I'm home from Corpus Christi and I have a lot to say--so much so that I think I'm going to have to write a series.
But before I do that, I need to post a tribute to another gift we've lost too soon. Larry Norman died this past Sunday.
When people talk about the Jesus movement and the early days of contemporary Christian music, Larry Norman's name comes up immediately, usually attached to the phrase, "Father of Christian rock." I never thought of him in that way; for me, he's always been the man in black leather with all that long, blond hair, and the writer of the song that put the return of Jesus in sharp perspective for me.
Here's a clip from his biography as printed in The Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Following is the song that made all the difference for me.
In 1956 he began writing his songs and performing them in public. He has continued to perform them all over the world. Instead of concentrating solely on America, he has toured exotic places like Russia, Lebanon, Israel, India, Hong Kong, and Japan. He has also performed in Western World countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, The Czech Republic, Poland, Holland, Britain, France, Italy, and Australia. He has sung in small clubs like New York’s Bitter End, and L.A.’s Troubadour, and also given concerts at The San Francisco Pop Festival and other outdoor festivals with crowds of up to 180,000. He has performed for The White House, twice - and in direct contrast, in Moscow at the 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium. He has headlined at venues like The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House, The Palladium and London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, which he has sold out six times; once filling it twice on the same day. Only recently has he slowed down.
For almost thirty years the press has referred to him as “the father of Christian rock” because it was he who first combined rock and roll with Christian lyrics. In the 70’s Billboard Magazine called him “the most important writer since Paul Simon.” To the church, in the early years, these accolades only deepened their doubts about him. He was banned in most Bible bookstores. But in later years he began to gain wider acceptance. Christian Artists Seminar awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award and Contemporary Christian Music Magazine named Norman's Only Visiting This Planet record the most significant and influential gospel album ever released in the field of contemporary Christian music. This kind of recognition is not new to Norman. Time Magazine once called him “the most significant artist in his field.” He has said, “I’m just an artist, reaching toward Heaven."…