Sunday, July 13, 2008

Larry Norman--the Best!

I'm not sure how many of you know or have even heard of Larry Norman. He's considered the "father" of contemporary Christian Music; but don't think for a minute that he's responsible for all the prosaic pablum that you find in most of this genre's music today. I'm not saying that Larry was the second coming of Isaac Watts or the Wesley brothers, but he had more Luther in his song writing than you'd find in 99% of the trite and insipid nonsense that passes for Christian music nowadays.

I'll have to admit that there are some contemporary artists that come to mind that have somewhat carried the torch: DC Talk, Rich Mullins, Phil Keaggy, Waterdeep, Ken Tamplin and Sixpence None the Richer come to mind, as well as the hard rock band REZ (excellent band and very relevent) and maybe a handful of others that I can't think of right now that you'll also never hear on Christian radio. These artist wrote great songs--musically and lyrically!

Larry died back in February of this year and his legacy lives on whether this generation realizes it or not. He was able to write very interesting (popular) music that transcended "Christian" ideas. He was able to be critically acclaimed in the secular music industry while at the same time challenging the Church to be the Church! He was able to write powerful and emotional music and lyrics but also had a great sense of humor and irony. He didn't take himself too seriously, as you can tell from some of the material I uploaded; but at the same time he took his Christian responsibility very seriously, as is evident in his worlwide ministry to the poor and outcast of the world as well as to the Christian community at large through his music and writings. He wrote from personal experiences as well as prophetically--challenging Christians from Scriptural Authority. He wrote songs to challenge and songs to simply enjoy; but all of his music ministered to the soul. Simply put, the man was Brother, teacher, minister and evangelist; qualities that should make up all of God's people as we share with Larry in being a light of the Gospel to the world! I may not have agreed with every position of his theologically, but I agreed with his heart--he loved the Lord and His people and the world that Jesus died for.

I have uploaded just a very small sampling of Larry's music that I own. I do so in the hope that others will appreciate the man and his music. I never met him personally, but I look forward to the day when I can see him face to face and thank him for his ministry to me.


thekingpin68 said...

I have a few friends that were Norman fans. He has had an influence on many persons.

I posted some ESL and Mahavishnu.


Great Googly Moogly! said...

Thanks Kingpin,

While I think I do have a decent "Progressive" music collection, I don't own any Mahavishnu or John McLaughlin solo material; so the video you posted was quite a treat! I have a bit of YES, Rush, Neal Morse (in all his incarnations), and even Renaissance (remember them?) on CD as well as a bunch of obscure Progressive music that I've purchased as downloads on my computer. I've also been enjoying Marillion a lot and I have a lot of King Crimson and Dream Theater (my two favorite Progressive Rock bands).

As good as these bands (and others, of course) are on record, it's an absolute joy to watch them perform live (in person or on video). The incredible musicianship in bands like these make it fun to watch--even if I don't care for a particular song their playing.

Other than Neal Morse (after his conversion), I can't think of any "Christian" Progressive music. That's a shame, really. I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with listening to "secular" music; but I would prefer to hear great music with a strong Christian ministry--like Larry! It doesn't always have to be "Jesus...Jesus...Jesus..." stuff, just good Christian ministry music.

Personally, I can appreciate the "secular" to some extent even as a Christian because I see our Maker in all good things and, in this case, in the gift of music. Even if the musicians themselves don't give God the glory for their music or talent, in that they're expressing themselves in a God-given medium (music), they are in fact testifying of our Creator. Now I'm not sure if I'm twisting logic (or theology) into a pretzle with that, but that's what I believe and I'm sticking to it! :-)

Of course, just because "to the pure all things are pure", that doesn't mean that I shouldn't exercise discernment and caution. As much as I like old Black Sabbath, I need to make sure that the "message" and even the "darkness" of the music doesn't affect my mind/heart. And I certainly don't want to offend my brother or sister by "glorying" in something that they might find offensive (and maybe rightly so :-) I can enjoy many "secular" things--but sometimes it's a "careful enjoyment".

Anyway, I can appreciate guys like Larry Norman as well as groups like Rush because I can appreciate music as a gift of God. If Rush were a Christian band whose message glorified our Lord, then all the better! :-) But I'll still listen to my favorite Rush albums of all time with complete enjoyment.

...and in case anyone was wondering, that would be "2112" and their early live album, "All the Worlds a Stage"--every song on both is a classic!

satire and theology said...

Yes, I am especially a fan of Rush 74-82. They were on Colbert, Wednesday night. Please check the satire and theology comments. Their first American television performance in 33 years and they are interrupted...


Bob Robinson said...

Great to have had you commenting over at Vanguard Church!
And I've found a fellow Prog Rock fan. I just received Neal Morse's new one, "Lifeline." I'm just starting to listen to it.