As I see it...
What Larry Norman means to me
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 Thornbury's book "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music" recently, I tend to think that I may have a few things in common with Larry Norman, except for his talents and beliefs. I'm not a rock star and will never be one either and I'm also not a christian (anymore). I can't deny the existance of a God. The idea is not completely ridiculous to me, however, each attempt to define God is the result of earthly brewing. It's senseless in my opinion and it can be dangerous too, especially when people connect an absolute truth to their theories. Apart from the differences, Larry Norman seemd to have 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 and 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'm still grateful for the role Larry Norman unknowingly played in my younger days. And yes, I still love most of his 70's recordings and "Something New Under The Son" is still high on my list of all time favourite albums.