MARC JONATHAN HANEY
Communicating the word of God is in Marc Jonathan Haney’s blood, you might say. “My great grandfather was in prison and was pardoned by the governor. He then founded a rescue mission in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My grandfather was an American Baptist minister,” Marc tells ChristianMusic.com. “Then, when I went into the Navy, my dad went into seminary and became a pastor.” The line continues, too, through to his son, “He is a Reformed Presbyterian minister in Manhattan, Kansas.”
“There wasn’t a time when I didn’t know Jesus as savior,” Marc avows. “I understood
what it meant that Jesus was Lord, more than just going to Hell.” But rather than
continuing in his ancestors’ footsteps, Marc wanted to be a musician – ever since that
fateful Sunday when millions of Americans had their heads turned by Ed Sullivan and the Beatles.
“The most important thing was to be a rock star,” he confesses. “It was a dream. Then I
realized that that had become where God should have been. I prayed one night and just
gave up everything and told the Lord I wanted to know him and wanted to serve him,”
Marc says. “I didn’t care if I ever played anything. It was up to Him.
“A couple of weeks after that I started to play. My fingers started moving and I just
started to write songs, and was mostly singing to the Lord,” says Marc. “I was finally
satisfied with what I had. The peace was there.”
One of the first pieces Marc wrote and recorded was a Christmas musical, “Let’s Go to
Bethlehem.” “It was indie, which in 1975 meant low budget,” he jokes. “It’s called ten
simple love songs. It was kind of like this little offering.” The songs portray a Christmas
story progression of Joseph wondering what’s going on; the journey; the angels appearing to the shepherds; a lullaby; and the story of Simeon, and so forth, portraying, according to Marc, “the whole idea of God being with us.”
Marc’s music and his voice are friendly, folk and fun, and both reflect his early attachment to (besides the Beatles), Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Randy Newman. “I’ve always appreciated the way Randy Newman has a lot of fun with his songs,” Marc says. Indeed, Marc’s website is full of fun and funny plays on words and little bits. In response to comments on the cleverness of his writing, he chuckles, “I had a religion professor in college. He had a real dry sense of humor. He’d look over at me to see if his jokes had gotten through.”
Marc continued in that tradition, teaching sixth-graders and eighth-graders in Kansas for fifteen years. He would regularly use his humor, guitar and singing voice to entertain and teach his kids. Many of his songs have come from those experiences, including one which the students asked him to perform at their commencement. “The 90 Degree Angle (Just Because I Know It’s Right),” the title song of one of his albums, hints at both the educational, spiritual and humorous qualities that Marc brings to his work.
“Most of the songs on the album ‘Earthlings’ were for a sixth-grade class. I would write a song and sing it for them the last day of school,” Marc says. “The drawing on the back of the album is a student’s picture of me.”
One of his proudest achievements is a song called “Exactly Who I Am,” which Marc wrote for the CharacterKidz’ book “The Richest Poor Kid.” He explains, “I was just happy they picked my song, and then they called and said they wanted me to record it. The story is about a kid who wishes he had good stuff instead of his hand-me-downs. He overlooks the things that he has.”
Marc’s music is enriching for everyone, not just for kids. In fact, he was chosen to play
in a Michelle Shocked concert. “Michelle lets local people perform at her concerts,”
Marc explains. “She liked my song, ‘Franklin County, Kansas,’ and they put me on the
bill. The key line of the song is, ‘desperate isn’t hopeless as long as you keep your faith alive.’”
Besides “recycling a lot of the earlier releases” on CDBaby, through his website, including another popular album, “Wedlings,” Marc touts his “LTD Tour (Limited Theological Discourse)” also with the requisite number of word plays. He also performs at a local mental health “clubhouse.” “I like being there and the people appreciate me. A whole new community for me,” Marc says. He will also be playing in Iceland in a future trip to the homeland of his wife.
For a man as talented and dedicated as Marc Jonathan Haney, it’s a lot like when he was in the Navy. “Wherever there was a chance to play, I did. I used to go out and play on the beach,” he says. “A lot of concerts were for just two or three people or whoever was there.”