Fingerprint Studio was a rather modest operation. In the early years, the control room was in the back of a Dodge truck parked in Mark and Janet's driveway. Drums were recorded in the living room, overdubs in the kitchen, and lead vocals in the bedroom. Later, Mark found a rare Trident console and moved the recording equipment into the garage. It was there in that small studio that I was first introduced to the music of Pat Terry, Tonio K, T Bone Burnett, Bruce Cockburn, Tom Howard and others. And the relationships that followed the music were to significantly enrich my life.
I seldom felt comfortable around Mark. Perhaps it was the sense you got of his unswerving intellectual and artistic integrity. I found him very demanding - not by anything he said or did, but by his presence. It was like getting too close to a flame. Yet my apprehension of his unspoken challenges unfailingly gave way to the lasting glow of inspiration. Despite his formidable abilities, Mark was always faithful to execute the small, regular acts of friendship - a weekly phone call just to chat, checking in on my wife when I was on the road, dropping by the office for a hot dog and a fresh round of jokes to lighten our load.
When I first met Mark in the summer of 1984, he had already experienced deep disappointment through his career. There were the early signs of a certain weariness caused by the continual clash of his high standards with that peculiar brand of Christianity that gives birth to a shallow expression of the faith. I was new to the record business, and as yet unaware of how the horizon of our dreams often seems to recede as we approach it. But through eight years of working with Mark, I learned that the bottom line was to be unrelenting in our commitment to quality work, and unsparing in our devotion to each other.
At a brief graveside ceremony for Mark in his hometown of Macon, Georgia, the minister cited two scriptures that seemed especially apropos. From Revelation 14 and Isaiah 57 he read: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord ... that they may rest for their labor ..." "The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart, and devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil, he enters into peace ..." Mark, at least, and at last, has his peace. But his life and music will continue to challenge us to shake our fists at the mists that envelop us.
Tom Willet ( CCM, October 1992 )
Copyright © 1992 CCM Magazine
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