"Jesus told the truth, Jesus showed the way. There's one more thing I'd like to say. They nailed him to the cross, they laid him in the ground, but they shoulda known you can't keep a good man down. I feel good every day, I don't wanna lose it. All I wanna know is why should the devil have all the good music? I've been filled, I feel okay, Jesus is the rock and he rolled my blues away."--Larry Norman.
Art is more engaging than propaganda.--Larry Norman
Larry Norman, known as "The Father of Christian Rock," passed away on Sunday at age 60. He was the original christian rocker who set out to abandon image, so I must pay omage to this unique figure in my faith ancestry.
With songs like Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music? (a playful, old-school, fifities' sounding rock song), Larry Norman challenged the prevailing notion that "christian music" couldn't have a beat or edgy, current lyrics. My personal favorite tunes from him are: "The Outlaw," "Reader's Digest," "Righteous Rocker," "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus?" and I Wish We'd All Been Ready. His lyrics were candid, raw, purposely composed in "the language of the people," and would surely be banned in today's world of CCM. He openly sang about drag queens, drugs, alcohol, sex, contracting 'gonorrhea on valentines day', and people 'looking for the perfect lay' (Now I'd love to hear that on Christian radio).
Listening to Larry Norman's music in 2008 may sound outdated and corny now, but his lyrics still pack a punch. At the time, in the late sixties and early seventies, his style was revolutionary in christian circles. He was beloved by the young hippies involved in the Jesus Movement and loathed by "traditional" church folks, who deemed hymns as the only appropriate and valid type of worship music. He paved the way for diverse musical art forms to emerge from the christian community: rock, rap, r&b, pop, punk, ska, alternative, and even contemporary. That is, before commercialism and IMAGE pigeon-holed the mainstream christian music industry. This reality drove Larry Norman into mainstream self-banishment for many years. He once said:
I feel that Christian music is now a subculture directed towards the Christians. It's not really being exposed to non-Christians and it's not really created for non-Christians, so non-Christians almost never hear any of this music.
Larry Norman didn't really have a "singer's voice," but his message to the world and influence over methods of "christian" art is something that should be remembered and learned from. He often said he was only visiting this planet. Now, he's finally gone home. Rest In Peace Larry!This video is a comical parable from the creative mind of Larry Norman called "The Tune."