Sunday, February 24, 2008
Larry Norman (April 8, 1947 – February 24, 2008)
Christian music artist Larry Norman died today. As a kid, I was a big fan of his music. Well, even as an adult I was a big fan of his music. I have quite collection of LN CD's and albums.
I don't really know what to say- Larry was only visiting this planet, and he knew it. It saddens me he's gone, but...he's now in another land, a much better land.
This website recorded LN's final words written yesterday:
I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home.
My brother Charles is right, I wont be here much longer. I cant do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone. In the past you have generously supported me with prayer and finance and we will probably still need financial help.
My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside. But still it will be costly because of funeral arrangement, transportation to the gravesite, entombment, coordination, legal papers etc. However money is not really what I need, I want to say I love you.
I'd like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be a funeral posted here on the website, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.
Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.
It was around 1980 when a guy at church gave me some Christian rock albums on cassette. Up until that time, I was listening to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and most of the popular rock on the radio. He gave me Resurrection Band's Awaiting Your Reply, and a few others I just simply don't remember anymore. The music was, well, pretty bad. I really tried to like it. The music was simply not as good as "real" music. The guitar players were not Jimmy Page, if you know what I mean.
He also gave me a cassette of Larry Norman, telling me it was not as "heavy" but I might like it. The album he had recorded for me was Norman's Only Visiting This Planet. Indeed, the music was not as heavy, but for some reason, the lyrics and music resonated with me. I really liked the album. It was...real. I didn't feel like the music was trying to be preachy or contrived. The songs spoke about rejection, loneliness, politics, racism, the facade of popular music, and...often and overtly....Jesus. I was hooked.
During the 1980's, as I went from a pimply teenager to an adult, I tracked down a lot of Norman's recordings. This was not easy. Norman had totally rejected the CCM "industry." His music was not easy to find. But, I did manage to find some rare gems. His album, So Long Ago The Garden had been pulled from Christian bookstores because of a controversial cover. somewhere down in my basement, I have an original MGM copy of this album. Larry then began his own company, distributing his own records. At this time, he had his father doing the orders. I still have some letters from Larry's dad, thanking me for my interest in his son's music.
I first saw Larry Norman perform in 1982 (somewhere, I have pictures and a recording from the concert). I recall going backstage to meet Larry. He would stay for hours after a concert to talk with people. During the 80's and early 90's, I saw Larry perform many times. Larry was always a treat to watch perform. He wasn't a great musician, but he was real.
Well, I wouldn't call Larry theologically "Reformed." In fact, as I reflect on the theology of Norman, I guess he was a quasi-dispensational, quasi-Arminian, if not bordering on Pelagianism at times. As my own theology shifted, I lost interest in Norman's music. It was not easy to listen to "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" and his other dispensational eschatological songs. That being said, I can honestly say that Norman's music was very influential in my life, and I would still classify it as "real" music. I still don't like Contemporary Christian music. I probably never will. That's why I'm tempted to say, Norman did not really do Contemporary Christian Music. Larry was a singer/songwriter who happened to be a Christian.