Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Larry Norman: RIP

"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Listening to Larry Norman's music in 2008 may sound outdated and corny now, but his lyrics still pack a punch.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."


Terry said...

Hi Tia Lynn! I hope this means you are feeling better. Please tell me you weren't sick on your 25th birthday?!

Tia Lynn said...

Yes, I am feeling much better. But I was still recovering on my bday. But my good friend took me shopping and I still had a fun day! Thanks for thinking of me!

tilly hester said...

I've been a Larry Norman fan for decades and I have never come across "the tune." I absolutely loved it! Thanks for sharing. May Larry be in Jesus's arms at this very moment!

Anonymous said...

Why would you want to hear promiscuous sex and getting gonorrhea on christian radio? Larry Norman was the worst thing that happened to "christian" music.

Tia Lynn said...

Umm, I think you misunderstand anon. Larry Norman didn’t advocate promiscuous sex or drug use, he sang openly about them. He was opposed to such things. The reason I would like to hear more music like Larry Norman’s on Christian radio is because of the vivid candor in his lyrics. It’s not the over-used, vague cliches that usually make up bubble-gum Christian contemporary music.

maybell said...

Larry Norman was one of a kind. The Tune is a great way to pay tribute to him. Reader's Digest is one of my favorites, too. Have a good day Tia Lynn.

musicmommy3 said...

I LOVE LOVE LOOOOOOOVE Larry Norman's music, and stand in his time. I love the candor, rawness, and stinging truth to his lyrics ("the sheets that you wear are the sheets your children sleep on")

He said what many of us are thinking. What's wrong with Christians talking about sex and gonorrhea in songs? People need to be talking about that stuff so that the truth can come out. That lifestyle is dangerous (sex outside of marriage) and, of course, Jesus is the answer to our empty lives.

musicmommy3 said...

Glad that you had a fun b-day. Who did you go shopping with?

Tia Lynn said...

Thanks Ang! Maura and Hannah took me shopping in Commerce. Very fun.