National Public Viking

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

R.I.P Larry Norman (1947-2008)

When I read that Larry Norman had died, I immediately called my mother. For both of us, he had profound impact on how we developed our musical ears and philosophies -- her as the Jesus Movement of the '70s began to take form, me as a nine year-old first learning what it meant to love music and perhaps understand the role of music as worship. We'd listen to her well-worn In Another Land LP together, and in some cases, actually discussed what Larry wanted to communicate with his words.

The Father of Christian Rock was a pioneer, a heretic, a saint and a madman. He was outspoken against the Vietnam War. He sang about the hypocrisy of the church, drug addiction and the end of the world, but above all, as Paste contributer Andy Whitman so poignantly wrote, he sang about Jesus. Though he'd constantly alienate both the churched and the un-churched, challenge both of them to re-think God and love, his main focus was Jesus... sometimes with a childlike innocence, others with a harsh inward glance.

All the while, Larry Norman was a gifted songwriter with a voice that could belong on any CCR or Grateful Dead record. And in some cases, a truly angelic voice, like on "I Am a Servant."

"I Am a Servant" is a ballad worthy of Carole King's touch, and even in its simple lyrics, I've always had an emotional reaction to it. You'll have to forgive the Youtube montage, but it's what I could find.

To live is a privilege, to love is such an art
But I need your help to start
Oh, please purify my heart,
I am your servant.


At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Buddy Miles & Joe Gibbs.


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