Whiteheart: Top 40 Songs of All Time

Introduction

Some great bands have less than great names. I’ve heard that Pearl Jam based their name on Eddie Vedder’s great-grandma’s jam. Lynyrd Skynyrd was inspired by a gym teacher. I’ve also heard that the adult contemporary legend (and early Whiteheart singer) Steve Green chose the name Whiteheart. It’s a great name for a soft pop group that sings songs like “We are His Hands,” but it seems out of step with the aggressive darkness of “Inside.” So, the name may not have fit like one of Steve Green’s sports coats, but the name’s lack of coolness only tells you so much.

One thing it does speak to is the metanoia the band experienced from their debut in 1982 to their last album in 1997. In other words, the band changed considerably over time. While styles changed, Whiteheart did not do what many Christian bands have done—copy the popular style of the time. Their music was always influenced by what was popular (U2, Toto, Peter Gabriel, Journey), but was never a carbon copy.

Once the band added singer Rick Florian in 1986, they perfected a style that was uniquely Whiteheart. They weren’t afraid to rock, but they thrived in their ability to perform medium-level songs. Dual lead vocals on many songs contrasted the high and “pretty” voice of Florian with the lower and gruff voice of Mark Gersmehl.

Their catalog is large and deep. Some of their better songs were never even played on Christian radio (back when Christian radio played some rock songs). One of their best albums is Tales of Wonder. The title and the cover both conjure a sense of fantasy. It’s the Wrinkle in Time of early-nineties rock. Songs like “Raging of the Moon,” “Say the Word,” “Light A Candle,” and “Morning Star” add to the mystery. They are wonderful in a very, very literal meaning of the word.

The climax of this pinnacle album is “Light A Candle.” It brings together everything right about Whiteheart. It builds as well as “Stairway to Heaven.” Both lead singers and excellent backing vocalists lend their talents in complementary ways. Additionally, the song embraces one of the band’s best lyrical themes—the light of Christ shown in the world through the church.

I hope this brief introduction has whet your appetite for these poorly named, but “wickedly talented” Christian rock legends. Who knows maybe they will win an award and John Travolta can screw up their name into something cool.

The Top 40

2022 marks the 40th anniversary of the birth of Whiteheart, hence the Top 40. We realize no one will 100% agree with our selections but we hope that in spite of that, you will appreciate the time and effort we put into creating this list. We have been fans of the band for nearly their entire 40-year history. This has been a labor of love for sure. Bonus: For your listening pleasure, we’ve included a Spotify playlist with the Top 40 which you can find at the end of the article.

40. The Vine (1997)

Subtle but catchy guitar work, understated yet effective rhythm section with additional percussion provided by Steve Hindalong (The Choir), and Whiteheart’s trademark harmonies weaving in and out of the song. “The Vine” is the perfect song to kick things off for our list.

39. Edge of the Dream (1987)

Whiteheart had assembled their most talented lineup in 1987 to record Emergency Broadcast. Unfortunately, that record did not totally pay off and it took 2 more years and the recording of Freedom for the band to reach its full potential. Even so, Broadcast has several quality tracks. Closing ballad “Edge of the Dream” is one of the strongest examples.

38. Jerusalem (1985)

This is the oldest song on our list. The only track recorded before Rick Florian became the band’s lead vocalist. Echoing the message of Psalm 122:6 this song reminds us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Whiteheart
37. His Heart Was Always In It (1992)

Just listen to those Chris McHugh drums at the climax of the song. Whiteheart was always great at providing those moments of musical magic.

36. Looking Glass (1997)
'Cause I'm tired of the pain
I'm tired of the emptiness
I am ready to dream
'Cause You don't see me in the past
In your looking glass
35. Read the Book (Don’t Wait for the Movie) (1986)

The first Whiteheart song I ever heard. I ordered this cassette because it promised to be a Christian alternative for the MTV generation. Anything associated with MTV had to be cool, right? My 12-year-old logic may have been flawed, but I was not disappointed with this album and especially this song. The opening drums as the guitars build were awesome and the rest is history.

34. No Taboo (1987)

“No Taboo” is one of the few songs written by long-time lead singer, Rick Florian. Makes you wish he had written more often. It’s quirky and a little funky but it also highlights the band’s impressive talent with four different members taking turns at lead vocals.

33. Once and For All (1993)
Oh won't you come with me, To a hill called Calvary
See the face of a bruised and dying man

Can anyone explain, The mystery beyond the pain of this place
Where love is born again
32. The Beat of a Different Drum (1986)

This song is pure 1980s! Pounding drums. Big gang vocals. Elements of rock and dance blending effortlessly. Yes, it might sound a bit dated at this point, but I think that is a big part of its charm. 2022 is not awesome. The 1980s were pretty awesome. I’ll take 80s sounding music any day.

31. Power Tools (1989)

On “Power Tools” the band takes aim at those who would use the name of God and abuse a position of prominence to increase their personal wealth and power. The song was written as a scathing response to the televangelist scandals of the late 80s. Not sure how many Christian artists would write a song like this today, but we need them to.

30. Key to our Survival (1987)
In the heart of a world
Full of deception
Paradise lost
Had been redeemed
Love undeserved
Had made an exception
The key to our survival
Was all in the arrival of a King
29. Powerhouse

While Powerhouse, the album, is a step down from Freedom, it was understandable considering the lineup changes the band went through after their magnum opus. They opted for a more straight forward approach to songs on Powerhouse. The title track is a great example of that sound with blistering guitars and in-your-face vocals and production. It clearly paid off as Powerhouse is one of their most successful albums.

Whiteheart
28. Lay it Down (1990)

I’ve written about this song before but it more can always be said. Whiteheart was unique in the Christian rock world for many reasons but mainly due to the blending of multiple lead vocalists. Primarily Rick Florian and Mark Gersmehl. While Rick handled the majority of the lead vocals, Mark contributed quite a bit and that combination added an extra dimension most other bands simply couldn’t match. “Lay it Down” is one of the best examples of their voices complimenting one another. When Rick comes in late in the song, it gets me every time. And bonus, Anthony Sallee’s bass work on this song is next level.

27. The Cry (1993)
Oh hear the watchman cry
The bridegroom is a-coming
Oh hear the watchman cry
From the midnight's lonely tower

Listen the watchman cries
The wedding feast is dawning
Keep watching the eastern sky
For the chosen day and hour

Cry out that time is near
When in clouds of glory He'll appear
Sing for the end of fear
From the midnight's lonely tower
26. I’ll Meet You There Someday (1989)

This song was instrumental in getting me through the very difficult time of leaving my home and all my friends when I moved away from Panama to start college in Nashville. Seriously. I listened to this song a lot during that season of my life. In the pantheon of great goodbye songs, this is probably my go-to. The whole band kills it but it’s especially gratifying to hear Tommy Sims and Gordon Kennedy’s harmonies on the verses.

We chase the future into past
Only to find it never lasts
And by the time it's gone,
The pain is so strong in the end
But listen my friend
Although we've lost what was before
Forever will bring us the chance once more
And in that time we'll see, what was meant to be
A special moment to cherish for all of our lives
And we'll know in time
25. Even the Hardest Heart (1995)

For the purposes of this list, I voted for the radio edit of this song. I love the simplicity of the album version, but I believe the radio edit is a better representation of Whiteheart’s sound. We have an entire article built around the theme of this song, which you can read here if you so desire.

24. Bye Bye Babylon (1989)

One of the best opening songs of all-time. It also sports one of my favorite rock and roll screams as well. What more could you want?

23. Gabriella (1992)

Mark Gersmehl co-wrote this song to his future wife before he had even met her. It’s beautiful and heartfelt. A great ballad in Whiteheart’s catalog.

22. Inside (1995)

I’ve had a complicated relationship with this album since it came out during my freshman year in college. It was Whiteheart’s first album with Curb Records – a mainstream record label. It was produced by Ken Scott, a longtime producer who had worked with artists such as David Bowie, Supertramp, and Kansas. The story goes, he infamously listened to Whiteheart’s previous album, Highlands, one time to get a feel for what the band brought to the table. He proceeded to pretty much do the opposite of everything they had done before.

Inside is dark, a little angry, and lacking any of the intoxicating highs of their previous albums. Yet, somehow, the talent and skill of the band still shone through. The title track is probably the best encapsulation of the album.

21. How Many Times (Seventy Times Seven) (1986)
How many times
Have You wept from the anguish
Of all my shame?
How many times
Have I nailed You up
On Your cross of pain?
You bled from the broken heart
And I was to blame
Ooh, seventy times seven
Whiteheart

20. Desert Rose (1990)

One of their biggest hits. “Desert Rose” is a stirring ballad highlighted by the incredible vocals of Rick Florian. If you need encouragement, you aren’t going to find many better songs.

19. Find a Way (1995)

This album came out during my freshman year in college. It was a good year for me, even though it was full of transition and change. Still, there were times when life would overwhelm my 17-year-old heart and I would inevitably turn to music. Most of the time, I would try to find songs of encouragement or hope. But sometimes I would lean on songs like “Find a Way”. There was an authenticity in the song to which I responded. There are no easy answers found in the song. It’s dark and confused, fully recognizing how hard life can be at times. But, amidst all of that, the song ends in faith with the line, “I still believe, still believe.”

Sometimes, (most of the time?) it’s not easy, but we hold on to our faith because we know who the source of that faith is. And nothing quite says, “this is a Whiteheart” song like the three-part harmonies of Rick Florian, Mark Gersmehl, and Billy Smiley during the final refrain.

18. Nothing But the Best (1993)

Sometimes, Whiteheart just wanted to let loose and rock. This perfectly captures what they were capable of as a band. I feel like modern Christian music has lost something in the years since bands like Whiteheart were paving the way. Can you imagine any current band that gets any radio play pulling off a song like this? I can’t. And that makes me sad but also it helps me appreciate Whiteheart even more.

Whiteheart

17. Raging of the Moon (1992)

This song has a creepy vibe that I just love. It was bold choice to open an album with a song like this, but it definitely paid off for them. Every instrument gets a chance to shine, including Billy Smiley’s 12-string acoustic guitar. A truly one-of-a-kind song in Whiteheart’s catalog.

16. Love is Everything (1997)

I recently commented on a Facebook post about Whiteheart’s final album, Redemption. I said there was a sense of melancholy that permeates the album. I think this song captures what I mean by that. It’s not hopeless. Not in the least bit, but most of the songs have a subdued quality to them that was unusual for much of Whiteheart’s music. “Love is Everything” works so well because even when you strip away all the production and the layers of instrumentation and vocals, Whiteheart knew how to write a great melody with real heart.

15. The Flame Passes On (1993)

Lyrically this song touches on the Christian faith spreading across generations and geographical boundaries despite opposition and persecution. Musically it is an incredibly catchy, but fairly straightforward pop/rock song. Keyboardist Mark Gersmehl takes lead vocal duties here, but the 3-part harmony on the chorus is what really steals the show.

14. Unchain (1992)

Drop the chains from my heart and hands
Don't want to be just a halfway man
Got a world of love, I feel deep inside

But then I go, hit a wall of pride
For if you stop, take a look at me
I want you seeing what I want you to see

No storybook there's no guarantee
Still a voice of love is calling you and me
Unchain me from this poverty, release my soul

13. Independence Day (1990)

I would wager that “Independence Day” is one of Whiteheart’s most well-known songs. And it’s well deserved. It’s got it all: passion, great message, an incredible guitar solo by new guitarist Brian Wooten, and soaring vocals by Rick Florian. Plus, a pretty rad keyboard intro.

12. Remember This (1997)

I loved this song so much that I convinced my soon-to-be wife to play it during our wedding recessional. I love it even more now.

11. Storyline (1990)

We have at least two articles that reference this song, which you can check here and here. Both of those articles deal with the message of the song, more than the music. As far as the music is concerned, the song is the perfect mid-tempo rocker. It uses dynamics expertly, with quiet and spacious verses transitioning to the louder and more aggressive chorus. Rick Florian always sounded great but his voice is used to full effect on this song.

10. Who Owns You (1992)

The opening lines “I’m being swallowed by America, losing my soul in America” are even more relevant today than they were 30 years ago. Whiteheart was at their best when Rick and Mark shared lead vocals. This usually happened in their slower tempo songs, so it was great to hear them trade off vocals in a rocker like “Who Owns You.”

9. Invitation (1989)

I love the sound of the opening guitar riff. I love the fact that we get three different lead vocalists on this song. I even love the weird voice that comes in during the guitar solo. Most of all though, I appreciate Brown Bannister’s production on this song. The rougher edges are not smoothed out. Whiteheart was a band whose songs were generally polished to perfection. While I can appreciate that quality it was good to get a song here and there that was loud and messy. “Invitation” was all that and more.

8. Let it Go (1989)

One summer during college I worked as cashier at a grocery store in St. Louis. Whiteheart’s Freedom album was in my regular rotation even though by this time it was nearly a decade old. I vividly remember pulling up to the parking lot to start my workday and staying in the car an extra minute or so just so I could finish “Let it Go.” I also remember my coworkers laughing at me as I played the air drums in the car. I regret NOTHING! The ending of this song is so good you simply can’t turn it off before it’s over.

7. Light a Candle (1992)

Anthemic doesn’t come close to capturing the mood and sound of this song. I’m basically at a place in my life that if you can’t appreciate this song, at least some elements of it, then we are probably not going to be good friends. I’ll be nice to you and love you like I’m supposed to, but our relationship cannot move beyond that. I draw the line here.

Whiteheart

6. Heaven of My Heart (1993)

Earnestness has been out of fashion for some time. Maybe that is why Whiteheart never achieved more success and recognition. Sure, they were successful and were always in the conversation for best Christian Rock band, but based on their catalogue, they should have reached even higher highs. “Heaven of My Heart” is heart-on-the-sleeve earnest. It’s also an intricate and impressive musical production. Every note, every instrument, every beat is precisely and perfectly selected. They reached for the heavens when they created this song. Personally, I think they succeeded.

5. Sing Your Freedom (1989)

What does it say about an album that this is the 4th best song on it? Even though it didn’t land in our top spot, there might not be a better song in Whiteheart’s entire catalogue that more clearly demonstrates what they were capable of. And if you were ever lucky enough to hear this song in concert, you witnessed something even more special.

4. Say the Word (1992)

Based on Isaiah 55:11, “Say the Word” was a number 1 Christian radio hit for the band. We have touched on this theme throughout this article, but this song may be the best example in their catalog of how great Whiteheart could sound vocally when the high tenor of Rick Florian contrasted with the soulful baritone of Mark Gersmehl. A truly great song worthy of a top 5 spot on this list.

3. Let the Kingdom Come (1989)

This may be the best example I’ve ever heard of a song that builds. It starts with a catchy bass line provided by the great Tommy Sims. Next, we get three verses that start out fairly mellow, but get increasingly more intense. Then comes the bridge followed by a keyboard led musical interlude. Finally, we are treated to a guitar led jam session before the gang vocals come in to bring the house down. There are three or four points where they could have ended the song and it would have been perfectly fine. Yet Whiteheart decided to just keep giving us more and more musical goodness.

2. Over Me (1989)

When I first heard this song, I did not even realize it was Whiteheart. I was at a friend’s house hanging out in his back yard. His older brother was blasting this song on his boom box. It was one of the coolest songs I had ever heard. Then, at right around the 4-minute mark, the swirling guitars kick in and guitarist Gordon Kennedy takes over the lead vocal duties and “Over Me” became THE coolest song I had ever heard. 33 years later it is still on my short list for best song ever.

Whiteheart

1. The River Will Flow (1989)

This is my favorite song of all time. Not just my favorite Whiteheart song. My favorite song. Rick Florian is my favorite singer of all time and weirdly enough, he doesn’t sing on this song. The lead vocals are handled by Mark Gersmehl, who does some of the best and most emotional work of his career. “The River Will Flow” is an expertly written, arranged, and performed masterpiece.

I would contend that throughout much of their career, Whiteheart was consumed with the idea of the Kingdom of God, here and now and yet to come. One day, I am going to further explore that recurring theme in their music. For today, it’s enough to point to “The River Will Flow” as perhaps the perfect summation of that catechism.

Final Thoughts

There you have it. The Rambling Ever On Whiteheart Top 40. Agree, disagree, discuss, and debate in the comment section or on our social media pages. Thanks for reading!

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11 thoughts on “Whiteheart: Top 40 Songs of All Time

  • August 8, 2022 at 12:01 pm
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    Great list.

    But, seriously… How is “Let You First Thought Be Love” not on the list?

    Reply
  • August 8, 2022 at 1:29 pm
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    Thanks for sharing this article. “Desert Rose” is one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I’ve heard.

    Reply
  • August 8, 2022 at 11:50 pm
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    So…interesting list.

    I’m definitely a White Heart aficionado–I’ve seen them many times in concert, wrote the band and received a letter back from M.G. when I was going through a difficult time in my life and have collected most, if not all, of their catalog through the years.

    I was very disappointed when they stopped recording.

    You missed on some great tunes off their first two recordings: “Draw the Line” –off 1982’s “White Heart”–showcases Steve Green’s harder vocals and Dann Huff’s pre-Giant guitar licks. “Draw the Line” off 1982’s “Vital Signs” is more pop than rock, but Scott Douglass and Mark Gersmehl sound great together. Both songs are available in I-Tunes as is their entire catalog.

    I agree that “Freedom” was a huge turning point for them and often blast “Sing Your Freedom” and “Bye, Bye Babylon” when I can, but nine songs from that album is about four or five too many.

    You left off “Fly Eagle Fly,” “Maybe Today,” “Silhouette,” ” A Love Calling,” and “Answer the Call” with all the Freedom selections taking up room. You also left off possibly their second best rock song–“Little Drummer Boy.”

    Two sleepers are Gersmehl’s “Speak Softly” and “Man Overboard”–he really hit his stride on those last two albums. Sort of like Harrison toward the latter end of The Beatles.

    Anyway I dig that you reminded many of how great White Heart is/was.

    Reply
    • August 9, 2022 at 8:39 am
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      Thanks for the response!

      Our voters feel that Freedom is their best album. Two of our voters hold Freedom as the best Christian Rock album of all time. That is why so many songs from that album made this list. It’s just that good.

      If we were to replace 4 or 5 songs from Freedom with the songs you listed above, then Freedom ends up with just 4 or 5 songs on this list and Tales of Wonder would get 8. (It has 7 in our Top 40.) Powerhouse would get 7. (It has 5 in our Top 40.) As much as I love those albums, they don’t deserve to be better represented in a Top 40 than Freedom.

      I will add, “Love Calling”, “Maybe Today”, and “Fly Eagle Fly” all received strong consideration to make the list. All great songs.

      Reply
  • August 9, 2022 at 7:23 am
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    What a great list! I agree with it all, but I would have to add a #41 — “He’s Returning” just to give a nod to ol’ Steve Green and his attempt at golden-voice rock!

    Reply
    • August 9, 2022 at 8:40 am
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      “He’s Returning” is a fantastic song! It very nearly made the final cut.

      Reply
  • August 13, 2022 at 4:47 pm
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    I love that you did this list…because if there are two things I love, it’s (1) lists like this, and (2) WhiteHeart. However, my list would look considerably different than yours. For example, my quick top ten would be:

    1) Let the Kingdom Come
    2) Independence Day
    3) How Many Times (Seventy Times Seven)
    4) Once and For All
    5) His Heart Was Always In It
    6) Montana Sky
    7) The Vine
    8) Nothing But the Best
    9) Steel & Stone
    10) Gabriela

    Honorable Mention:
    Powerhouse
    We Are His Hands
    Jerusalem
    Morningstar
    Fly Eagle Fly
    The River Will Flow
    The Flame Passes On

    Reply
    • August 17, 2022 at 10:53 am
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      Good list! Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  • September 2, 2022 at 4:15 am
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    Great list, and a fun look back at one of the bands that will always stick with me. My parents were huge White Heart fans, and I grew up listening to them from Freedom onward. I was even lucky enough to see them live twice, once for Highlands and the other for their final appearances for Redemption at Moody Bible’s bookstore. While I would later become more of a fan of Christian metalcore and heavier bands, White Heart still holds a strong influence in my life, and each album has no skippable songs.

    If there are any songs I’d say are missing, I’d say they were:
    Maybe Today- a favorite ballad of mine
    Steel & Stone- that chorus sticks with me to this day
    Jesus- The final song from their final album. To me, this song encapsulates WH’s entire mission and reason for existing.

    Reply
    • September 2, 2022 at 9:50 am
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      Thanks for the comment Greg! I agree with you completely about the song “Jesus.” I nearly included a similar comment to yours in the article. It seemed especially fitting that it was their final song.

      Reply

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