Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

I found a fantastic article on The Huffington Post – an Internet newspaper and blogging site.  The following is writtenlarry-norman.jpg by Mark Joseph, and appeared in today’s Huffington.  When I was a brand new Christian I discovered Larry Norman for myself.  His music thrilled me – it was an outlet for my soul.  I hope you will discover or re-discover Larry’s music yourself.  He’s so interesting.  But be ready to be offended or bowled over by his candid observations.  He doesn’t pull any punches. 

 “Larry Norman, the most amazing artist you’ve never heard of has died. I found Norman’s 1976 record ‘Only Visiting This Planet’ on vinyl when I was a kid and was amazed at Norman’s creative genius-later I wrote a chapter on him in my book The Rock & Roll Rebellion.

“Norman will be mentioned in obits as the Father of Christian Rock, but that’s a misunderstanding of who he was. Someone once said “I’m too saved for the Sinners and the Saved don’t want me around” and that best described Norman’s amazing life and career.

“He first cracked the pop charts in the late 60’s with his band People and their smash hit ‘I Love You,’ but became disgruntled when Capitol Records wouldn’t let him call his album “We Need A Whole Lot More Jesus and A Lot Less Rock & Roll” and put a painting of his Master on the cover. That led Norman to quit the band and go solo, recording for MGM Records, but they too tired of his religious imagery and Norman soon formed his own label, Solid Rock Records. The Christian world was freaked out by the blond hippie and had little use for his music and despite his association with the term “Christian Rock” he was always an outsider and always strived to make his records for everybody.

“While Christian Rock is sometimes assailed as formulaic and derivative, Norman was anything but and his admirers included Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Pixies, Van Morrison, John Mellencamp and Sammy Davis, Jr. among others.

“Martin Luther, no slouch of a songwriter himself once said ‘Why should the Devil have all the good tunes,’ and Norman took that line and wrote a memorable song ‘Why Should the Devil Have All The Good Music’ which included these lines:

“‘I want the people to know that He saved my soul but I still like to listen to the radio/They say rock and roll is wrong give you one more chance/I say I feel so good I gotta get up and dance/There’s nothing wrong with playing blues licks/If you gotta reason tell me to my face/Why should the Devil have all the good music’

“Norman further alienated many churchgoers with his song ‘Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus’ which went: ‘Gonorrhea on Valentine’s Day/You’re still looking for the perfect lay/You think rock and roll will set you free/But honey you’ll be dead before you’re 33’

“And only the eclectic Larry Norman could write a song about his Master Jesus, comparing him to a U.F.O. and singing this memorable line: “If there’s life on other planets than I’m sure that He must know and He’s been there once already and has died to save their souls”

“Norman gave the world one last gift as he lay dying dictating these words shortly before his heart gave out. Who wouldn’t want to go out like this?

“‘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… I won’t be here much longer. I can’t do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone…My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside… I want to say I love you. I’d like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort…Goodbye, farewell, we’ll meet again Somewhere beyond the sky. I pray that you will stay with God. Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.'”


Comments on: "Larry Norman – Dead at 60 – The Man Who Introduced Me to Christian Rock" (2)

  1. The following is a link to a trailer on youtube for the new documentary titled “Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman”

    The next public screening is in Late Feb at Cinequest Film Festival, San Jose California

    Thanks Andrew

    • Andrew wrote the above comment to bring information to light about an affair Larry Norman may have had in Australia that resulted in the birth of a son named Daniel. The boy and his mother are trying to have him recognized through legal channels as Larry’s progeny. I understand that the matter will be decided in the courts sometime soon. I’m not going to make a judgement about Daniel’s relationship to Larry in this column. My opinion won’t amount to anything in this matter. I do want to write and say that I appreciate Andrew bringing this information to my attention. I really do.

      The YouTube movie trailer sited above got my attention. I followed some links in YouTube to the discussion about Larry’s illegitimate son (if, in fact, he is Larry’s son), and its impact on various lives.

      Here is my comment. It’s very, very difficult to separate any man from his music and his message. Where do you attempt to draw a line in a soul? The man and the message he brings, while not “one and the same,” are bound to each other with creatively imaginative spiritual cords. That is, when anyone is touched by a message, 99 times out of a hundred he or she will associate the message (and its music) with the messenger. For example, I’ve heard of people wondering if their relationship with Jesus was legitimate because they had come to Christ through the preaching of Jimmy Swaggart … a fallen messenger. Others have had the same wonderment over the likes of Jim Bakker (of PTL fame) … another prominent fallen messenger.

      When a man or woman receives and believes the message of a messenger, in this case the Good News, and that News changes their life and its direction, of course there will questions. That’s the “human response.”

      In my years of ministering to people who have experienced the emotional and spiritual turmoil that results from the moral failure of a messenger I have repeatedly counseled, “Try your best NOT to confuse the frailty of the messenger with the FACT of the message (especially the Good News about Jesus) – seeing that there are multitudes of messengers carrying the SAME message who have NOT failed.”

      Larry Norman may have failed, may have fallen, and that is a shame. He was a good messenger. But he was not … never, ever … the PERFECT messenger. He was one of us. I’m not saying that to excuse him for alleged sinful behavior. (For that matter, I’m not suggesting that we excuse anyone charged with the task of sharing the Good News about Jesus from the consequences of a fall.) I am saying that I can guarantee you – even if he didn’t father Daniel, Larry Norman was not sinless. He failed in other areas … of that I am sure. And how can I be so sure? Because he was one of us.

      How should we handle a messenger of the Good News’ sinful failure? Well, that depends on the actions taken by both the messenger and those who love and believe the Good News.

      First, I think the messenger should stop sharing the Good News so that its message will not be held in contempt. Second, if a messenger fails they should own up to it, like King David did when he confessed, “I am the man. Yep, I did it.” It’s never okay to cover up the sin of the messenger – he shouldn’t do it, and neither should his friends … or his agent. It’s not about the money. It’s not about the ministry. It’s about the message!! Third, a fallen messenger should be restored by his believing friends. People in the family of God who understand such frailty but never excuse it should be recruited to lead the fallen messenger through a process that leads to SPIRITUAL restoration. (Whether or not the fallen return to bringing the message ever again will be determined over time. Humility, sorrow, repentance and a good track record of avoiding the failure that occurred should be factors that determine if the fallen messenger returns to ministry. Talent should NEVER be a factor in my opinion.)

      And that’s my comment. Think about it.

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