I do not know how to process this. A hero in my life has died. Others have gone along the way, like Evel Knievel, Walter Payton, but so far, none have impacted me as much as this one man.
Posted on his site larrynorman.com:
Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.
Larry Norman, a man said to be the grandfather of Christian rock music, has died. The Christian world (which extends far beyond the evangelical world) will be talking about this the next few weeks. His influence has been, and will continue to be tremendous.
I awoke this morning to read a post response that Larry is now with God. I am sad he has left this planet, but, after all, he was only visiting.
His words hit me hard. His hair was a little longer than mine, and his perspective was gutsier. I was new to my faith when introduced to this guy "who sounds just like John Lennon and Bob Dylan," as one friend described him.
He was no Dylan, and thankfully, no John Lennon. Great musicians and lyricists, sure, and Larry was part of their generation and musical sensibilities, yet very much his own voice.
He sang about, and mostly, God. Within this, he sang we need to be aware of living a life that's true, and to tell others about Jesus. He covered everything from poverty, politics, racism, war, hunger, and love.
- When the many in the world saw Jesus only as our friend (which He is, but more) Larry sang about our Messiah.
- He suggested we Put Our Hands in Jesus' Nail Scarred Hands when so many of us try to put our lives in our hands.
- Softly, he sang, I Hope I See You in Heaven, reminding us this Earth is not our final home.
- He sang songs like "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?" when churches were feeling insecure about rock music.
- He sang "Sweet Song of Salvation," when nonbelievers were hearing "sex, drugs and rock and roll."
- He reminded us that rock and roll isn't the answer, but that is it Jesus who is The Rock That Doesn't Roll.
- He was singing "UFO," about Jesus' imminent return when the world worried about alien life.
- He sang, "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus," when a generation of people thought everything else but Jesus was the answer.
- He sang "I Wish We'd All Been Ready," when we needed to be reminded that when Jesus comes back, we should not be surprised when not everyone will be going with Him.
Musicians he's affiliated with include Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill (tribute), Keith Green, Rez Band, Steve Camp, Daniel Amos Band, and, of course, the band he started with, People! (2007 rendition of I Love You)
In college, at a retreat, I remember singing "Watch What You're Doing" (turn it up, sound is weak) around a campfire with my roommates acapella.
A dear friend I have long lost contact with, and I, saw him sing in a little church in Champaign, IL. I still have the ticket and treasure the memory. He lost his guitar traveling, but used a borrowed one. He stayed several hours talking with a few of us afterward.
I ran into him at Cornerstone (huge Christian music festival here in Illinois), and we grabbed lunch, sitting at a quiet table, somehow unnoticed by the throngs of people. I bought several tapes from him (remember cassettes?), and a copy of his recently released "Home at Last." The album cover, as in vinyl LP, was unprinted, but he drew the entire cover for me.
Just last week, at dinner discussing French missionary work, Pierre, the pastor of a small French congregation, told me how he first heard Larry there, and, despite the decade between us (he's in his young 30s) and the Atlantic Ocean, we shared favorite songs.
I am a better writer for having heard his work, and a better Christian for having considered what he meant.
DC Talk covers "I Wish We'd All Been Ready"
picture: Albrecht Dürer, Melencolia I