As I see it...

What Larry Norman means to me & more

I was brought up in a christian family and kept away from the radio and anything else where the devil was supposed to be hiding. Somewhere in 1977, I was 14 at the time, I found out there was a christian pop & rock hour on Saturday morning radio and my parents allowed me to listen to it. If I remember well, Larry Norman was in the very first show I listened to. The radio man played "The Rock That Doesn't Roll" and it was an instant hit for me. This was something I apparently needed badly! Looking back at it now, Larry Norman was the 'friend' that I needed; he was a christian, like I thought I was, he had humor, interesting views and he criticized the church. Above all, the music was good; it was diverse, it was ingenious to my ears, it was rock & roll. For a 14 year old, this meant a lot, really a lot. It was something I could identify with in a world where I was so insecure about.

After reading Gregory Alan Thornbury's book "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music" recently, it appears to me that Larry Norman has struggled in life to do the right thing and was confronted with people that had different interests or didn't feel as conscientiously as he did. He was also confronted with his own flaws and limitations and never seemed to have found his place in life. Larry Norman just didn't fit in. I can sympathize with that. It's a shame that artistically it all came to an end in the late 1970's. "Something New Under The Son" marks the (superb) ending of an area. It must have been the plane accident, the constant fights over legal matters, the never ending confrontations with the middle-class christian zeitgeist and the oppression of his art and freedom to speak, plus the collapse of Solid Rock, that left him tired, frustrated and broken, in a way.

I know there were and always will be people criticizing Larry Norman, especially Christians of course. I'm not a Christian and I don't care too much; no doubt, he had his flaws, just like you and me and everybody else. If he was a good christian or not, is a totally irrelevant question to me, but it caused a lot of hassle in some Christian communities over the years. David DiSabotage even called him a 'fallen angel' in his 'documentary'. If you need to know more about Larry Norman's life, I recommend reading the before mentioned book "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music" by Gregory Alan Thornbury, which appears to give a honest and respectful account of Larry Norman's life.

I'm still grateful for the role Larry Norman unknowingly played in my younger days. And yes, I still love many of his 1970's recordings and "Something New Under The Son" is still high on my list of all time favourite albums. Many of the Larry Norman songs issued in the 1970's urged the listener to think for himself, and to leave the paths of the obvious. I must admit that I never liked much of what he did in later years. I also didn't like the almost endless stream of CD and CD-r releases, which had so little to offer. I never understood what the reason was for all of this, apart from trying to get some money in. And then the Solid Rock Army Club... what am I to think of this fascination with soldiers, army and war? Conquering the world for Christ, with love and a gun if necessary? Well, count me out. "The Six O'Clock News" was a brilliant anti-war song, the name of the fan club a painful mistake.

Larry Norman was a hero to me and actually he still is, in a way, though sometimes it makes me feel very uncomfortable too. Apparently, it's all part of my life.

If the above attracts to more reading, check my thoughts about religion.