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Larry Norman


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Christian rock, with wry, frequently comedic touches

Status:

Died in 2008.

See also:

The Official Larry Norman site

Wikipedia's entry on Larry Norman

Comparisons:

Bob Dylan; other early '70s rockers

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Back in the Dark Ages (read the '70s) when I considered myself a Christian, I used to listen to Christian rock. Even then I found the music and lyrics a little sappy but sometimes there was some good music.
     Other than some Larry Norman albums, I don't have any of my Christian music collection anymore. I still love Larry Norman's inventive lyrics and crazy music. I tracked down several of the cd reissues of his music, too—about the only thing I'd brave rec.music.Christian for. And he's obscure even there, of course because he was always a controversial artist (songs like "Why Should the Devil have all the Good Music").
     I get all nostalgic for him. Who else would sing "I've been listening to Paul's records/I think he really is dead" and "Moses tending sheep in the fields one day/Thought he heard a burning scrub brush say/Gotta free your people from the Pharoah's hand/Gotta take them all to the Promised Land/Well, Moses knew that God was talking to him/So he set off to Egypt with a vigor and vim/Moses bugged the Pharoah and he bugged him and he bugged him/Till he got his people free/He used real bugs". Certainly no other rockers would dare say the first and few Christian rockers would have the sense of humour for the second.
     It's not all just funny—the wit is frequently barbed both toward the self-righteous and the non-Christian. And he has many charming love songs, both to God and Jesus and to other human beings.
     About the only thing people know him for now is "I Wish We'd All Been Ready", though Upon This Rock is widely credited as being the start of the whole Christian rock movement.
     Larry Norman's irreverent sense of humour helped keep me sane in those days, and I still find it delightful, though I'm a born-again Pagan. It's the only Christian rock I can bear to listen to, and the only Christian rock musician that mainstream musicians cite as an influence. A wacky sense of humour combined with the seriousness of his faith make for some pretty strange music, but his songwriting and performance skills make it all memorable. (Neile)

Comments about live performance:

Larry Norman is dynamic live—at least he was the half-dozen or so times I saw him in the '70s. (Neile)

Recommended first album:

Upon This Rock is definitely his best. I gather there are a couple of "best of" collections. I would also recommend Only Visiting This Planet as a good album to start with.

Recordings include:

Discography at Bryan Moore's Larry Norman site. My favourite recordings of Larry Norman's are:
  • Upon This Rock
  • Street Level
  • So Long Ago The Garden
  • Only Visiting This Planet
  • In Another Land

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2012-05-18 21:56:39.
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