Although I circled all around the places where Mark Heard traveled while I was in the music business, I never met the man. He died, tragically, of a heart attack before I had that pleasure. I met all the people he produced --- Harrod and Funck, John Fischer, Pierce Pettis, and more, but never heard or met the man. That's my loss.
It was on July 4, 1992 that Mark had a heart attack on stage while performing with Pierce Pettis and Kate Miner, at the Cornerstone Festival, near Chicago. Heard finished his set and went to the hospital immediately afterwards. Two weeks after being released from the hospital, he had a cardiac arrest and died on August 16th of 1992. Before Heard's death, he had released three albums, been included on the Legacy II sampler from Windham Hill's High Street label, and was nearly finalizing a mainstream contract with Bruce Cockburn's label, True North Records in Canada. There was also interest from Sony's Columbia Records label for distribution in the US. But it was not to be.
In this episode of Wide Angle, John Fischer, who knew Mark well, speaks of the "burden of the artist," meaning an artist's experience of reality more deeply than the average person --- a burden, whether pain or joy. Mark was one who felt pain deeply, the weight of which may have contributed to his early death. As John opines, unlike some, Mark would walk outside and not just see the fathomless beauty of the stars but hear the "groan of humanity and history screaming at him from the sky." You wonder if life would have ultimately been too much for him. The show kicks off with his great song, Satellite Sky," a testimony to what he heard in those night skies.
But the "burden of the artist" lives on after Mark. On this show you hear it in the voice of Karen Peris, of The Innocence Mission, a wistful wondering. Well, there's much more, including an interview with Bebo Norman, but hear it for yourself, right here.