Many critics acknowledge Larry Norman to be the progenitor of Christian rock music. All I know is that I absolutely loved his music, but more importantly I loved that he didn’t fear what people thought of him and just told it like it was. That made him a precious commodity in an age when people shied away from flat-out truth. Larry also reached out to the people the contemporary church didn’t care about, drug addicts, street people, prostitutes, and on and on. That realness made him one of the few Christian artists to draw crowds in Europe. He also was an incredible performer along with being laugh-out-loud funny.
Here's a piece I ran across that accurately describes and nicely honors Larry, the outlaw....
by John Fischer
Some say he was an outlaw, that he roamed across the land, With a band of unschooled ruffians and a few old fishermen, No one knew just where he came from, or exactly what he'd done, But they said it must be something bad that kept him on the run. Some say he was the Son of God, a man above all men-- That he came to be a servant and to set us free from sin, And that's who I believe he is, cause that's what I believe; And I think we should get ready, cause it's time for us to leave. - Larry Norman
Well, maybe not time for all of us, but most certainly time for Larry to leave. He's already gone, in fact. He left this earth last Sunday morning at 2:45 a.m., and the world has lost a prophet. There are undoubtedly those who would challenge me on that last statement, but I will not recant. Sure he had enemies among his friends, and he created much of that. He was an enigma -- an iconoclast. He could be so far off you wondered if he was only visiting this planet, but he could be so on the mark that you could only credit the truth and light of the Holy Spirit for it. Indeed, the first verse of his song "Outlaw," quoted above, could have as easily been written about him. No one knew where he came from, but many wished he would go back to wherever that was. He was an outlaw to everything established, and for that he embodied the renegade nature of Christ's first coming. When you think of it, a guy with shoulder-length blond hair who sang about "sipping whiskey from a paper cup," "gonorrhea on Valentines Day and you're still looking for the perfect lay," and "shooting junk till you;re half insane," is probably not going to go over very well with the 11 o'clock Sunday morning worship crowd, especially 35 years ago. But then again, he wasn't speaking to those folks anyway. And to his credit, he never adjusted, like the rest of us did, to the Christian culture that grew out of the movement he helped found. He never compromised for a living. He stayed an outlaw until his death. For these, and other reasons, I have always likened Larry to John the Baptist -- a non-conformist living in the desert wearing funny clothes, eating weird foods and hearing voices no one else heard. After having the dubious distinction of being the one to baptize Jesus and prepare the way of the Lord, John lost his head for sticking his neck into King Herod's private life. Larry stuck his neck out lots of places where people didn't think it belonged. It's a wonder he hadn't lost his head sooner. In a time of spiritual revolution, Larry Norman carried the torch. He was and will remain through his enigmatic music, a voice crying in the wilderness. I celebrate Larry's final one-way trip to heaven, and if I know him well enough, I would guess he would want us all to make sure we were ready to leave ourselves.
One way, one way to Heaven, hold up high your hand. Follow, free and forgiven, Children of the Lamb.
Heaven's really rockin' now, I bet!
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