Friday, February 29, 2008

Only Visiting This Planet?

Larry Norman passed away on Sunday.

Granted, most of Larry's career was well before my time. But everyone always said he was the father of Christian rock, being one of the early Christian "counterculture" guys in music. And his influence was (and can be) found all over the musical map.

I recall Gene Eugene's death seven or eight years ago. Gene wasn't as well-known as Larry, but he was a producer and musician that had worked with a huge number of the bands that I really was weened on in the time I started finding "Christian" music I could get into, sometime in the 1990s.

It's lesser-known, underground guys like this (not that Larry Norman wasn't well known, but you know what I mean) that really had me thinking about the term "Christian music" ten or fifteen years ago. It's such a silly misnomer. There are so many churched individuals that listen to nothing but the "Christian" music stations, and "Christian" recording artists, as opposed to that dreaded "secular" music.

They also may or may not only drink milk from a Christian cow. (Was that an obscure reference?)

I do like a lot of music that fits into the Christian category. I love singing worship songs, and there are even some fantastic bands that may fall under that dreaded "Christian" label. "Christian music" isn't nearly as derivative as it was 20 years ago, although I'll admit I really can't listen to a Christian radio station very long without being annoyed at hearing the same mediocre songs over and over.

Still, though... Music isn't Christian or non-Christian. It's music.

Larry Norman was described as a "stubbornly independent artist." He made some Christians angry because he was so different than the standard "Christian singer" in the '60s and '70s. And that really makes my inner anti-establishment soul smile just a bit. He hung out with, or influenced, people from all sorts of backgrounds. McCartney. Dylan. Van Morrison. U2.

He went out of his way to reach people OUTSIDE of the church. He wasn't quite as interested in the ones sitting in the pews. They were already there. The ones that needed the help were the ones on the streets, the ones involved in drugs.

And what could be more emergent than that?


Joe B said...

Adios, Larry. Thanks for the ride!

Macca said...

Was the Christian Cow lyric from Steve Taylor?

Somewhere in the archives I have a tape dubbed second-generation of some early Larry Norman stuff, including "I Wish We'd All Been Ready." It was revolutionary and definitely emergent for the 70s. He was way ahead of his time.

Thank you for the music, Larry. Now you can join that heavenly band that you used to sing about.

scott said...

"Only drink milk from a Christian cow" was from Steve Taylor's Guilty by Association. Excellent memory, you win a cookie.

Big Doofus said...

Amen! Amen! Amen!

Larry Norman, Gene Eugene, Rich Mullins, Mark Heard. You are all missed.

Well, I'm off to use my Christian toaster to make Christian toast for my Christian breakfast.

Big Doofus said...

Oh, and by the way, Scott, remember my buddy Chad Beck? My first memories of Larry Norman were from Chad who introduced me to his music. I think he even met the man several times.

Well, Chad has totally turned his back on Jesus. I've been wrestling with this quite a bit since I knew him so well. It's not just the pot smoking and idolizing the music business. He specifically told me, "I'm not afraid of Jeebus" when I suggested that he should just go ahead and publicly deny that he believes.