Monday, February 25

Larry Norman (1947-2008)

Larry Norman, the legendary Contemporary Christian musician, died early yesterday morning at his home in Corpus Christi, Texas, from heart failure. During his remarkable and often turbulent career, he was variously referred to as the "Father of Christian Rock" and the "Frank Zappa of Christian Rock." According to the appreciative obituary in Harp Magazine, the Portland-based Arena Rock label already had plans to issue a 20-song retrospective of Norman's work.

Norman's groundbreaking album, Only Visiting This Planet, popularized the Martin Luther phrase, “Why should the devil have all the good music?” making it a kind of raison d'etre for the fledgling Contemporary Christian Music movement. In 2001 he was inducted into the Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame. Then just last year he was also inducted into the San Jose Rock Hall of Fame.

Knowing that his all too short "visit" on this planet was nearing its end, he posted a farewell on his website:

Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.


Jim H. said...

Thank you very much for posting this. Norman was my very first exposure to Christian music back in the 70's and I always loved the guy.

Anonymous said...

Norman's songs went everywhere. Once on a trip to Malaysia, I heard a native choir from the mountains of East Malaysia. Their director introduced the next song as native to their mountain region, and said it was about two men working in a field. As the choir, dressed in grass mat shirts and loin cloths, began singing in their nasally, detuned way, I thought I recognized the melody carrying their strange tongue. Then it hit me: "Two men walkin' up a hill; once disappears and one's left standin' still..."

I was both amused and moved, and while I lamented the fact that Larry's questionable eschatology had appealed to them, I marveled at the distance a good composition can travel.

I can only imagine what joyful eloquence Larry will find in heaven.

Steve Bennett said...

Thanks Dr. Grant,
Larry Norman's "In Another Land" was a help to me as a teen-age Christian and in my witness to lost friends.
If I may, I wish you would comment directly about music. In Gileskirk lectures I have heard you talk about God authoring music and Satan only corrupting God's creation (thus there is music -- I believe you referenced nine inch nails) that make you grieve said corruption. So where is the line between God's and corrupt?