to me it’s night to someone
And when it’s night you might not want to go on

Heard does not let up on the second half of the album as he makes probably the most blatant indictment on the church and her response (or lack of) to the world around her in the song “Growing Up Blind.”

So we forsake this festering waste
And all of the wounds that we’ve seen bleed
In the name of the One who says that what we’ve done
Is turn our backs on Him in leaving the least of these

Growing up blind, growing up blind
Hearts in the darkness killing time
Growing up blind, growing up blind
How does it feel to be growing up blind

“Dancing at the Policeman’s Ball” should have been a mainstream radio hit for Heard. The quirky, dare I say “dancy,” song is the most reminiscent of Lindsey Buckingham. For some reason I every time I hear Steve Taylor’s, “This Disco (Used to be a Cute Cathedral)” I am reminded of this song and its look at those things that keep us from doing what we are commanded to do. It also would have fit nicely on the Ideola project with a bit of electronic tweaking.

You hit the floor at the sound of the band
With a partner in your hand
Restless and breathless you dance the night away
Did I hear you say it is your aim
For every night to be just the same
And you hope the city outside’s gonna be okay

Dancing at the Policeman’s ball

Heard’s most scathing commentary may have been reserved for “Everybody Love a Holy War.” This brilliant work features some of Heard’s finest lyrics as he addresses the “us versus them” mentality both within the walls of the church and the with the church and those on the outside. The content reminds me of Francis Schaeffer, who, I would discover later, had a great impact on heard’s theology and worldview. Here Heard addresses how those within the Church treat one another on doctrinal lines and how those in spiritual power rules use their authority to weaken those below them.

Many’s the man with the iron hand
Supposing his own thoughts to be Divine
He will break any bond-
’cause the other man’s always wrong
It’s a handy excuse for his crimes

Everybody loves a holy war
Draw the line and claim divine protection
Kill the ones who show the most objection
Everybody loves a holy war

But the battles are not just waged within the walls of the church, but the attacks are lobbed at the world in need of the gospel as well.

Dissident cries are met with cold eyes
And treatment the devil would get
Righteousness and truth
can be weapons in the hands of fools
While innocents go to their deaths

Everybody loves a holy war
Draw the line and claim divine assistance
Slay the ones who show the most resistance
Everybody loves a holy war

Heard, though, shine the bright light of grace and hope in the albums closing number. “Heart of Hearts” would feature backing vocals by Leslie Phillips who would later cover the song and make a hit out of it. If the often mentioned Top Songs blog ever comes together this may be Heard’s highest charting song and clearly one of the best 20 songs the genre ever produced.

Tears in the city
But nobody’s really surprised, you know
My heart’s taking a beating
Existence is bleeding me dry, you know

But way down in my heart of hearts
Way down in my soul of souls
Way down I know that I am a fortunate man
To have known divine love

The trip around the city ends with more than just a glimmer, but rather and sunburst of hope as Heard realizes how fortunate is the man who has come in contact with divine love. the songs serves as the perfect and memorable ending to such an amazing record.

On July 4th, 1992 Heard suffered a heart attack while on stage at the Cornerstone Festival outside of Chicago. He continued and finished his set before asking to be taken to the hospital. After a few weeks he was released and a few weeks folloing he suffered a major cardiac arrest and passed away on August 16th. He was only 41 years old.

But Heard’s legacy would live well beyond “Victims” and well beyond his years as the incredible tribute album,”Orphans of God” shows. I am firmly convinced that this is the very best “tribute” album ever recorded. Many tribute albums are filled with artists who were fans or who were on the same label as the artist receiving the tribute. Here the album was filled with a diverse congregation of artists who were deeply and personally impacted by the music, ministry and art of Mark Heard.

Add to that the fact that the songs were written by one of the most impressive and talented songwriters of his or any other generation. It said that Bruce Cockburn named Heard his favorite songwriter. There is not much higher praise I could include that would say more than that.

  1. Don
    November 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I agree that this is a top 5 album. I might put it at #2 but I don’t know what 3 and 2 will be. Let me be the first to say I LOVE this album.

  2. Shawn McLaughlin
    November 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    A great, GREAT album. Definitely auspiciously so at the time of its release. The funny thing is…..like many of these top albums by artists that have had long careers, it might not even be Heards best work.

    • don
      January 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      Is btc #3?

  3. November 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Thank you for the review, this time I really mean it. Especially those lyrics are really touching. I’ve always liked this album as soon as I heard it for the first time but now when I understand the messages the songs have it ranks higher in my favorite album list. “Heart of Hearts” is one of the best songs ever written. Still THREE albums. I have a good feeling one of them but those two could be any albums in the world. Probably I don’t have them.

  4. November 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    For me, “Satellite Sky” is Heard’s finest work, as the impact it had on me in high school, and the shaping of my Christian worldview is unrivaled by any album anywhere!

    That being said, “Victims of The Age” is my second favorite, and I couldn’t agree with you anymore that the song cycle is one of the finest thematic releases by any artist. If this were a just world, it would have been the album that became the ultimate benchmark for Christian artists to evaluate their work by, and made Heard a household name. But alas, like so many of the great albums on this list, it exists instead in the deep recesses of Christian music history, where it is discovered only by a select few.

  5. Shawn McLaughlin
    November 29, 2011 at 1:15 am

    “The market at the time (today?) chooses to embrace and promote artists whose content is easy to decipher and required little critical thinking on the part of the listener.”

    Yeah, Dave….It really hasn’t changed. In fact, after a short period of enlightenment in the late 80’s early 90’s, that wonderful characteristic of the CCM market has only gotten worse, especially with the co-opting of praise & worship as the only acceptable form of Christian expression in the arts. Ridiculous.

  6. John
    November 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    After owing this album for over 25 years I still cannot put it down. Lyrically it still leaves me breathless as I mull over the message each song brings. Musically it flows and the fingers are tapping on the steering wheel of my car. Nothing is Bothering Me is my favourite song on this album but I never fast forward any of the songs because they all MUST be listened to and enjoyed over and over again. Greatest driving album ever!!

  7. Brett C
    November 29, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    No question that this is a Great album and much lauded as Mark Heard’s best. I have trouble deciding which is his best as he has so many great ones.
    I take no issue with it’s placement on the list at No. 4, It’s great but not my favourite one.
    RIP Mark, your immense talent and spirit is sorely missed in this world.

  8. Adam
    November 30, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    What John said… this is an album that still sounds great today. I agree this was Heard’s finest work. Love, love, love this album.

  9. Tim
    December 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    As we await the Top 3, I’m sure of two of them (by U2 & LN), but that third one . . what could it be? Maybe it’s something unexpected like a Kirk Franklin album, or maybe it’s another amazing album by Michael Knott or one of his bands, or maybe it could be another 2nd Chapter Of Acts album (who don’t have a top 50 listing yet), or maybe it’s an overlooked album by Julie Miller or Kansas. But maybe it is another pioneering Jesus Music band that has not been talked about yet, such as:
    Out Of Darkness – self titled 1970 album that was said to have inspired U2 to make music
    Presence – self titled 1975 masterpiece
    Wilson McKinley – Spirit of Elijah (1971)
    Azitis – Help (1971)
    Concrete Rubber Band – Risen Savior (1969)

    Or perhaps it is the landmark Cool Livin’ album by John Ylvisaker made in 1967, predating Larry Norman’s debut by a full two years. IMO, it’s one of the best albums of the 60’s secular or Christian. Here’s hoping. . .

    • Tim
      December 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      Maybe it’s just the Supertones Strike Back album that was on David’s top 50 countdown but seems to have been forgotten for this one. But I highly doubt it.

      • low5point
        December 9, 2011 at 7:15 pm

        There will be an “oh crap” post with a few titles that were lost while cutting and pasting…or just total brain freezes

  10. Greenchili
    December 10, 2011 at 6:09 am

    Carman – Comin’ On Strong (Body odor edition!)

    In all seriousness outside of U2 & LN I’m kinda lost on this one as well. But Kirk Franklin? Nah.. I’m guessing he would have been on the list at least once or twice if he was gonna make it in the top 50.

    I did notice, however, some that were implied that they would make the list that didn’t. I’m guessing it did not and is gonna go on the “was on the list but got knocked off later on” list.

  11. shawnuel
    December 10, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Dave gave a hint about what the non LN/U2 album might be (at least who it is by) in an earlier post.

    • harvey_d
      December 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      I mentioned my theory somewhere… but hopefully we’ll all find out soon!

      • Don
        December 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm

        “77′s self-titled album”

        Maybe – I don’t think it has been listed yet.

    • Don
      December 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      There are only 497 earlier posts! Any other hints?

      • Shawn McLaughlin
        December 13, 2011 at 1:23 am

        The post with the hint is in the top 50.

    • Tim
      December 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      I actually thought it was a mistake, as I didn’t think there was a better album by that particular band. But maybe you are right.

  12. Greenchili
    December 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    You’ve Got To Sin To Be Saved – Maria McKee?

    I seriously doubt it is D&K No Turning Back… :s

  13. harvey_d
    December 10, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Don :
    “77′s self-titled album”
    Maybe – I don’t think it has been listed yet.

    That’s what I think.

    • Don
      December 10, 2011 at 11:21 pm

      I doubt it is “self titled” I think I remember some back and forth between Shawnuel and David about some new albums that David hadn’t heard before this year. David would be well familiar with the 77s third album. I could be making it all up, though.

      • Shawn McLaughlin
        December 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm

        Don’t remember anything like that. Hang in there…I bet it is coming soon!

    • Don
      December 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm

      Lost Dogs have only Scenic Routes and Little Red Riding Hood on the list. So maybe the third album of the top three is another Lost Dogs disc?

  14. Don
    December 10, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    End Of Silence – Red?
    Until We Have Faces – by Red?
    Both Mute Math albums are on the list

  15. Bill B
    December 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    You think Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin are the top two?? Ha Ha Ha

  16. shawnuel
    December 11, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Carman “Comin’ On Strong”!

    I know the albums but not the order. With respect to Dave I will not divulge them.

    Oh, and I LOVE Tim’s mentions of Out of Darkness, Azitis, Concrete Rubber Band etc. I am a HUGE fan of Us. Apple Corps, especially the second album, Let the Music Take Your Mind. Also like Earthen Vessel, Fraction’s, Moonblood and Search Party. After the Fire member Iva Twydell has a couple of awesome solo records, especially Waiting For the Sun. Plus, I am a huge fan of Malcom and Alwyn’s second record, WildWall. Good call on the John Ylvisaker.

  17. shawnuel
    December 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I disagree with Dave here (most likely) but am glad he “forgot” Supertones in this countdown. A genre like Ska is just too much of a novelty to have the type of generational or musical impact a list like this requires, IMO. Besides, Five Iron Frenzy made MUCH better records than Supertones with more general appeal. If Dave follows through on his threat to do 1,000 best CCM songs, I nominate “Dandelions” from FIF…..one of the few songs that regularly makes me tear up.

  18. ran2slow
    December 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    My guesses for #1 is
    Pat Boone – In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy

  19. TeddyLane
    December 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Why not an album by Wovenhand?

  20. Shawn McLaughlin
    December 13, 2011 at 1:20 am

    I’ve wondered that myself, Teddy. It is possible Dave doesn’t own any Wovenhand. He did state that he had to own the albums to have them in the countdown.

  21. Mr. Bultitude
    December 14, 2011 at 12:38 am

    I think “Secret South” is the best thing that DEE has ever done, but yes, I was wondering why there were no other 16 Horsepower or Woven Hand albums on the list as well.

  22. Jon
    December 14, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Thanks for this review. I have very few regrets in my life, however, one of them is that I left Mark’s final concert at Cornerstone early because I was going with the Guardian guys over to watch Adam Again on a different stage. This was also the only time I’ve ever seen Pierce Pettis live. It was a great show, and I wish I’d stayed for it all…..

    On a side note, I picked up Pat Terry’s “Laugh For A Million Years this week from Itunes. The title track is dedicated to Mark Heard and was played/sung by Pat at Mark’s memorial concert. If you’re a fan of Mark or Pat you should pick it up, it’s a great listen.

  23. Bob
    December 14, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Pierce Pettis – Chase The Buffalo… truly masterpiece!

  24. Shawn McLaughlin
    December 14, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Pierce Pettis – Everything since (and including) Chase the Buffalo……. Pretty much masterpieces!

  25. Don
    December 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Pierce Pettis, David E Edwards – I never got interested in either despite rave reviews. Not sure why.

    • low5point
      December 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      And now you know why creating a list like this is so difficult 🙂

      • Don
        December 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm

        low5point is inerrant, by the way. It is DEE and PP that I question!

  26. SmellyCat
    December 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Does anyone have a copy of “On Turning to Dust” they can upload?
    I’d love to hear it, but it seems almost impossible to find.

  27. December 27, 2011 at 6:17 am

    To throw in my 2 cents: No Lamb?? They only affected churches around the world with their minor key folk/rock/praise for 20 plus years; ….. for all practical purposes inventing Messianic Folk Rock/Pop.

    • shawnuel
      December 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      John. For sure. with just one guy doing a list, many people will find things they don’t agree with. In general, Dave and I aren’t too far away in what we like but there are a few areas where we vary pretty wildly. I know people would be screaming about my omissions if I did such a list. I still think it would be cool to crowdsource a list together. Have many people submit a top 50 or so. It would probably be more representative of a larger demographic.

      • low5point
        December 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm

        I am completely up for this. For the regular readers that want to submit their own Top 50, I will compile and create a “readers” Top 100. I will put together a post after the list is done with a special email to send the lists to

  28. Greenchili
    December 28, 2011 at 6:19 am

    btw. Merry belated Christmas to everyone.

  29. Bill B
    December 31, 2011 at 2:16 am

    low5point :I am completely up for this. For the regular readers that want to submit their own Top 50, I will compile and create a “readers” Top 100. I will put together a post after the list is done with a special email to send the lists to

    Will it be a requirement be that the person has to own the album to be on their list? Not saying that I am going to do a list, but was curious.

    BTW Is this Top 500 list going to get finished in 2011??

    • Bill B
      December 31, 2011 at 3:34 am

      My goodness! I thought I proofread my post? Maybe I will get the Number 1 slot for the poorest grammer in a post? I DO have a 6th grade education!

    • low5point
      December 31, 2011 at 4:49 am

      No..it will not.

      As for the owning of the albums, I put that restriction upon myself as a way to be consistent in my reviews and authentic in my placement. I did rely on the reviews and opinions of m people i trust for some placement, either higher or lower, of some albums listed here. But it is also why there is little to no Black Gospel, Hardcore and instrumental music.

      • Bill B
        January 2, 2012 at 2:17 am

        Kind of thought you were holding back to finish the list as an end of the year finale.

  30. Don
    January 2, 2012 at 2:44 am

    my guesses for the rest

    #3 BTC BTC
    #2 U2 AB
    #1 LN OVTP

    • January 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      Don…can’t for the life of me figure out what BTC is, even with your hint below.

    • January 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir?

      • Don
        January 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm

        Burlap to Cashmere

  31. harvey_d
    January 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    low5point, I’m sure I’ll mention this again in a future comment with some others, but since we’re waiting, and since there’s still a chance (it seems we can’t figure out the 3rd album anyway 😉 ), The Story of Our Lives, the triple album by The Violet Burning, needs to be number one. Nothing else matters. Make it happen. 🙂

    • low5point
      January 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      Any album released after the the countdown started can not be included. But I agree it is one of the truly great records of last year…or any year.

      • don
        January 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm

        Guess that rules out btc as well.

  32. Don
    January 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I guess if you can’t figurre it out it is not secret info.

    1/1/2011 Burlap to Cashmere – Burlap to Cashmere

    • January 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks…I figured it out right as Dave sent me a message with the answer. I happened to be listening to BTC on Spotify and suddenly realized what the acronym was.

      • Don
        January 3, 2012 at 5:10 am

        Release date was actually 7/19/11 – Amazon had the wrong date listed.

      • Don
        January 3, 2012 at 5:15 am


        So, given that I have no idea about one of the top three, do you agree pretty much with Dave about his top three? I am curious about what this great mystery cd is. I’ve spent years and thousands of bucks in the pursuit of good Christian rock – and to be so clueless has my curiosity level pretty high.

        I suppose most readers of this blog also have spent more money on their collections then they would care to admit.

      • January 4, 2012 at 10:33 pm

        Don….I think so. The “mystery CD” is not so much a mystery as you will soon see. It is the one I disagree with the most. Would be in my top 20 for sure…maybe 10.

  33. Don
    January 3, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Don :
    …do you agree pretty much with Dave about his top three?

    (I mean – are they are worthy of being in the top ten or so?).

  34. Greenchili
    January 3, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Don :Shawn
    I suppose most readers of this blog also have spent more money on their collections then they would care to admit.

    Even more so after reading through this blog.. Once I sort through who/what I like the most and prioritize!

    • January 4, 2012 at 10:36 pm

      I’ve been lucky. I first worked as a music buyer in Christian bookstores for 10 years (which is how I met Dave) and now I am the CD review columnist for Christian/Worship Musician Magazine (since 1999) so I haven’t had to pay for a lot of stuff. Just re-issues and such.

  35. Greenchili
    January 3, 2012 at 6:25 am

    So the rumours are true…. I’ve heard that BTC were coming out with a new one. Nice to hear it is out. 😀

  36. Greenchili
    January 3, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Don :my guesses for the rest
    #3 BTC BTC#2 U2 AB#1 LN OVTP

    148. Achtung Baby – U2

    • Don
      January 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      U2 JT then

  37. Greenchili
    February 4, 2012 at 8:13 am

    One can’t help but wonder what direction Mark Heard would have gone in musically without all the pressure and interferance from the labels he was involved with..

    • shawnuel
      February 6, 2012 at 12:20 am

      Well, Chili, I think he was on that path when he died. His last 3 albums, which many consider his finest output, were all on his own, Fingerprint label. Once he got out from under Chris Christian he pretty much followed his own drummer. Ideola was definitely where his head was at that time and What? Records gave him a lot of creative latitude. His next 3 albums were Dry Bones Dance, Second Hand and Satellite Sky.

      • Greenchili
        February 22, 2012 at 6:48 am

        Correct.. but then what direction would he had taken after those 3 albums? That is where my curiosity is peaked.

  38. Steven
    March 26, 2012 at 8:41 am

    great review..awesome artist….I became a Christian in 1983 having come out of the “punk” scene. I didn’t discover Mark Heard until Mosaics and his music immediately impacted the “rebel” within me….I sought out his earlier albums and would spend hours reading the extensive liner notes in those vinyl albums….he has probably been the biggest influence on my christian life as far as his music/lyrics went….completely gutted when he died….I thought God had taken him way too soon and Satellite Sky (my favorite Heard album and arguably his finest hour…I know…you like Victims and so do I) Treasure Of The Broken Land I feel was Heard’s greatest masterpiece and when I see Julie Miller singing it, it always breaks me up….

  39. May 5, 2012 at 1:09 am

    You can hear much of Mark Heard’s amazing catalogue here:


  40. Rob K
    August 26, 2012 at 2:26 am

    low5point :I am completely up for this. For the regular readers that want to submit their own Top 50, I will compile and create a “readers” Top 100. I will put together a post after the list is done with a special email to send the lists to

    Is it too late to send my Top 50 in? The email address is no longer there. If it is too late, then I would like to at least read the reader’s top 100. This has been fascinating so far. Agree and disagree with a lot of your choices. Revisiting some old music I haven’t heard in a while and also finding some new stuff as well. Thank you for all your hard work on this, this is awesome!

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