Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Only Visiting This Planet

From YouTube:

I thought I had written about this video and song before, but I guess I haven't.

But the title of this post isn't taken from a Frank Black song about Los Angeles, California; Los Angeles, Patagonia; or anywhere. Enter Allan R. Bevere:

Larry Norman, the father of Christian rock music has died. He was 60 years old.

But in terms of chart popularity, Norman is better known for his work with People!

Norman earned his biggest commercial hit as the lead singer of the folk-rock band People! The band's cover version of The Zombies song "I Love You" was an international hit and peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard chart in June 1968.

Norman left the band on the day its debut album was released, when some members began experimenting with Scientology.

Though Norman never again hit the Billboard Top 10, his solo career proved durable and influential.

Norman's first solo record - the 1969 release "Upon This Rock" - is considered the first Christian rock album.

Some more details about Norman and his solo music are found in Razing the Bar:

Larry...was a friend I never knew, and a frustratingly untrustworthy witness to the faith. He was talented, insecure, prone to fanciful tales that bore little or no relationship to the truth, possibly mad as a hatter, and utterly, fearlessly in love with Jesus. The truth is that he made about three good albums over the course of thirty five years and dozens of releases. He repackaged his thirty great songs over and over again, made ridiculous claims about his role in the music industry (the founder of rap was my favorite), and claimed to be the spiritual mentor to everyone from Paul McCartney to Bob Dylan. He was also the self-proclaimed Father of Christian Rock, and for once he got it right.

Those who are familiar with the safe, sanitized world of Contemporary Christian Music might be startled if they listened to those thirty songs. There was nothing safe and sanitized about Larry Norman’s music. He sang about gonorrhea, drug addiction, NASA’s foibles, the death of Janis Joplin, and Jesus. Always about Jesus.

The Statesman Journal (Salem, OR) further details his more lasting significance:

Norman's fresh approach to Christian music in the 1970s caused a stir among conservative Christians, who disapproved of his long hair and ripped jeans as well as his mix of radical social, political and religious lyrics. Much of his music was banned in Christian music stores.

"I had no desire to preach the gospel to the converted," he once said.

And av1611.org had no desire to listen to the gospel from Larry Norman:

Notice the requirement for DIVISION: ". . .every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us". Every Brother. . .? Paul is referring to another Christian. Paul caused DIVISION among the body of Christ. Notice, ". . . every brother (a Christian) that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us". DISORDERLY AND ANTI-TRADITION? Is there a better description of Christian Contemporary Music?

Larry Norman displays the "not after tradition" or "rebellious" roots of CCM in "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music"

"I ain’t knockin’ the hymns, just give me a song that has a beat.
I ain’t knockin’ the hymns, just give me a song that moves my feat.
I don’t like none of them funeral marches, I ain’t dead yet"

Larry Norman mocks the old glorious hymns as "funeral marches"! Amazing Grace, Blessed Assurance, To God be the Glory, and thousands more!

Notice also, the title of Larry Norman’s song: "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music" — ALL THE GOOD MUSIC? The Lord God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, — according to Larry Norman (and CCM) does NOT have ANY GOOD MUSIC! The Devil has ALL the good music!!!! Amazing Grace is NOT GOOD? Jesus, What A Friend For Sinners is NOT GOOD? And The Rolling Stones . . . and Marilyn Manson. . . and Led Zeppelin is GOOD? What a mockery to the Holy and Wonderful and Glorious God of the Holy Bible!

Isaiah 5:20 wrote of Larry Norman and CCM:

"Woe unto them that CALL EVIL GOOD, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
Typical "rebellious", "disorderly" and "anti-Biblical" attitude of CCM. . .

"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye WITHDRAW yourselves from every brother that walketh DISORDERLY, and NOT AFTER THE TRADITION which he received of us." 2 Thess. 3:6

Then again, av1611.org probably isn't hot on the Revised Standard Version of the Bible either (and don't mention the Living Bible in their presence). See wayoflife.org for similar sentiments about Larry Norman.

The Statesman Journal references the aforementioned Frank Black:

[Norman] was working on a new album with artists Frank Black, the former frontman of The Pixies, and Isaac Brock of the band Modest Mouse. The album is set to be released later this year.

"Larry was my doorway into the music business, and he was the most Christ-like person I'd ever met," Black said Monday.

Judge for yourself.

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